To understand what is an independent film director, we first understand how the independent film industry works. This industry exists outside the financial shadow of the big movie studios.
Before we discuss what is an independent film director, let us first focus on what is an independent film. Also known as indie films, independent films are films that are financed by sources that are not related to the major movie studios. Most independent films have lower budgets than any average movie financed by any of the major film studios, but some can enjoy a really huge budget, depending on who their financial backer is.
The Indie Film Director
Like any other film, an independent film is led by the director, who is the major creative force driving the entire production of the movie. His function is basically the same as any of the directors working in the film industry, whether they are being financed by a major movie studio or not. They interpret the script and work with the actors like all directors do. They may be asked to hold off on some ideas and become resourceful because of the relatively smaller budget provided to them, but other than that restriction, it's all the same across the board for all directors in terms of their responsibilities.
Wet Behind the Ears
A lot of film directors start their careers directing privately funded films. They may finance it on their own or they can ask financial backing from other sources outside the major film networks. It is quite natural that most independent films are fresh and have a new take on the usual movie tropes. With beginner directors bringing their fresh and new point of view in filmmaking, indie films are a great training gorund for directors. That is why the big studios, although not investing their money in these movies, are always monitoring the independent film scene, waiting to discover the next great talent in acting or directing.
Being wet behind the ears and new to the industry carries with it disadvantage. A lot of established actors and crew members are not exactly comfortable in working with a fresh director, especially a first-time director. It simply seems frustrating for veteran members of the crew and actors to work with a director who is just learning the ropes. This is why for independent film directors, getting to work with second-string crew members and B-grade actors is the norm. They not only have to hone their directing skills in independent movies, they also have to hone how they work with the crew and their actors.
With the big studios not involved, indies are relatively more liberated when it comes to content. This sense of freedom is a great help to the director since it provides a bigger room for creativity. However, this can easily lead to indecisiveness on the director's part, leading to frustration among the crew and the actors. The independent film director is responsible not only for making the best out of the story and performances of the casts given a limited budget, but also to be a leader to the entire crew.
So what is an independent film director? The independent director makes the best out of the hand they are dealt with by keeping control at the set and making the budget work to deliver the best story and performances possible.
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