On Starting A Film, TV & Media Production Company
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello! I’m Latham Ford and I started a Film, TV & Media Production Company in 2016. I built the company on intellectual property: scripts, ideas, and pitches. Whether they are ideas or scripts that I created and wrote or collaboration. Underneath that is the actual content creation and production. I have produced and written a few short films and pitch ideas. In 2018, I won the best film, $10,000 for a short film I wrote called Daddy’s Big Girl, at the Gentlemens Jack Daniels & Code Black Lionsgate Film Contest, held in Miami, FL.
Since then, life has been moving fast. I’ve been pitching my scripts to studios, sold a few ideas to production companies and produced some really cool digital content for brands. Then I acquired some amazing partners which propelled us to the next level. Check out our production reel.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I moved to LA 13 years ago, by way of Chicago. I began my career in entertainment as an actor. I had a great start to that career by being in many commercials like Lincoln Aviator, Toyota, Apple, Lexus and more. It was by being on set as an actor for TV commercials and film, is how I fell in love with producing.
I’ve learned to fail and fail big. The more I have failed the more successful I became.
After shooting my Lexus commercial I was on fire to produce. I began writing TV ideas, turning them into scripts. I also began writing film scripts. The next step was actually producing them. I never stopped acting because being on set was my school. That is how I learned. Most producers start as PAs but I didn’t have to go that route, I was already on set as an actor soaking in the same information. Not to mention commercial money pays way better as an actor than PA.
So I kept acting, that’s how I began to build my own production team. I took all of the assistants from those sets who wanted to be more and gave them that opportunity to be. Which is now today No Idea Films.
I am a man full of ideas and imagination. When I come up with ideas they sprout from nowhere. I’m like a blank canvas when I begin to think, I start with no idea. Starting with no idea doesn’t actually mean you have no ideas, it means you haven't latched on to one yet. Having no idea gives you unlimited options, having an idea only gives you one. Welcome to No Idea Films.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
My first time producing a film was actually a film I wrote and produced and starred in, which won my biggest award as a film creator to date. But that’s only the fruit. Let’s talk about the labor, and how I underestimated the work that goes into producing, from casting the actors, getting the film crew, finding extra hands, locking down a location, equipment, contracts, you name it. I don’t think I slept for 3 days. I made a lot of mistakes, ran into a few walls but I gained so much experience. It made my next production much easier… not to say it was. I don’t think any productions ever are easy.
One of my favorite things about producing is that I get to pick my family because that’s what we become in those days. Everyone is working hard to make this one idea happen. We laugh, we have fun, we eat well and work hard. It is a very gratifying thing to yell “It’s a wrap!” but then to have to leave the people you’ve been in the trenches with, sucks, but that’s the life of production. BTS LINK: Supra Footwear
Describe the process of launching the business.
The process to build the company was really hard. I lacked knowledge of the business at the beginning. So before I even wrote a script or produced anything I spent my time reading business books for about a year. I had to teach myself business and more importantly the business of entertainment. But I was dedicated to learning the entertainment business from all angles: production companies, agencies, management companies, studios. I literally dropped everything, I stopped all acting jobs, and studied 24/7.
The next step was easy and fun. I had to begin to build the company on intellectual property. So I began writing ideas and scripts like crazy. Luckily for me, I went to college for journalism so I had a knack for writing and I have a wild imagination so I wasn’t short of ideas.
When I was done with that, the last phase was, find money and team. Fortunately, I could knock 2 birds with one stone. I began acting again because commercial money is good money, while also needing to be on set so I can network and acquire a production team. Then shortly after that, the ball began to roll.
Being a producer is all about learning through experience and to gain that you must… produce.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The first step to attracting people to you is having a nice package. No, not in that way, you dirty minds. I’m talking about creating an aesthetic for your brand. No matter what you’re selling no one is gonna buy from someone with bad packaging, or if they do they are not the clients to retain or grow with. The proper term is BRANDING!
Work very hard on your brand. My suggestion would be to create a brand book for yourself, Whether you are the brand or your company, you have to have certain questions answered about yourself before attracting customers. What is your: Vision, Mission, Values, Personality, Identity, Tone. Having these answered before you start building. This even helps with creating partnerships.
After that begin to create an image and aesthetic of the company. How do you look? Check out this scenario…
Imagine being out of the country in a foreign place where you do not know the language and you want a good chocolate candy bar. So you go down to the market to buy one. The only problem is, you don’t know which one is which, which ones you like or don’t like. So what would you do at the moment? If you had to guess and pick one, how would you go by doing it? Instinctively, most would go out on the limb for the candy bar with the most appealing wrapper and hope once you buy it, it’s actually good. And say you love it, would you risk choosing another candy bar next time?
The answer should be no. You would stick with the one you chose first and loved. You want more of that good stuff. So what’s the moral of the story? Whether or not your product is good, no one will choose you first if your wrapper “packaging” isn’t appealing to the customer. Your packaging will get chosen, your product (if it is as good as the packaging) will get you retained.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today is still a challenge, but it should be. I have recently purchased a production studio in Downtown LA. I am located right by the Staples Center. It’s my creative playground and it also caters to other creatives. I built a recording studio inside to cater to music artists or any voice over sessions I may have for a client. As well as a home for my film production team. The studio is called “Studio 10.” Named after a talent management and consulting company I founded in 2017 called “Ten X Talent.”
To also monetize the space and continue growing our network we rent the space out for events, photoshoots, content creations, podcasts, business meetings. You can find our rental prices for Studio 10 on peerspace.com We have created a space for creatives to play.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned to fail and fail big. The more I have failed the more successful I became. You know good ole Abe’s saying, “Fool me once, shame you. Fool me twice shame on me.” Well take that heart, so you can strive big. Don’t be afraid of that leap of faith and hope to fail, it will only make you stronger. And sometimes you don’t fail, and in those moments I say to myself, “I didn’t reach high enough.”
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
My biggest tool is my network. By being in entertainment for the last 10 years I pretty much know people. Also, by being fortunate enough to start out as an Actor, it really put my foot in the door early. The people and friends I’ve acquired over the years are now executives, casting directors, writers and company owners. So now all I have to do is connect the dots.
My second biggest tool is social media. Not necessarily for ads or marketing, but more so by being a presence and allowing people to follow the journey. People are watching you even though you may not know it. And you never know who can be watching. Stay current on social media, it will help you.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Ok, this question gets me excited. To get to where I’m at I felt like I did a lot of self-teaching through reading books. I have been taught so much by some really amazing authors and would highly encourage anyone to read their books.
- Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point, Outliers, David and Goliath
- Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist, The Fifth Mountain, Aleph
- Simon Senek: Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last
- Jim Collins: Good To Great
- Daniel Coyle: The Talent Code
- Nicholas Von Hoffman: Capitalist Fools
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
This is a tricky question. A question I asked many producers and owners of production companies. And their answers all summed up the same, “Just produce.” It bugged the hell out of me because no one would give me a straight answer. And now that I’ve been doing it for the 4 years, I now know there isn’t any. The advice makes sense now and is quite clear, “just produce.”
Being a producer is all about learning through experience and to gain that you must… produce.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I am always looking to add a new team member. If you have a skill set in film production in any way: director of photography, photography, editor, producer don’t hesitate to reach out.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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