Benjamin Watkins

Creative Producer at Big Wonderful Inc.

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Co-working space for Film, Video, Sound & Photography

Co-working spaces have risen up all over the world as a solution to the isolation many of us feel when working from home offices or studios. They get us out of the house, get us interacting with real life human beings, and ultimately get us networking. Great. 

Coworking gets us out of our nests.

As a filmmaker and marketing video producer, however, I've had a hard time finding a coworking space here in San Francisco that suits my needs well. Most are geared toward the startup CEO or developer/designer who can roll in to an open seating area, pull out a laptop, and set up shop in under 5 mins.

Photographers, video producers, filmmakers, sound designers, music producers, and other media production pros would also love to share resources (we use a lot) and knowledge while networking with each other and we have special needs for a co-working environment: 

+ Desk space and secure storage for all our gear (computer towers, external drives, video/photo cameras, lenses, photo printers, mics, midi keyboards, etc etc)

+ Shared access to other gear

+ Shared Access to a production studio with cyclorama

+ Shared Access to a sound booth for recording voiceovers and music 

+ Access to fellow freelancers when ramping up on a project

SHARED STUDIO & GEAR

This space would cover all these needs. When we produce videos, photos and recordings, we rent studio space and a lot of gear from rental companies. If we use it enough, we buy it. While owning feels better than renting, many of us sit on our gear most of the time waiting for the next time to use it. We'd like to rent it to others, but its usually an issue of trust, insurance, etc. One idea is that members can sell their gear to the hub for money or credit, then other members (certified to use it) can rent that gear from the hub. 

GEAR CERTIFICATION

Whether you just want to rent it next week for your shoot or need another notch in your professional belt, each media pro will get certified on each piece of equipment one by one by taking a workshop with a mentor. Some pieces of equipment are more involved than others and so the workshop/time invested would change accordingly. 

MEETUPS & CLASSES

Whether or not media pros are making use of the space through one of the membership levels, this space should serve as a hub for networking, sharing ideas, and instruction encompassing all areas of production from sound design to optics to recording formats to software tips to workshops surrounding specific pieces of gear. Instructors can also pay a rental fee and hold their own for-profit classes in a shared instruction space. 

PRODUCT DEMOS

Most artist-producers have an insatiable appetite for new gear. Video, Photo and Audio tech are changing at evermore rapid speeds and these days larger manufacturers like Canon, Sony and Arri are competing with clever new kids on the block like Black Magic Design, Red Rock, Rhino Gear, MOVI to catch our attention with the latest greatest tools for capturing great images and sound. Most of us drool over their products via online videos and reviews. Having a space dedicated to media production pros means handing a target audience to vendors while giving pros the chance to touch and test gear they've only seen or heard about. Holding demos at the space also boosts awareness of the space among potential members. 

BUSINESS MODEL

A commercial coworking space will provide media-production pros (photographers, video producers, filmmakers, musicians, sound pros) dedicated work space catered to their production needs, ongoing learning and networking opportunities relevant to their industry, and regular access to expensive production tools via cost sharing. Members will pay monthly fees (three tiers) to gain workspace, shared access to gear, shared access to a cyclorama production studio, shared access to a sound booth and additional amenities like a meeting room, bathrooms and a kitchen. The top tier includes resident production companies with dedicated office spaces. The middle tier is for serious freelancers who need dedicated, secure desk and locker space. The third tier gives general members daytime use of open desk space, participation at events, and discounts on studio and gear rentals. Production equipment vendors and instructors will pay event space rental fees to host paid courses and free product demos.  Similar business models are TechShop. 

CHALLENGES

The hard part is amassing the capital to lease, design, furnish and buildout (if necessary) the space. I have minimal experience in commercial real estate and so climbing the learning curve surrounding commercial real estate and local laws governing commercial real estate, renting, insurance, etc. will be rough. I also need to find or build an accounting/sales/rental system that will make monthly fees, equipment purchases, equipment sales, and equipment rentals painless and well documented. San Francisco real estate is extremely expensive.   

BUSINESS MODEL

A commercial coworking space will provide media-production pros (photographers, video producers, filmmakers, musicians, sound pros) dedicated work space catered to their production needs, ongoing learning and networking opportunities relevant to their industry, and regular access to expensive production tools via cost sharing. Members will pay monthly fees (three tiers) to gain workspace, shared access to gear, shared access to a cyclorama production studio, shared access to a sound booth and additional amenities like a meeting room, bathrooms and a kitchen. The top tier includes resident production companies with dedicated office spaces. The middle tier is for serious freelancers who need dedicated, secure desk and locker space. The third tier gives general members daytime use of open desk space, participation at events, and discounts on studio and gear rentals. Production equipment vendors and instructors will pay event space rental fees to host paid courses and free product demos.  Similar business models are TechShop. 

CASH FLOW 

Get members to pay up front. Obtain one-year commitments from top-tier members (small production companies) then go to investors. Obtain smaller amounts and build community with a Kickstarter campaign where for second and third tier memberships and pre-paid event passes are rewards. 

CHALLENGES

The hard part is amassing the capital to lease, design, furnish and buildout (if necessary) the space. I have minimal experience in commercial real estate and so climbing the learning curve surrounding commercial real estate and local laws governing commercial real estate, renting, insurance, etc. will be rough. I also need to find or build an accounting/sales/rental system that will make monthly fees, equipment purchases, equipment sales, and equipment rentals painless and well documented. San Francisco real estate is extremely expensive.   

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