Building a company
Filmshape is our Saas app and website experiment we’ve been building since 2018. The social platform for filmmakers to connect, collaborate and find work has been a passion project to understand the intricacies, difficulties and joys of building a business from the ground up. What started out as an idea from a pain point in the film industry transformed into a side project that took over a large part of my life. I co-founded the company Filmshape with one of my closest friends, Viktor Petrov, who is the CTO. We’re bootstrapped founders, working relentlessly for the past 4 years and haven’t shied away from the necessary hard work to create the startup. I was incredibly fortunate to meet Viktor and form a conscientious working relationship.
How can it help?
Most platforms work because you will change your job every few years, but this doesn’t work for film production at any level. Too much of the film industry today is connecting through word of mouth or little black books so we aimed to connect the world of filmmakers and improve their productivity, enabling them to easily and efficiently create the content we all love.
Useful links and articles
It might read better if I gave a romanticised memory of how I saw a problem in the world which instantly clicked and we had to solve it but that’s not how it went down… This came from years of listening and watching how people work and like to work when creating films. I looked around and saw the same platforms that are more like legacy systems with outdated mechanisms and designs, as well as movie databases that do very little connecting anyone.
We’ve spoken with small independent and student film productions at universities as well as crew members from some of the largest productions ever made. Some popular names include the likes of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and the Marvel series. We’re also closely collaborating with individuals who’ve worked with the biggest artists in the UK like Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Dave to understand pain points at every level. Surprisingly the issues are relatively similar across the board, the majority tend to boil down to the following two things; finding people and showcasing work.
I never intended to start a company, but the more people I spoke to, the more it bothered me that nobody was working on solving these problems effectively. There was a consistent theme of ‘workarounds’ to solve problems identified during interviews. So we thought, why not merge these two worlds and have a social film database if you like someone’s work. e.g. the directing, you can simply connect with them and approach them for work, acting, lighting, sound, etc.
Solution and benefits
Create and manage projects.
Search and recruit talent.
Interoperate with video streaming platforms.
Showcase personal or popular community activity.
Invite users involved in projects you like.
Chat with colleagues and friends.
Manage team roles and workflows in a central, collaborative space.
Free access for everyone and Pro features for paid members.
How we did it
Simply put, Filmshape connects you with an ecosystem of potential projects and professionals. It caters to every industry role to improve project management, collaboration, promotion and networking whilst being completely free for everyone to use. This wasn’t easy to achieve so our research and management had to be efficient and effective. We used the Design OS framework I've created which you can buy now for your own projects. Here’s a few example screenshots of how we organised our research and insights to create tangible actions:
Design and prototype
Using Sketch, Figma and Invision I created hundreds of screens for various flows, states, permissions and users all of which had to be connected to illustrate every possible path a user could take in a social network (Spoiler Alert… It’s A LOT!). These are just a few examples:
Holding it all together
After researching and obtaining actionable information from user research and quantitative statistics we would brainstorm strategic roadmap ideas and weigh up feasibility vs cost. If an idea shone through we’d add it to our Gitlab where our contract developer had access to view tasks.
Marketing and promotion
Taking on such a venture taught me an incredible amount about design, business, finance and life. One thing that struck me as most surprising was the level of dedication required to build a good reputation with a community and the steps required to do so, I have a new found respect for this entire field. Here are a couple of videos I created to promote our website and app, enjoy!
Building Filmshape is the hardest endeavour I’ve ever undertaken but it’s taught me skills in every field of business and allowed me to see the pain points that each department would inevitably have to face. This is always my aspiration as a product and user experience designer as empathy always leads to a better experience.
and many startups too!