How to Run a Media Company Like the Majors
I did an aggregate study of the top movie distributors in the country, and noticed a trend. I'd like to take a moment to make note of this, and the practical applications derived.
1) Make a Name for Yourself
Power is never given, it's taken. You will need to make a name for yourself to have social leverage in future endeavors. This idea can boil down to the action of the "publicity stunt" (the more high profile, the better)... But it can also mean the creation of a viral DIY piece of media.
2) Pitch Pitch Pitch!
There's not a lot of film studios or film financiers. As a filmmaker, you will need to pitch your project a lot, and to a lot of different people. There's no way moving forward without getting good at pitching your ideas to groups of people. So, practice this. Set up situations which are low-stakes for you, and pitch the idea to a lot of people. Green-lights happen because of good pitches, not inherent brilliance. Or pitch to the local big wigs. Who cares?! We're all going to die anyway. Pitch your project to a lot of people. That's your real job — not making movies!
3) Know Who You're Selling To
Each major movie studio knows exactly who they're selling to, who their ideal customers are. This knowledge completely alters their business model, thus changing the kind of movies they create. In many ways, this information is the very reason why the movie studio exists in the first place. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, for example, makes movies for kids & families. Warner Bros. makes movies for a slightly more sophisticated "working age" mass audience. A24 makes movies for counter-cultural millennial. Annapurna Pictures makes movies for intimate, refined audiences. IFC makes movies for people who crave a weirder semi-traditional film experience. Etc etc etc. Discover your audience & make movies for them.
4) Figure out Financing
Each major movie studio had a source of financing. This one's not easy, I understand. But this part seems to be the life-blood of a movie studio. I know money is the life-blood of everything... but, yeah, it's ESPECIALLY so for movie making. Movies are an expression of money. Many of the companies are either started by billionaires or investor-capitalists as a fun, "meaningful" way of making a large pile of money grow in value. Some are began by minor-celebrities who had a money windfall, and so they decided to invest their fortune into building a business. Others start small and work their way up with organic success.
Cannon Films, interestingly, figured out a model of hard selling international pre-sales of movies based solely on their title & posters, and used that pre-sale money to create the actual movie LOL. Ed Wood, however, just accepted money from anybody. Whatever you have to do to figure out financing... How these movies will be paid for and how they'll make money is question #1 for the whole entertainment enterprise.
5) Make A Lot of Movies Per Year
Major movie studios (which include mini-majors, minis, and all the other Hollywood diminutives), make a lot of movies per year. The number seems to be between 5-20 feature films per year. Obviously, that's a near impossible goal for an independent filmmaker (unless we stretch the definitions of quality a bit) but you get the general idea... Crank out content bb.