Is it possible in an independent industry to make money doing what you love? The short answer is yes. However, the long answer is also yes – but it takes some serious effort to get there. Indie filmmakers are a powerful force in the new media landscape, but many wonder:
How Do They Make Money?
Bardya Ziaian, a fintech executive turned filmmaker during the height of the pandemic successfully produced two comedic indie films, Super Dicks, and Golden Boys, despite the fact that he had no previous experience in the industry. He regularly provides his insights on his professional website, Bardya Pictures Ltd. on his experience as an indie filmmaker.
It’s intimidating to exit one field of study and career and enter into something completely different, especially when you go from a medium that’s considered uncreative into something that’s very creative. At the end of the day, it’s about taking your pre-existing skills and manifesting them into the dreams you want to achieve.
What Is An Independent Film?
The term “independent film” isn’t a hard nor a fast category, but it does describe a type of film not made by one of the major studios. These films have their own unique ecosystem – they’re distributed by independent distributors rather than the major studios, and they typically have lower budgets than those of studio films.
Indie films are also generally made by smaller production companies and directors who may now be well-known directors or those otherwise established in the industry.
The types of people who create indie films could include actors or screenwriters looking to break into directing. Filmmakers making their first feature film are veterans who want to try something different (consider John Waters) or even just someone with a few thousand dollars to spare who wants to tell a unique story.
What Percent of indie Films Make Money?
There is actually a reasonable deal of money to be made in the world of indie films, if you’re decent at your craft.
What you’re more likely to see is an average loss for a film budgeted at approximately (but not always) $100,00 is comparable to about $20 per ticket sold – a far cry from the numbers projected by major studios.
However, if you were lucky enough to get your hands on one of those very rare indie diamonds that makes more than those meager returns – yes, your indie film can make money.
What’s The Average Spent On An Indie Film?
The average cost of an independent indie film largely varies. According to Film Independent, the average budget for a narrative feature costs around $2.5 million, but it can also range between approximately $200,000 and $50 million (including cast, crew, equipment, and props.
It’s important to consider that numbers you read online are just general averages, as some films have a much higher budget than others. The post-production costs alone on a film such as “The Revenant” were far over $130 million.
What Is The Average Made On An Indie Film?
In recent times, independent films have become increasingly popular, as they often tell stories that the average person wants to see, rather than big blockbuster movies with the same storyline that tends to repeat itself.
It’s safe to say that they don’t make as much as blockbuster films or Hollywood features, but they still have the potential to turn a profit. Sometimes, in business, you take risks to make profits and accept the fact that sometimes, in order to succeed, you have to take losses.
Independent films have the potential to generate money because there are more people interested in watching them in comparison to mainstream movies.
How Do You Fund an Indie Film?
Independent films are generally funded by various sources of income. These generally include investors, grants from government agencies and foundations, or even private loans. A combination of these sources will typically finance most indie films.
Some films are financed entirely by one or two individuals who provide all of the necessary capital required to make the film and share the ownership with everyone else involved in the product. In return for their investment, they get a more significant cut of the profits than those who offer less money upfront and less of an ownership stake.
If you’re not prepared to take on the financial risk, indie filmmaking may not be for you, as it takes up much more time and effort than the average person could imagine without a guarantee for reward. Having said that, if you have something meaningful that needs to be expressed, go ahead. There are many ways in which you can finance your passions without spending too much of your own money upfront. However you choose to go about it, I’m sure your passion project will succeed.
If you’re interested in following the experience of other indie filmmakers, consider checking out filmmakers like Bardya Ziaian, Chloe Zhao, or Greta Gerwig to help get an idea of how to get started.