The importance of independent films in mainstream cinema is undeniable. There has been a lot of talk and criticism of independent films because they are thought to be either too abstract, or they lack the potential of a mainstream film. The truth is that 15% of all box office revenue is generated by independent films; this fact alone indicates that there is a definite market for independent films or indie films.
The first thing to understand is that an indie film is a low budget film, made without any financial sourcing from major productions houses or movie studios. A broader classification of independent films also includes non-commercial cinema or art films. In either case Die Hard 4.0 will never ever be termed as an indie film.
Before the late 90's it was very difficult for an independent film maker to make an indie film. The cost of the equipment alone meant that only larger film studios could afford to make movies, however with the price of equipment dropping and with the spread of CGI it was possible for indie filmmakers to recreate expensive overseas locales by using computer generated imagery. What truly made indie films easy to produce was the fact that digital recording equipment made it possible to completely eliminate the cost of buying and developing films used by older 35mm cameras. In 2006 the first High Definition indie film 'One Six Right' was released and the movie is expected to signal a new era in indie film making. What indie films have done is allow younger and relatively inexperienced filmmakers to make films they can showcase. Major film studios like Sony almost never allow younger or relatively inexperienced directors a break at film making.
Film studios require a director to have considerable experience in directing smaller films, or television shows before they can direct for a bigger film studio. Indie films have made it possible for directors to realise their dreams of making a movie of their own. In addition indie films have also made it possible for relatively 'non-commercial' scripts to be directed.
Major film studios always analyze a script to see if the script will be commercially successful and thousands of scripts are rejected each year as film studios feel the films made from such scripts will not make money. Indie films are good for not just upcoming directors, but also for script writers that think outside the box. In essence indie films are vital for the film industry because they help maintain the industry's sense of creativity.
In fact indie films also act as a platform for upcoming artists to perform as film studios rarely make movies with a relatively unknown cast. Today the Sundance festival is the biggest independent film festival in the US and is as important as Cannes, Venice and the Toronto film festivals. Every year thousands of independent film makers from all over the US enter the Sundance film festival. In 2006, 122 feature films from 25 countries were screened at the Sundance film festival, fitting tribute to the impact that indie films have had on main stream cinema.
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