Who and when are they key partners and customers in an eco-system for film? Unless you are one of the few major studios, you need to work with other parties.
Let’s do an example, Hollywood style, to illustrate some of the different parties in this business.
I have this fantastic idea for a feature film. It’s about a young successful female professional who starts to think about her priorities in life just before she is getting married.
First of all, I need an writer who can write a first draft of a manuscript. In US, the writer belongs to a guild and they set minimum terms and conditions for a script.
I will then the show this manuscript to a producer who will evaluate if this something he/she will work with. He/she need to find financiers to the film, as creating films are expensive endeavors. But the financiers are often reluctant to fund a film, unless you have a director and a lead actor tied to your film. A lead actor has an agent or is part of an agency, so the producer need to reach out to them first. Both directors and actors belong to guilds, but different guilds, and their T&C will have impact on the production cost and timeline.
The financiers would probably need a letter of intent from a major distributor in order to sign the checks. In order to get the proposals for the film correct, we also need legal advisors and financial experts.
We also need to think about sponsors, advertisers and those who sell merchandise based on the film as additional revenue streams. We may also receive grants from film bodies and tax deductions from governments.
Now over to the pre-production and production process in film production.
We need services from locations scouts to find the proper place to film our story and a casting agency to find the rest of the talent for our feature film. We also need to find the right crew behind the camera. One important role in this crew is the Director of Photography, who obviously belongs to yet another guild. There will also be a need for extras in the background of some scenes, and they need to be hired by the casting agency. Travel and logging is probably managed by a travel agency and we need to find someone to provide catering service on set.
For the production we use rental houses for technical equipment, wardrobe & make-up, set design and props, unless we purchase this ourself. For this film, we probably need a stunt-coordinator, but no need special effects for this particular film as I see it now.
After the film is in the can, the raw film / digital media goes to a post-processing house where an editor cuts the film and a sound editor edits sound, both with the guidance of the director and producer. You also need a composer for the music and acquire rights for all other music from record labels and artists.
Film is very much digital, therefore we need a lot of IT-service providers to deliver different platforms to be used in our film-making process.
Finally, your film is ready and you have a master copy to show-case at festivals and film markets all over the world, from Cannes to LA. This is where you find more distributors, for different channels (cinema, broadcast TV, DVD, Pay per view, subscription streaming services etc.) and geographical regions.
But the question still arise, who is your customer? It depends on your role in the ECO-system.
The customer for a writer is the producer.
The customer for the actual production, by a production company is the producer, but those involved in the production have the production company as a customer.
The customer for a producer is one or many distributors.
The customer for a distributor are those who will give access for the film to the viewers
In the end the final customer is either the viewer who pays and/or those companies who pays for the ads when viewing the film.
Welcome to show business.