Just what the hell IS an “Indie Film?”

Everybody talks about “INDEPENDENT FILM” but it means different things to different people. There is not a consistent, clear definition for the concept.

How do you define “INDIE FILM?”

Aside from the famous definition used for porn—”I know it when I see it,”—what specific qualities define a full-length motion picture as “independent?”

Please answer the survey questions. They are about several different elements about movies that may or may not be part of your definition.

To help us understand how you determine that a full-length motion picture might be an “indie film,” please answer how each element may affect your opinion about a movie.

AND if you have comments, please post them here so we can start discussions.


More…“Indie Film” Survey

13 thoughts on “Just what the hell IS an “Indie Film?”

  1. I’m troubled by all this focus on what constitutes an “indie film”. Some might define an indie film as anything that is not produced by 20th Century Fox, and others might say that unless its subject matter is something that 98.7% of mankind could not possibly care less about it doesn’t qualify-and I would imagine the adherents of either view could make a pretty strong case to support their side.

    As a newcomer to this industry, what I would like to see is less time spent on questions like these, and more focus on improving quality.

    I think the “indie” community is at an interesting crossroads–the onset of the digital revolution means entry into filmmaking is much easier than it’s ever been, but it sometimes seems one of the by-products of the “open door” is that there’s a flood of sub-par, half-assed “movies” out there hat, indie or no, would probably have been better left as concets in the minds of their producers.


  2. “Independent” is determined by whether the film is financed by Standard means of that particular region or Alternative means.

    In other words, a film financed by a film studio in Hollywood is NOT independent, because that’s the “normal” way that MOST films are financed and produced in America.
    A film in America is Independent when it’s funded in an Alternative way that is INDEPENDENT of the regular ways of financing and producing a film.
    This could be crowdsourcing, private funds or product placement for example.

    Likewise, in a country like Sweden (where I work), almost all films are financed by the Swedish Film Institute. There are no film studios, only production companies. A production company that finds its money to finance its film OUTSIDE of the regular system and INDEPENDENT of the Swedish Film Institute, therefore makes INDEPENDENT films.

    Filip Tegstedt
    Writer / Director / Producer


  3. An indie is the under-funded bastard-child of a film made by one person working as the writer/producer/director/editor (and sometimes star). Which, upon loving reviews (and matching box office), everyone always knew would be a mega-hit.


  4. The reason this is important is that “Indie” carries connotations, which may be different to different people. As indie creators who need to finance these pictures we need to be able to manage those connotations to our greatest advantage. Indie is generally anything not produced by the Major Studios/Traditional routes.
    They generally range from costing 0 to 5 million dollars. Content & quality plays no role in this distinction (and that gets a little sticky for our connotations because some folks have the impression that “indie” means video camera shot, unintelligible masturbatory or too experimental or juvenile to attract a significant audience). While one could raise and spend more to make an indie, it generally doesn’t happen that way because it’s not practical and any film that could get 10 million thrown at it through unconventional financing could probably get the majors sniffing at it anyway. The Indie also suffers from not having a built in mechanism and powerhouse/funds for serious marketing campaign that would get it into and draw people to theaters, and or generate distribution,rentals and direct sales. We need to learn how to get effective marketing and distribution and manage the “Indie” connotation to our advantage.
    Nuff said;)


  5. As a moviemaker, I’ve made a conscious effort to abandon the term “Indie” entirely (even did a whole post on my Multi-Hyphenate site about it awhile ago).

    Because of the overwhelming amount of both connotations and meanings, the term “indie” is about as useful in entertainment and creativity as “motor” is in front of car.

    I always hope everyone has an “independent” voice – unique, and exciting. That’s all our audiences care about.

    Well, that, and being entertained and getting their money’s worth.

    Great topic!


    • That’s a nice sentiment, but in the end whether we use the moniker “indie” or not, it (or somply its connotations) will be foisted upon us anyway, unless our films have big names and production budgets that might possibly give people the impression that they slip right in the door with movies made and distributed by majors, movies the mainstream comprehend and have a reference for.


  6. Simple- indie film is film backed with no major label, unless that label is a distributor.

    Now, what I would like the defenition indie film to be is slightly different. I would like indie film to not be at all unionized, more grass-roots, and full control of the team involved- all the way through marketing the final product.


  7. To me “independent” is not so much a property or quality of a film but refers more to the situation of a person.
    If, in making the film, you are independent of outside directives or manipulations, you have a chance to make an independet film.
    Yes, @Tyler, it’s all about cultivating one’s independent voice 😉


  8. An ‘independent film’ is a film that does not receive the majority of its funding from one of the major Hollywood studios: Warner, Fox, Paramount, Columbia, Disney/Touchstone, and Universal. (Wikipedia – Major Film Studios: http://bit.ly/bz8zvw )

    And that’s it. It isn’t an artistic style or an attitude, although the some use the ‘indie’ label to imply this for marketing and promotion purposes. It’s purely a definition for accountants.


  9. It’s true that the term “indie” has become somewhat meaningless. I’ve always preferred the term “undie” for the truly original underground films made by truly independent filmmakers who have totally conceived, financed, written, produced and directed, and yes, even acted in,the worthy or unworthy opus by this totally committed film making nut-job!
    Comme moi!

    Fred Baker


  10. Pingback: I am not an Indepedent Filmmaker | The KR7productions Blog

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