What Exactly Is an Independent Film?
The concept of making an independent, or indie, film has become a bit blurred over the years. The term itself is slippery, given that most major studios now have branches that are deemed “independent,” when in fact filmmakers and their productions are under the studio umbrella. The classic definition of independent filmmaking means funding (usually on a shoestring) and producing a film outside the auspices of a studio. What often confuses things is that there have been independent studios, like New Line Cinema, Miramax, and Hemdale, that distributed independent films. All three of those studios have now been absorbed into larger entities. With each passing year, the lines between true independent filmmaking become slightly more fuzzy, especially given the high-profile publicity accompanying films like
A common view of what industry professionals still deem an independent film is one that someone makes himself, but distributes through a studio. Given that the studio didn't finance the project, the film remains independent while at the same time reaping the benefits of being distributed by the studio to a mainstream audience.
Independent films are sometimes commercially viable, but almost always contain artistry in the form of raw characters, emotion, humor, and trauma all bound together by unconventional storylines. In many cases, they're directed by first-time filmmakers, most of whom have to cut corners and make more than a few personal sacrifices to get their work recognized. The indie route is a path paved with grand visions and great intentions, and it's laid the groundwork for more than a few famous filmmakers.