A Sobering Bit of Reality

Interesting article, thanks for posting it. I'm not sure what solutions there are but the part that mentioned a return to short films piqued my interest as that is the area in which I not only want to be a part of but I want to make it the function of my career. I do have ideas for features but a short is more appealing to me as a filmmaker because while a short film needs to be treated differently from a feature, the thing is that with shorts it is more difficult to effectively tell a story because you have less time to do so - a challenge which I think is a good thing.

But getting back to the article posted, I have another thought. Haven't there been major studios that have started their own Independent film studio to do Indie films? If that is the case then which type of Indie film are we talking about here? To me if a major studio has a branch that is dedicated to Indie films then really they're not that independent?
 
A solution is in the pipeline...this has been considered as part of the "fix" I am working on. Great to see the issue raised in print though. Its a huge problem. The other point is that for every good indie film out there, there are hundreds of bad ones, giving the entire indie scene a bad taste for viewers while burying good indie films under the mind staggering amount of rubbish.

There is a solution!!! We have that solution!!!

Stay tuned.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Haven't there been major studios that have started their own Independent film studio to do Indie films? If that is the case then which type of Indie film are we talking about here? To me if a major studio has a branch that is dedicated to Indie films then really they're not that independent?
I agree. The term "indie" has different meaning to different people.
To some it simply means low budget. Some people will not call a big
budget film "indie" even if it was made completely independently of
an studio.

All the studios have created low budget units. To me that isn't independent
- to me independent means without the studios. If Paramount is financing
and distributing a lower budget movie through Insurge, it's still a studio
movie in my opinion.

Some studios that are now called "mini-majors" started as completely
"indie" prodCo's; New Line, Lionsgate, The Weinstein Company and are
still independent of the stidios so I'm comfortable calling them "indie".
 
I agree. The term "indie" has different meaning to different people.
To some it simply means low budget. Some people will not call a big
budget film "indie" even if it was made completely independently of
an studio.

All the studios have created low budget units. To me that isn't independent
- to me independent means without the studios. If Paramount is financing
and distributing a lower budget movie through Insurge, it's still a studio
movie in my opinion.

Some studios that are now called "mini-majors" started as completely
"indie" prodCo's; New Line, Lionsgate, The Weinstein Company and are
still independent of the stidios so I'm comfortable calling them "indie".
That's exactly how I view them. If a studio finances and distributes what they dub an "indie" then it's not one. I am also of the belief that if a famous actor, director or otherwise finances a film on their own and gets it distributed, without going to a studio, I would consider that project an "indie", the person being famous only means the job of financing might have been easier. This especially applies to my view of famous people using crowdfunding sites.

I recently re-watched the documentary that interviews the majority of key players in the Nightmare on Elm Street series titled Never Sleep Again (excellent by the way, the way in which I would like to see all franchises have done for them) and I mention this because with you saying New Line Cinema Directorik it reminded me that while watching Never Sleep Again I came to appreciate what New Line was at the beginning and what it gradually became.

It seems like prodCo's that operate in that way are kind of the building blocks of the industry in some ways as they often discover talents that later go on to do big things, and without which the industry may not have otherwise benefited.
 
Good lord, whatever you do... don't read the comments. There's a whole new breed of special in there, for sure. :abduct:

Good article. The one thing it doesn't address is the rising standard of distributors. The money & deals don't appear to have changed much (still basically nothing), but there's so much content being thrown at them now, that even the bottom-of-the-barrel no-budget film distributors can demand much greater polish from the filmmaker - that's a new (and long overdue) entry barrier coming into play, for those looking to get away from the anything-goes YouTube herd. Not going to wax eloquent on it - suffice to say, better step your game up now. :)

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John Sloss warned back in 2007 that the industry’s problem was not a shortage of films, but a shortage of eyeballs (Mark Gill issued a related warning in 2008). But the industry’s response to this warning has been to make more films.
My issue with this article lies here - he talks about 'the industry' like it's a single contained thing. That works for the major studios, because there's a relatively small number and it's not too difficult to define the boundaries of what constitutes a major studio.

With indies that's not really the case - I mean, it's clearly difficult enough to define what constitutes an independent film vs. an 'indie' film. It gets even harder when you try to treat it like a single industry - does it include every single filmmaker who makes a feature film outside of a major studio? Every festival? Every distribution site? Or do you have to draw a line somewhere between 'real' filmmakers and... I don't know, people who you don't count as part of an industry? That seems pretty arbitrary, and whatever line you draw means your discussion doesn't really represent the full scope of independent film.

So if we don't pick that arbitrary line, how can we discuss 'the industry's response'? 'The Industry' didn't decide to make more films - people did. People who wanted to make films before but didn't have the resources. People who tried to make it in the mainstream industry but couldn't. People who got tired of working within the constraints of the mainstream industry. People who want to make art, not commerce. People who want to make a bunch of money. People who want to be famous. People who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. People who've always wanted to make films, and people who just picked up a camera yesterday.

All of his proposed solutions assume an industry that could choose to work together in it's own interest to improve the economic situation - but that doesn't exist. In fact I'd say the very impulse that drives so many people to try to make an independent film essentially prevents that from existing. Any attempt by industry members to limit the number of independent films, to try to focus them into fewer but better films, is bound to be thwarted by the fact that those outside of whatever structure forms will continue to just make their films, independently, because that's what they do - so there's still going to be too many films.

Here came everybody, and ain't nobody going home soon. Any 'solution' that involves somehow turning back the clock is nothing but wishful thinking. I honestly don't know what the solution is - I'm not even sure there really is one, at least not in the sense everyone seems to be looking for - but I do expect something will emerge gradually over the next decade or two as the old industry continues to wither away and new industries emerge which aren't dependent upon scarcity to exist.
 
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My issue with this article lies here - he talks about 'the industry' like it's a single contained thing. That works for the major studios, because there's a relatively small number and it's not too difficult to define the boundaries of what constitutes a major studio.

With indies that's not really the case - I mean, it's clearly difficult enough to define what constitutes an independent film vs. an 'indie' film. It gets even harder when you try to treat it like a single industry - does it include every single filmmaker who makes a feature film outside of a major studio? Every festival? Every distribution site? Or do you have to draw a line somewhere between 'real' filmmakers and... I don't know, people who you don't count as part of an industry? That seems pretty arbitrary, and whatever line you draw means your discussion doesn't really represent the full scope of independent film.

So if we don't pick that arbitrary line, how can we discuss 'the industry's response'? 'The Industry' didn't decide to make more films - people did. People who wanted to make films before but didn't have the resources. People who tried to make it in the mainstream industry but couldn't. People who got tired of working within the constraints of the mainstream industry. People who want to make art, not commerce. People who want to make a bunch of money. People who want to be famous. People who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. People who've always wanted to make films, and people who just picked up a camera yesterday.

All of his proposed solutions assume an industry that could choose to work together in it's own interest to improve the economic situation - but that doesn't exist. In fact I'd say the very impulse that drives so many people to try to make an independent film essentially prevents that from existing. Any attempt by industry members to limit the number of independent films, to try to focus them into fewer but better films, is bound to be thwarted by the fact that those outside of whatever structure forms will continue to just make their films, independently, because that's what they do - so there's still going to be too many films.

Here came everybody, and ain't nobody going home soon. Any 'solution' that involves somehow turning back the clock is nothing but wishful thinking. I honestly don't know what the solution is - I'm not even sure there really is one, at least not in the sense everyone seems to be looking for - but I do expect something will emerge gradually over the next decade or two as the old industry continues to wither away and new industries emerge which aren't dependent upon scarcity to exist.
The answer really is on the way...I am talking a month or two at most, rather then years or decades.
 
"The truth is that the vast majority of indies are lucky if they can earn $25,000 on VOD."

Revenues can only be guesstimated.
So keep the known budgets/expenses well under your !WILD! revenue guesstimates.
Know how to market.
Know how your film product is going to be distributed.
Probably before the next time you even type "FADE IN:"
 
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The answer really is on the way...I am talking a month or two at most, rather then years or decades.
You've developed a virus that bricks low-cost digital cameras?

Or ninjas specially trained to assassinate anyone who attempts to make a film with less than 15 years of industry experience?

Perhaps you're planning to unleash a global EMP event that will send us all back to the dark ages, watching candle light flicker on cave walls?

As long as it isn't yet another web site for distributing independent films I'm looking forward to seeing what your solution is!
 
As long as it isn't yet another web site for distributing independent films I'm looking forward to seeing what your solution is!
In 2013, I saw at least 15 people who came to the site talking about the new big idea! Trust me, most of those websites are either closed or will be gone in the next couple months or year. Nobody puts any effort into coming up with an original idea for getting the work of filmmakers seen or marketing & promotion.
 
I don't know about the industry as a whole, but I think the solution as a filmmaker trying to stay successful is to make lower and lower budget films. The article mentions films under $5,000,000 but I don't think that's being realistic enough.

I would say don't even write a script that'll cost more than a million to make. And personally, I don't plan to try and make anything that will cost more than $100,000 to produce (at least for the beginning of my career).

Keep your budgets low, so your films are profitable, enabling you to keep making films. That's all any of us can try to do.
 
Keep your budgets low, so your films are profitable, enabling you to keep making films. That's all any of us can try to do.
While that's certainly the only rational way to approach it, that's a big part of the problem he's addresses in the article:

the people who work on indie films are almost always underpaid, if they are even paid at all. But diminishing pay is only one component of a much larger overall problem [...] producers will stretch every dollar they can, which means crews will be asked to do a lot for very little — creating a norm where people are paid about $100 a day for 12+ hours of work. After a few weeks of work, these newly unemployed crewmembers (if they cannot find new work) can end up in a cycle of going on and off unemployment.
Just making films for less isn't a solution, even if it makes them 'profitable'. Unless that profit covers reasonable wages for your cast and crew, as well as yourself, it isn't sustainable - and sustainability is the key.
 
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