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Define Independent Filmmaking

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 2/24/2011

To define independent filmmaking, we need a strong understanding of how traditional movie studio filmmaking works. It is an entire process that runs on a budget, and that is what independent filmmaking sets itself apart.

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    Filmmaking To define independent filmmaking, we must first define what filmmaking is. Filmmaking is the process of conceptualizing, shooting and distributing a movie. These processes can be broken down to smaller processes such as writing a script, hiring crew members, casting, post-production, advertising and more. All of these processes require money to accomplish. For big movie studios, they can afford to dedicate a hefty sum as a film's budget, providing a way for filmmakers to hire more crew members, cast big stars, execute an impressive promotion campaign and distribute their films to a wide audience. Independent filmmaking, however, is limited to a smaller budget since it is initiative by filmmakers outside the major movie studios.

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    The Process

    The stages of filmmaking is practically the same in independent filmmaking and major movie studio filmmaking. Scripts are written, crew members and actors are hired, and the film is distributed. However, with the limited budget independent filmmakers have, they are usually limited to casting less famous actors, hiring fewer crew members and small audiences. A limited budget also usually means inferior filmmaking equipment, less than ideal locations and poor to average quality post-production, especially for films that require special effects which are very costly.

    What independent filmmakers enjoy in the filmmaking process, though, is a greater freedom in creative direction. Since there is no big studio observing their every move, filmmakers are free to do whatever they want to achieve their creative vision.

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    Advertising and Distribution

    Although independent filmmaking does not have a huge difference in the filmmaking process compared to movies produced by major movie studios, it does have a very substantial disadvantage when it comes to advertising and distribution. With a limited budget, independent filmmakers are forced to get creative in putting out the word on their movie. This usually involves joining film festivals all around the world to get the attention of movie studios who have the power and the means to distribute films to a wide audience.

    Film distribution can be the hardest part of independent filmmaking since it requires an established distribution system that includes DVD publishing and digital distribution over the Internet. Speaking of the Internet, many independent filmmakers, particularly those who do not have a major movie studio backing them up in distribution, turn to the Internet to get their product out there. They usually offer their films for free to get as many eyes seeing it as possible. This may not be a very profitable way of producing movies, but it can pave a way for future engagements with movie studios and larger audiences, especially if the movie is a success.

    So, to define independent filmmaking, it is simply a form of filmmaking that requires more creativity in the part of filmmakers to produce the best film their budget can support and to deliver it to as many eyes as possible. It takes more than a creative vision to successfully create an independent film. It also takes some business and marketing savvy to make the film a success in both creative and financial terms.

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    Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution / Supplied by Dan Prates