The Risks of Independent Filmmaking

NOTE: This is in response to History of Films, as suggested by the SAE Institute.

The internet has become an entire world of its own, filled with countless unique voices. It is easy to browse through plenty of them and dismiss them being similar altogether. Nevertheless, we could see that people have managed to accomplish great achievements thanks to the insurmountable exposure and resources granted to us today. From social network Reddit solving dormant mysteries (Mashable, 2014) to inventing mind-boggling musical contraptions, like the Marble Machine (ExtremeTech, 2016), receiving high praise, this could only mean a never-ending supply of independently made songs, books, video-games and movies released worldwide, costing very little to do so.

Depending on their success, they could go on to become prominent figures in the industries that they are pursuing (Nilles, 2017). Most creators in today’s digital age are fortunate enough to live in it, since they have more than enough time to be granted plenty of opportunities multiple times – there is no shortage of what success you could obtain in your hands, thanks the most common devices you see currently every day. This is apparent in filmmaking today with the release of 2015’s Tangerine, a film that was shot entirely on an iPhone.

Decades ago, most people had not yet been given such a leverage, since the internet did not exist back then. In addition, the means to submit their independent films costed more (Stephen Follows, 2016), as well as the search for the right festivals around the world being more time-consuming. According to the blog furthermore, filmmakers had to await their approvals through post afterwards, which takes up more time to the overall process of getting their movie seen.

This could turn into a disadvantage, especially for independent filmmakers who are working on their craft full-time, because they are not paid regularly as they depended on royalties to continue living with some semblance to comfort. Prior to this, they had funded their films from their own pockets, often deriving a huge amount from their own bank accounts, increasing their living costs. Filmmaker Kevin Smith had to exceed the limit of dozens of his credit cards, and when that was not enough, Smith “pawned his precious collection of comic books” to make his debut, Clerks, possible (Smith, 1994).

Although this is an issue prevalant today (Bernstein, 2014), it was much more apparent in the pre-internet age. While it is easier to make and distribute films today, some would say that it is even more of a risk now because of increasing competition (Wired, 2016), as there are plenty of places to submit your films. Aside from traditional methods, like through film festivals, they could submit your films to YouTube and Vimeo for free, if that was what they wished. There are other platforms as well, including Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix among others, where independent filmmakers could profit from.

With the variety here, it is safe to assume that there are more than enough films in those platforms’ release schedules, so not enough audiences could see everything made then and there, causing an even bigger risk for independent filmmakers trying to achieve their dream.


Bernstein, P. (2014, December 16). How Do You Make a Living as an Independent Filmmaker? It’s Not Easy. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from

Desta, Y. (2014, March 25). 7 Times the Internet Teamed Up to Solve a Mystery. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from

Fennessey, S. (2017, April 10). The End of Independent Film As We Know It. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from

Greenberg, J. (2017, June 03). As They Take Over Sundance, Netflix and Amazon Are Ushering in a New Age of Indie Films. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from

Lendino, J. (2016, March 2). Watch this giant hand-cranked musical instrument containing 2,000 marbles play music. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from

Nilles, B. (2017, October 22). When YouTubers Leave the Nest: Tracking the Success of the Internet’s Biggest Stars. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from

Smith, C. (1994, October 24). Register Dogs. New York Magazine, 27(42), 51-53. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from

The seismic shift in the world of film festivals. (2016, April 3). Retrieved October 24, 2017, from


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