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Starting my own business

Nick McMillin

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Starting my own Cinematography business has been the most difficult thing I've ever wanted to do. I've got no clue where to start, who to talk to, what I should be doing, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I'm not looking for anything big, just something to get my foot in the door, get myself used to the business, experience with equipment and hopefully, at least, a paltry income.

I'm from a small town with literally two other yellow-paged video businesses in the area. I'm going for a bachelor's degree in Digital Media Production at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I've got little to no money, a 30G HDD JVC Camera, and skill that's wasted flipping burgers.

How do I go about starting my own Cinematography business?

I was thinking about doing weddings. Getting some fliers, making some calls to local bridal/wedding stores, comparing the "competition's" prices, etc...

Am I on the right track? Where should I be going? What moves should I be making?

If I could get ANY feedback or input, I would be extremely grateful.

Thanks to everyone in advance.


Nick McMillin

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I don't think that weddings would really get you into the cinematography business. If anything I'd say it's rather akin to ENG stuff moreso than cinematography, ya know?

I know here in Philadelphia I just started accring eqiupment and working with a lot of students. And I don't mean cameras and the like, but rather, lighting and grip stuff they normally won't have which isn't super expensive and is very durable. From there i started meeting new people and working more and more, a lot for no money, and getting paid here and there for shoots (even if it only was a kit fee). And now, I'm still getting paid a little bit here and there, but we're starting to rent out what we don't have but need from rental houses, while still building up my own offerings; and for an example, last night I shot Patty LaBelle at the House of Blues in an interview (and at her birthday party), and this coming week I have a shoot up in NY for another recording artist.

Point being, is that you start out slow and just keep getting your name out. I would sell that camera, and invest in something a bit more pro-sumer/in demand if you want to be renting out a camera package.

Get some lighting and read up on every book you can on cinematography and know all the technical aspects you can. And meet the right people and the like, and meet more people, and shoot, and shoot, and shoot.

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Hi Nick,


I think the first thing you need to figure out is do you want to be a cinematographer or do you want to begin your own production company.


If it is cinematographer/Director of Photography you are going for than Adrian had the right advise work as hard as you can and jobs will get better and better.'


Now if it is a company you want than you need to structure a company. When I began my production house we began small working weddings and local business adds and eventually we grew larger. We got incorporated we got investors which meant better gear which meant better productions. Having a production company means you can't always focus on what you want to do but what is best for the company, and eventually you will get to do what you want when you have a name and recognition. We fought through almost three years of crap videos that we didn't really want to do but it grew the company. Today I am going to be directing a large budget documentary and I get to focus on films and short films. But I still have my production company that is running and growing and bringing in the backdoor income. It is a lot of work but pays off in the end.


I hope that helps in some way.




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