What better place to go for advice on how to build a successful production house than where competition is stiffest? Mike Levy started Levy Production Group in 1987 and succeeded where many others failed—Las Vegas. We figure if you can make it in the entertainment capitol of the world, you can probably make it anywhere. Here are our top four takeaways from Mike on building a successful studio:
1. Get experience
The best thing young, aspiring editors, camera people, and future business owners can do is get experience. If you want to become the go-to person in your field, take online courses, college courses, and even unpaid gigs as opportunities to learn the ins and outs of video production. Learn the industry overall, not just your position. Understanding everything from production through post makes you a well-rounded teammate or team lead. Not all jobs offer glamour, but all jobs offer experience.
2. Be nice
Being talented isn’t enough. Don’t just learn to be good at what you do, but also at how you do it. This is not your typical desk job. Our industry is famous for long hours, late nights, and many consecutive days on set. Tough conditions can bring out the worst in people. Those who can communicate clearly, listen well, and stay level-headed are invaluable. You’ll be remembered as much for the way you conduct yourself as for the work you produce.
Be humble. Look to learn from people rather than to be right.
3. A warehouse is just a warehouse
You can’t just call a large, open building a studio. Having enough room to shoot properly is just the beginning. If you really want to do it right, you have to be ready to invest in heating and cooling, overhead and floor lighting, and soundproofing, for starters. If clients have to redo a take because they hear an ambulance in the background, they’ll be taking their business elsewhere next time. You also need creature comforts so you can accommodate not just the shoots, but the people, too. Clients want to go to a facility that feels good—with nice dressing rooms, kitchen areas, restrooms, etc. Fresh-baked cookies (a Levy Production Group signature), goodie baskets, meals, snacks, candies, sodas, and gourmet coffees and teas go a long way toward making people comfortable and earning repeat business.
4) Find your niche and do it well
It seems simple, but most of the important things are. When you have the best resources and do the best work, you’ll get return clients. Word of mouth and reputation are irreplaceable.
After starting as an ad agency and outsourcing to local TV stations, Mike Levy decided to invest in a small stage to facilitate smaller projects like ChromaKey insert shoots and single-car shoots. Realizing that they were good at something and that they could get paid for, Levy Production Group bought their first camera and editing package and have grown along with Vegas ever since. In their current 14,000 square-foot facility, they do everything from everyday interviews to shoots with big-name celebrities, athletes, and musicians.
Building any business can feel like a gamble, but with these key practices it’s a sure bet.
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