indie Seriously, is it over?

I think I started following the Indie film phenomenon back in 2000 or 2001. Back then all of us drew inspiration from films that, in their day, must have been considered Indie films. They were shot on film, which requires a little bit more overhead just to make the movie since cheap digital cameras and software weren't around yet but even with the cost of film, direct and indirect, they were cheap and financed on a shoestring by Hollywood outsiders, and they made money.

In the 2000s when prosumer digital hit, I know of at least 3 indie film makers who produced films for as little as 10 grand and they all found distribution deals. I don't know about profit but they did get their films out there and at least earned a chance at some amount of recognition. That was back when distributors made package deals with their clients and could slip in a few dogs they used to pad their catalog. The guys I know of had their films distributed on
VHS and DVD and some streaming.

DVDs are being replaced with Blu-Ray discs and many "experts" predict the demise of Blu-Ray is right around the corner... That leaves streaming.

I don't really know enough about streaming to make any claims about which way the wind will blow but I have heard a few stories from Indie film makers who tell the same tale of having their movie(s), that were once being offered on Amazon Prime and other steaming outlets, removed. I for one had a 20 minute horror short on Amazon Prime for a year or so until the day they removed it. I think their explanation was that it wasn't popular enough. Although it was not a great horror short, it was ok. Considering that digital storage space is cheap, I can't believe that having my movie around was cutting into their profit margin. I believe that it is possible that Indie films, the micro-budget films that are a guilty please to some, are no longer welcome by the people who are only in the game for money; the steaming service executives.

So, what do you think, is it over for the micro-budget Indie film makers? I say "micro-budget indie film makers" because these days, films being made for hundreds of thousands of dollars are being called Indie. I'm talking about the backyard film makers. What happens to people who want to make a movie that has some commercial value but no stars, no distribution deal, no connection with Hollywood at all. Is it over?

I'm not saying I believe micro-budget Indie film makers should be entitled to distribution. It's a free market. I"m just wondering if the season has passed and people are more interested in 10 minute Youtube "amusement" clips than movies with a narrative.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
I can't speak for anyone but myself.. i made my first film in 2014 and i still think's pretty good but the analytics say most people stopped watching halfway through. and it still has under 2,000 views.

In these past 8 years I've made absolutely no progress in establishing any audience or fanbase, i might as well have been dead for all the impact ive had on the world
 
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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
What happens to people who want to make a movie that has some commercial value
What gives it commercial value? I'm not being argumentative but asking a serious question. Things (movies, books, houses, whatever) are worth what people will pay for them.

I share your frustration with Amazon Prime. It's hard to figure out what their goal is these days.

If you do want to try to get a short out somewhere other than YouTube, you can check out FilmHub, which is what I use for my 2 features. They DO have technical requirements, which are designed to reflect what the streamers that use them require, but don't require stars etc. It doesn't cost anything to set up a movie on there, and if it doesn't pass their QC, they only thing you've wasted is some time.
 
I have seen a ton of movies and still think of this movie as one of the greats that I have seen, but I am not a movie critic, just think it’s an excellent movie to watch for a lot of reasons, and it is obviously an indie movie lol. 1995 is a bit old sure, but it’s just as good as Stargate to me or whatever else was out then in 1995 , Escape to LA or whatever, Even just as enjoyable as Twister which was a blockbuster with a huge budget. So is marketing and cast the reason for a movies “success”? From a movie watcher perspective, I could care less about those aspects.

If the movie is good, it’s just good!

Having an outlet/service for people that love movies for the quality of the movie in what makes a movie fun/dramatic and great to watch could possibly be real in the future:) There sure is a lot of new/and old garbage out there these days that nobody is impressed with so I think nobody cares to take the time to even check out a lot of work, but they all love great movies:) With the large amount of content out there, it’s possible people need a lot more convincing in general to even start a movie to watch.

I also don’t think it’s over because we will eventually move into VR movies, which will add so many more dimensions to storytelling IMO. Just my opinions of course as I am no pro.
 
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indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
Art doesn't die with technology, it adapts. TV didn't die with the CRT tube, and movies didn't die with VHS. Relaxxxxxxx mannnnnn.
 
That's sort of right, and sort of wrong. Our industry is on the verge of extinction, but it's not because of technology. We are actually more capable and free than we've ever been. I wrote a 2 page response about the real problems that basically guarantee doom for the creative small business, but honestly, I don't see the advantage of kicking a beehive and then coming back here to stand behind that decision for a week. I don't know a single person who agrees with me on politics, (I just think capitalism with a wealth cap, so we have drive and reward, but limit monopolies and compounding advantages for individuals that no longer actually contribute, such as wealthy inheritors that consider spending unearned money to be work or achievement)

People with tens of millions of dollars are out there crying onto twitter about how they just don't have a fair shot anymore in the movie business, and you know what, I believe them. What is entitlement? It's thinking that you deserve rewards for just being who you are. (both parties should think about that a bit) It's not entitlement when you work 3x as hard as another person and ask to be given equal rewards. Long story short, deregulating all the businesses until they became so dominant that almost no one except them could even possibly succeed, may not be the stroke of genius republicans think it was. North Korea did that in the biggest way possible, with 7 corporations essentially acting as the government, and now they have money, but it's a communist caste system, and if you're born a shop clerk, you die a shop clerk. That's not my America. I will literally die before I sell myself into servitude to the high school dropout from the richest family in town.


 
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What gives it commercial value? I'm not being argumentative but asking a serious question. Things (movies, books, houses, whatever) are worth what people will pay for them.
No, please. it is a serious question and I do agree with you. Value is the same as beauty; it is in the eyes of the beholder. I think it is fair and safe to assume that if someone made a cheap-o movie about a werewolf, someone will want to watch it because they LOVE werewolves. Or a terrible terrible film about nothing at all BUT it has a few naked people climbing a rope. Someone will watch. It's not quality but you could argue that both the werewolf and the nude rope climbers are examples of commercial value.
Art doesn't die with technology, it adapts. TV didn't die with the CRT tube, and movies didn't die with VHS. Relaxxxxxxx mannnnnn.
I'm not even sure we're talking about technology. It could be a shift in what constitutes entertainment. I admit that I would rather watch a half hour of cats running and jumping and walking on their hind legs than most movies being released these days. Give me a free ticket to see the latest BLOCKBUSTER or the URL to a good documentary and I'll take the documentary every time.
That's sort of right, and sort of wrong. Our industry is on the verge of extinction, but it's not because of technology. We are actually more capable and free than we've ever been. I wrote a 2 page response about the real problems that basically guarantee doom for the creative small business, but honestly, I don't see the advantage of kicking a beehive and then coming back here to stand behind that decision for a week. I don't know a single person who agrees with me on politics, (I just think capitalism with a wealth cap, so we have drive and reward, but limit monopolies and compounding advantages for individuals that no longer actually contribute, such as wealthy inheritors that consider spending unearned money to be work or achievement)

People with tens of millions of dollars are out there crying onto twitter about how they just don't have a fair shot anymore in the movie business, and you know what, I believe them. What is entitlement? It's thinking that you deserve rewards for just being who you are. (both parties should think about that a bit) It's not entitlement when you work 3x as hard as another person and ask to be given equal rewards. Long story short, deregulating all the businesses until they became so dominant that almost no one except them could even possibly succeed, may not be the stroke of genius republicans think it was. North Korea did that in the biggest way possible, with 7 corporations essentially acting as the government, and now they have money, but it's a communist caste system, and if you're born a shop clerk, you die a shop clerk. That's not my America. I will literally die before I sell myself into servitude to the high school dropout from the richest family in town.
Nate, I agree with every point you've made. The problem isn't with liberals or conservatives. It's not with deregulation or regulated. I don't even think it's about democracy or communism. I think simply has to do with people being corrupt by nature. maybe not all, but all are not in control of the destiny of the rest. Only a small handful of people on this planet are in control of the rest of us and I know this seems extremely off subject but I think you are right. We are in a no win situation,,, for now. Those who have are more greedy and unconcerned with the rest of us than anytime I can remember in my lifetime.

.... but all I really wanted to talk about was the question, is it even worth making micro budget films any longer? Not for art or personal satisfaction but for a chance at making some money? How much money? Let's say a net profit of 10% in 5 years. That might only be a few thousand dollars, but from what I've seen, it just isn't happening.
 
No, please. it is a serious question and I do agree with you. Value is the same as beauty; it is in the eyes of the beholder. I think it is fair and safe to assume that if someone made a cheap-o movie about a werewolf, someone will want to watch it because they LOVE werewolves. Or a terrible terrible film about nothing at all BUT it has a few naked people climbing a rope. Someone will watch. It's not quality but you could argue that both the werewolf and the nude rope climbers are examples of commercial value.

I'm not even sure we're talking about technology. It could be a shift in what constitutes entertainment. I admit that I would rather watch a half hour of cats running and jumping and walking on their hind legs than most movies being released these days. Give me a free ticket to see the latest BLOCKBUSTER or the URL to a good documentary and I'll take the documentary every time.

Nate, I agree with every point you've made. The problem isn't with liberals or conservatives. It's not with deregulation or regulated. I don't even think it's about democracy or communism. I think simply has to do with people being corrupt by nature. maybe not all, but all are not in control of the destiny of the rest. Only a small handful of people on this planet are in control of the rest of us and I know this seems extremely off subject but I think you are right. We are in a no win situation,,, for now. Those who have are more greedy and unconcerned with the rest of us than anytime I can remember in my lifetime.

.... but all I really wanted to talk about was the question, is it even worth making micro budget films any longer? Not for art or personal satisfaction but for a chance at making some money? How much money? Let's say a net profit of 10% in 5 years. That might only be a few thousand dollars, but from what I've seen, it just isn't happening.
ok, so here's something that would really clarify things a lot. It's going to sound like a stupid suggestion, but bear with me. There is this mobile game, it's called Rebel Inc. the guy who made it is a certified genius, and it's mechanics are taken directly from masses of statistical research about how things actually turn out in the real world.

Long story short, corruption is about 15% across the board, not in any one group, but in humans as a whole, assuming you consider turning a blind eye to corruption as corruption. It will relieve you to know that only about 3% are actually psychopaths in the medical sense. The issue is that psychopaths have significant advantages when it comes to rising to the top of hierarchies. Good people don't employ much in the way of negative tactics, and that's a disadvantage vs someone who does. In addition, once others see a corrupt person succeeding, they often feel that they can't compete unless they also become corrupt. We saw that in steroid use with athletes. That's why none of these ideologies actually work. Most start with a good idea, help business grow, help victims of a society emerging from racial and sexual prejudices get a fair shake. Add some time to the equation, and here's what you get, a bunch of polarized people sweeping all their friends in the door and shutting everyone else out. That's the true nature of humanity. Skin doesn't matter, sex doesn't matter, you just take any random group of people, give them some power, and they will fuck everything up. I don't know the solution, and I suspect the people claiming brazenly to have it all worked out know far less than I do. Dunning Krueger is rampaging in the age of social media.

Short answer, I'm sorry buddy, it is over, for all of us. Indie films don't make money any more. We would all do well to find ways to keep our love of this artform intact, but simultaneously move forward with the current and find ways to monetize the very real things we have to contribute to the world at a level that makes sense.

I've read and watched a lot of your output, and you're functioning at a genius or near genius level. I think that people like you will ultimately find a path forward, even in an adverse situation.
 
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indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
Ah yes. 1985, and a micro budget indie film (according to imdb).

 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Maybe I'm just an idiot (I've been called worse), but think about it this way. Five years before that great moment for indie films, no one knew it was coming. And when it was there, no one knew when it would be gone.

So don't ASSUME that there won't be another opportunity. Make the best movie you can make for the budget you have. Do whatever you can to get it seen by people who like werewolves or naked girls or guys or whatever. Don't bankrupt yourself but don't waste your life feeling miserable because your missed out on something 37 years ago.

You don't know what next year or the year after or the year after that will be.

When I worked in foreign exchange trading, markets moved constantly based on rumors. I always told my clients to ignore them because those who know, don't talk. And those who talk, don't know.

Same is true in movies. No one actually KNOWS what will happen next. Just as no one knew what the Covid 19 pandemic would do to streaming and movie theaters and all the rest of it. Spend less time worrying about what you missed and more time just doing it (with apologies to Nike).

Rant over. :)
 
lol, you call that a rant! I'm having to suppress my competitive streak, lol jk.

I Seriously doubt anyone here thinks you are an idiot. You're only one of the most successful filmmakers on the forum.

About the main point. I think you're somewhat right and somewhat wrong. Some trends follow a random sine wave, some things go the way of the dodo. You might be right, I don't really know.

At this moment in time, after 40 years of income inequality increasing at a steady rate, I'm saying things that take major starting capitol to work are going to be less viable for most people. As you say though, it's only a prediction. I can see red becoming the new black again in 5 years, or high top sneakers coming back, but I can't see a future where the super rich quit exsanguinating the poor and middle class, simply because there is little to no resistance left for them.

Where I think the machine breaks down is marketing. I can make a movie that's better than a rich person makes, but everyone hears about their film, and no one hears about mine. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? In my experience, I could paint the Mona Lisa, or starry night, and if no one came to see it because I was poor, it didn't matter when it comes to paying overhead.

And This is how you kill a dream, you cut off access to mandatory resources and then just watch them bleed out. When the system reached a point where you had to pay a huge toll to succeed creatively, that was the end. I'm not rich enough to qualify to receive a paycheck, which keeps me poor, so I can't qualify to earn. Viral success is super random, and I think people drastically overestimate how often it happens without a little nudging.

This is likely the only theater I'll ever have access to -

here in their own words, you can see what has to happen in order to receive one paycheck for half of your work.

To be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, your channel must have:

Once your account meets these requirements, you can begin the application process which involves agreeing to their terms and conditions, signing up for Google AdSense, and setting your monetization preferences.

You read that correctly, you have to entertain people for 40,000 hours before you get paid for one hour. A robot plays your video, and the robot takes 50% revenue from your work. Up until the 40k hour mark, the robot takes 100% of my earnings, and literally sends it to some of the richest people in the world.

If I was a teenager with wealthy parents, I could just pay 15 grand to get the watch hours, and bypass this in an afternoon. Since I come from the wrong caste, I'll have to work for years at the top of my game to equivocate what a lazy stupid person can do in an hour. Ask a waitress how they would feel about serving tables for 40,000 hours before they became eligible for tips, and see how that strikes them. Now tell them that they have to get 15 grand in tips to qualify to work enough shifts to start earning the right to get paid.

I don't enjoy being a downer, but I call it like I see it.

Detours was a better film the White Chicks, but you got shorted 70 million at the ATM.
 
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That's sort of right, and sort of wrong. Our industry is on the verge of extinction, but it's not because of technology. We are actually more capable and free than we've ever been. I wrote a 2 page response about the real problems that basically guarantee doom for the creative small business, but honestly, I don't see the advantage of kicking a beehive and then coming back here to stand behind that decision for a week. I don't know a single person who agrees with me on politics, (I just think capitalism with a wealth cap, so we have drive and reward, but limit monopolies and compounding advantages for individuals that no longer actually contribute, such as wealthy inheritors that consider spending unearned money to be work or achievement)

People with tens of millions of dollars are out there crying onto twitter about how they just don't have a fair shot anymore in the movie business, and you know what, I believe them. What is entitlement? It's thinking that you deserve rewards for just being who you are. (both parties should think about that a bit) It's not entitlement when you work 3x as hard as another person and ask to be given equal rewards. Long story short, deregulating all the businesses until they became so dominant that almost no one except them could even possibly succeed, may not be the stroke of genius republicans think it was. North Korea did that in the biggest way possible, with 7 corporations essentially acting as the government, and now they have money, but it's a communist caste system, and if you're born a shop clerk, you die a shop clerk. That's not my America. I will literally die before I sell myself into servitude to the high school dropout from the richest family in town.


Has Sandra Bullock made a great indie film yet, Just curious, not being sarcastic, just curious :)
 
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I'm lost, who is Bullock? Do you mean Sandra from the clip?

I don't think so. There's a bit of a semantics problem discussing indie film these days. When people talk about an indie filmmaker, they are talking about someone with 10 million dollars. The rest of us are simply too distasteful to be included in polite conversation. Micro budget (doomed to fail for the crime of being too poor) is around 1 million dollars.

I don't think Sandra Bullock has needed to take any indie roles, and if she did, I doubt it would be what you're thinking about when you say that word. I think the last movie was maybe 40 million, so she's not quite there yet.
 
I'm lost, who is Bullock? Do you mean Sandra from the clip?

I don't think so. There's a bit of a semantics problem discussing indie film these days. When people talk about an indie filmmaker, they are talking about someone with 10 million dollars. The rest of us are simply too distasteful to be included in polite conversation. Micro budget (doomed to fail for the crime of being too poor) is around 1 million dollars.

I don't think Sandra Bullock has needed to take any indie roles, and if she did, I doubt it would be what you're thinking about when you say that word. I think the last movie was maybe 40 million, so she's not quite there yet.
Was a dumb question :) Just wondered
 
Actually, it's 4,000 watched hours. Aside from my own channel, I've helped a few clients get theirs up and running and 4,000 hours isn't that hard to achieve. On my channel, I had ten episodes of a "survival" show (really just me backpacking) that found their audience and got the 4,000 hours real quick. Then I was able to monetize my $2000 feature and it's made about $10,000 since then and has 1.5 million views.

My point is that you can easily make some throw away content to get the views and subscribers, which will then allow you to monetize the real project. Pick a niche, create cheap, easy content for that niche, and the views will come. Again, I've seen this with my clients too. I've got a financial guy that does a weekly video about the stock market. Every Monday, I go film his update, drop in his power point behind him, and upload to his channel. The whole process takes five hours out of my Monday. In four months, his channel went from 5 subscribers to 9000, and he's had a few of his videos get over 40K views, one of them even has 400K. His channel has easily passed all the required metrics - in less than 4 months! Anyone can do this.
 
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