An independent film todays becoming much more difficult to classify. With so many independent films that are now gaining international appeal and with a variety of distribution channels for low-budget and independent films, the line between indie and blockbuster is thinner than ever before.
Seeing an independent film win an award is no longer something that is out of the norm and the process of defining what it means to be indie is not simple. In most cases, the new brand of independent film basically means that a Hollywood studio cinema or major production company was not involved in the production of a feature. Most people commonly think that any film made outside of a Hollywood studio system without a vast budget can characterize an independent film but there are certainly some exceptions.
Motion pictures like Red Tails from George Lucas for example was completely funded with his own money. A number of independent films can also receive private funding from investors through crowdfunding sources and even from capturing the attention of investors. If the film is produced outside of a traditional Hollywood studio even through private investment, it still does technically count under the title.
Independent films today are being released and distributed even without major investment however. There are a number of filmmakers that are using the tools that they have available to them to create and release great content. Independent shorts are being filmed on everything from old VHS camcorders to the smart phones that we have in our pocket and with Internet streaming and video hosting sites these films are being released quite easily of the public.
The concept of an independent film or even shooting a feature length film today is something that anyone with the motivation and idea can take on. The technology is available, the learning resources are available online and the distribution can all be taken care of in a way that was not present even 10 years ago.
Why make indie films?
There are many reasons that filmmakers embark on the task of creating their own independent films. Not only can sharing your vision being incredibly rewarding process, but there are a number of benefits that you may not even consider on the process of turning your ideas into independent film. Here are some of the top reasons why many people make indie films and needed bandages that they can experience after they complete their films:
To improve your skills: learning by doing can be one of the best ways that you can improve your skills. Jumping in and trying new things by producing your own independent movie can be a great way that you can learn how to successfully market a film, I get better at shooting films or even rush up on your acting skills. There are many pioneers in the industry that wrote, directed and even starred in their own independent films and it can be a fantastic way to expand your skills on every side of the camera and every side of the movie business.
To make connections: producing an independent film can help you make connections in the film industry for future projects. You could start working with an incredible composer as they are just starting their career or even get into contact with a small distribution company that eventually turns into the next big streaming partner. You may never know how much one of the connections that you make in producing an independent film could benefit you down the road.
To get excellent feedback: although it can be difficult to have your movie judged and even picked apart by critics, having people watch your movies can give you an idea of some of the best parts of your film that make it unique or items that you could cut out of future films to help them resonate more with the audience. Gaining feedback from your films helps you become a better creator.
To inspire others: if you feel confident that you can make a film from start to finish and release it to the world, you never know what type of impact you can have on another person. Art can be a powerful tool and something that inspires you might also inspire another creator. Your work could act as a catalyst for inspiring the next great film director or creator. By proving that you could complete the task and make something that they enjoyed, that could be enough for another creator to go out and pursue their own dreams. In a way, you almost owe it to other creators to tell your story.
You could be recognized for your work: it's not unusual for certain independent films or even shorts to win awards worldwide. Depending on the nature of your film you could be asked to go to a film festival Q&A and get tickets to the festival itself. Awards such as the indie Spirit awards and more also recognize independent films worldwide. Your film could be on the same awards list is major blockbusters with Hollywood actors but it will need to get made first!
You will get a crash course in film marketing: almost every independent filmmaker quickly becomes an entrepreneur. Perhaps one of the most exciting things that happens when your film is completed is finding audiences to show it to. As you continue to get better at the business side and marketing, you can better represent yourself as an artist and eventually start getting compensated for your work. This crash course in marketing for independent filmmakers is one of the best ways that anyone can learn the business side of filmmaking.
The best online resources for indie filmmakers:
If you are an independent film maker or an aspiring film maker, it remains important to constantly improve your skills. There are always new standards for technology in the film making industry and new ways that you can produce your films more efficiently and professionally. Here are some of the best resources for you as an indie filmmaker online:
Action cut Print: This is a rumor that is created by Peter Marshall and it's benefited through his four decades of film experience. With an absolute gold mine of information on cinematography and filmmaking advice, this is a great resource.
Bigstar movies: this is a good site for many early film members to learn the process of distribution, networking and marketing. Bigstar features a listing of ongoing film festivals in areas where you can preview your film worldwide.
BAFTA soundcloud: If you are a fan of podcasts, the BAFTA soundcloud has a series of interviews that come from some of the world's most successful filmmakers. There are interviews here that are all archived with the public with a number of names from television and film all included in their backlogged episodes.
Film and TV Pro: this is an excellent resource to find paid/ volunteer work in the film industry so that you can build up your experience collaborating on various projects. As you are included on new projects you can start to get a feel for the process for yourself and even learn new effects that you could bring into your own films.
Freesound: If you need great quality sound effects and music for your films, there are plenty of licensed sounds and free sounds available here for a wide array of projects and genres. Free sound is a great resource for giving your films depth and a professional feel.
Indiewire: This is one of the most popular resources for collaborating with indie filmmakers and their fans. On this hub, you can find a wide array of articles about independent films as well as how the entertainment industry is embracing the hottest new titles.
IMDB: IMDB actually has a surprising amount of information for casting, films, producers and scripts. If you're going to get into independent filmmaking, you need to have your own professional IMDB page. Getting recognized for your productions is a wonderful way that you can start to make headway into the industry.
No film school: this is a resource that is designed by film students and their faculty. Ideally this is a website that can supplement film school itself but there are also a wide array of tutorials that can suit anyone with little industry experience.
Keep some of these resources in mind so that you can have better success in creating independent films in the future.