What Are Independent Films And How To Make One

23rd May 2022

What Are Independent Films And How To Make One
Georgia Carter

Georgia Carter

What is an independent film and what do you need to know in order to make one? What are the best independent films and how much did they make at the box office? What is the difference between an independent and large studio production? All these questions will be answered and more. So sit back and read on!

What Is An Independent Film?

An independent film is a feature film or short that is produced and distributed outside a major production studio. It may be just as popular as a studio film and can be any genre, from; drama, horror, comedy, romance etc. They are usually made with lower budgets than a studio film, and can have a personal artistic style / vision of the writer or director. Major film stars are attracted to working on these films as they feel more in tune with the story of the project or may want to work again with a particular film maker which makes sense. 

These films will generally be distributed at independent film cinemas and venues, but then can also garner respect and worldwide attention as well. It all depends on how well it is marketed and publicized to the general public. 

They can be screened at local, national and international film festivals before being shown to the public for general wider release. 

Why Are Independent Films Important? 

Without the aid of the major studios, the production companies, cast and crew have some autonomy in how they tell their story and what exactly they want to put across to the audience. There is less ‘red-tape’ as it were and they can take more risks, be more adventurous and in terms of artistic creativity and freedom, there is plenty more scope for all of this in independent films. It is what actors tend to like and there are not as many stringent rules in place compared to commercial projects. General, there will be more diversity in the type of films that are not made by a studio production company.  

They will be less censored, so may discuss more sensitive issues and not be lacking in truth. The moviegoer will more likely feel engrossed by the story and human values will be more grounded in the motion picture. The box-office is not the main driver of the film, but the story. 

You may have grown up watching independent films, and have a sincere and true passion for them. These films mean that people scramble to get their movies made, to ensure their passion projects are really seen and heard by their audiences. A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into them and the financiers deserve every ounce of respect given to an independent film. 

Film Independent Spirit Awards 

The yearly awards have been the home for independent filmmakers for years – since March 3rd 1984 actually – and in Santa Monica every year, people gather to celebrate the best in independent film. This year, films such as ‘The Lost Daughter’,‘The Underground Railroad’, ‘Drive My Car’, ‘Reservation Dogs’ are just a few of the films that won an award for their outstanding achievement and contribution to independent film. 

The motto of the company is this;

‘Our mission is to champion creative independence in visual storytelling and support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision’

There is a special award of the night called the Robert Altman award and this accolade is presented to the ensemble cast, director and casting director of a film by the Film Independent, a non-profit organization dedicated to independent film and independent filmmakers. It is named after director, screenwriter, and producer Robert Altman, who is considered a “maverick” in naturalistic films. There is just one winner, and no other nominees. The awards usually take place in early March. 

British Independent Awards 

The British Independent Film Awards are a yearly awards ceremony which celebrates and promotes the success of british independent film and talent in the UK. Films which have won accolades at this special event have included; ‘After Love’, ‘Ali and Ava’, ‘Boiling Point’, ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Wildfire’, ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ and many more. 

Nominations are announced in November and the awards take place in early December. 

Highest Grossing Independent Films

Over the last year, these films have garnered much attention at the box office and ticket sales skyrocketed and brought in the bucks. 

  • Demon Slayer: Mugen Train – Opening Average: $13,215
  • The Wrath Of Man – Opening Average: $2,890
  • The Green Night – Opening Average: $2,417
  • Stillwater – Opening Average: $2,049
  • The French Dispatch – Opening Average: $25,938
  • Last Night In Soho – Opening Average: $1,385

Independent Film Reviews

These are part and parcel of the film industry and can make or break your film. There are plenty of sites which will review your film and critique it. UK Film Review is an example in the UK, or you can always find reviews on sites such as The Guardian or The Independent Critic. 

How To Finance Your Independent Film

If you want to create your own work – and this is critical in this industry now – you need to know where to begin. Below are the main ways to get your film financed, whether you are going to make one that costs $500,000 or $5,000.  

  • Crowdfunding
  • Grants and Fellowships
  • Private Investors
  • Distribution Agreements

In Conclusion

Independent films equal diversity, representation and equality as well as getting noticed. They equal creative freedom, a supportive atmosphere and community. Connections and equal opportunities are equated with independent film. But what can we do to support this style of filmmaking? Go and watch those films that are produced outside of a major Hollywood studio and visit your local independent cinema/arthouse cinema. There will be one close to you even if you do not know it right now and they will generally have a more soulful atmosphere to them as well which is always a plus. 

Film festivals which show independent films are another great way of supporting those indie films. Maybe even become a member of such communities as Film Independent. Lastly, there is always social media. So get on it and promote independent films worldwide and to everybody who follows you as we know the more people who are passionate about this, and the more traction that is generated the better. 

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