how to make an independent film

Want to make an independent film but don’t know where to start?

There are many things to consider, from the story to the technical aspects of filmmaking. As an indie filmmaker myself, I know how hard it is to learn all of the steps required to actually finish your indie movie!

In this article, we will discuss some of the most important things you need to know in order to make your indie film a success. Whether you’re making a feature film, a documentary, or a short film, we’ll cover everything from finding funding and writing a script, to film production management to shooting and editing your movie.

So if you’re ready to make your indie film dreams a reality, keep reading!

What Is an Independent Film?

An independent film is a movie that is produced outside of the traditional Hollywood studio system.

Independent films are usually made with independent financing, which means that they are not beholden to the major studios and can take risks that the studios wouldn’t usually take. They can be made by smaller, independent studios or by individual filmmakers. This results in independent films often having a more unique vision than studio films.

Independent films are also typically smaller in scope than studio films, which makes them more intimate and personal. Because of this, independent films often capture a different perspective than what is typically seen in mainstream cinema.

Whether or not you’re a fan of independent films, there’s no denying that they play an essential role in the film industry. By taking risks and telling stories that are outside the mainstream major studios, independent filmmakers help to broaden the range of stories that we see on screen.

In capturing this indie spirit, they remind us that there is more to cinema than blockbuster hits and big-budget special effects!

how to make an indie film

The History of Independent Film

Although independent filmmaking has been around for decades, it has only recently begun to receive the attention it deserves.

In the past, indie films were often seen as inferior to studio productions, but that is no longer the case. Thanks to independent filmmakers’ efforts, audiences can now enjoy a broader range of movies than ever before.

Also, thanks to technological advances, it is now easier than ever for independent filmmakers to get their movies made and distributed. As a result, there has been a surge in the number of well-known examples of indie movies. Some of the most popular indie movies include The Blair Witch Project, Napoleon Dynamite, and Juno. These low-budget films, created by independent film companies, have all been highly successful, both critically and commercially.

Independent filmmakers can tell unique and personal stories without having to conform to the Hollywood standard. As a result, indie movies are often more innovative and experimental than traditional Hollywood fare, yet many have found mainstream audiences. For these reasons, independent filmmaking is likely to continue to grow in popularity in the years to come.

Well-Known Examples of Indie Movies

Many indie movies have become well-known over the years.

One example is The Blair Witch Project. The movie was made on a shoestring budget of $60,000 (est.) and became a huge success, earning over $250 million at the box office.

Another well-known independent movie is Juno. The movie was made for just $7 million and grossed over $140 million worldwide. These are just two examples of how indie movies can be huge successes.

Many other indie movies have also gained popularity, such as Napoleon Dynamite, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Paranormal Activity, and Little Miss Sunshine. These movies prove that indie films can be both popular and profitable!

And remember, a successful indie film doesn’t have to be a feature. It can also be a short, and many indie short films have found audiences worldwide, and some have even led to feature film adaptations. Notable examples include Alive in Joburg, THX-1138, and Lights Out.

My own indie short, Boneyard Racers, was made on a shoestring budget of $500. Despite the tiny price tag, it won many awards worldwide, from Best Film to acting, cinematography, and soundtrack honors. It also found distribution on ShortsTV!

You can check out the trailer for Boneyard Racers below!

The Step-by-Step Guide to Making An Independent Film

Step 1: Determine the story you want to tell

Every great film starts with a great story, so the first step in making an independent film is determining the story you want to tell. This may seem like a daunting task, but there are a few ways to go about brainstorming great movie ideas.

One option is to start with a personal story that you want to share with the world.

Alternatively, you could adapt a book or play that you love (as long as you have either secured the rights to the story from the author/playwright or the work is in the public domain).

Or you could come up with an original concept that you think would make for an unforgettable film.

Whichever approach you take, the key is finding a story you’re passionate about and think others will connect with. Once you have an idea of the story you want to tell, you can start developing the characters and plot. If you’re unsure where to start, consider brainstorming with a friend or family member who is also interested in filmmaking.

In today’s world, AI story generators are an excellent tool for creative people who need a bit of help to get ideas for a great movie plot. By inputting a few key details, you can get an AI story generator to spit out a wholly original and unique storyline that you can use as the basis for your next project.

In addition to being a great source of inspiration, AI story generators can also help you to save time by doing the heavy lifting for you in terms of plot development. If you’re struggling to develop ideas for your next film, consider using an AI story generator to give you a helping hand.

Step 2: Write the script (or have it written!)

Once you’ve decided to make an indie film, the next step in pre-production is to write the script or hire someone to write it for you. If you’re going to write the script yourself, you’ll need to consider the story, characters, and dialogue.

  • What is the film about?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What do they want?
  • What obstacles are in their way?
  • How will the story resolve itself?
  • How will you incorporate these aspects of the story into your story beat online?

Answering these questions will help you to develop a clear and concise original screenplay. Don’t forget to get the best keyboard and laptop for writers when you start writing your screenplay!

In addition to writing the script, you will likely also need to write a script synopsis, logline, treatment, and/or outline.

Make sure you use the best screenwriting software for your indie film project to ensure that your formatting is professionally done!

If you write the script yourself, ensure that you get a professional to read your screenplay and give you script coverage. This means that they will break down your script and give you notes on the various aspects of the script, such as characters, dialogue, and plot development.

If you’re hiring someone to write the script, you’ll need to provide them with guidance on what you’re looking for. Be sure to interview several candidates and find someone who shares your vision for the film.

After the script is written, you could try entering it into a number of screenplay competitions. You’ll get a feel for how your script stacks up compared to others, and some contests will even give brief notes on the script for free. Others allow you to pay for more detailed feedback.

Step 3. Find a cast and crew

A producer is a key member of an indie film crew, typically responsible for everything from organizing people and equipment to securing money and permits. Whether this role is something you want to take on yourself or rely on someone else to provide – that’s up to you.

But if this is your first movie, be aware that producing films is an art form that relies on project management, people skills, and filmmaking experience. So, learn as much as possible about indie film production if you are doing it yourself!

Now that you’ve written your script and found a producer who believes in your vision, it’s time to assemble your cast and crew.

This is often one of the most challenging steps in the pre-production filmmaking process, as you need to find people who are not only talented but also willing to work for little or no money.

One way to find potential cast and crew members is to hold open auditions or meetings where you can explain your project and see who is interested. You can also reach out to friends and acquaintances who might be able to recommend someone for the job.

Another way to find potential collaborators is to attend film festivals and industry events. These provide an opportunity to meet a variety of filmmakers and learn about their projects and find common ground.

You can also use online resources such as social media and job boards to connect with potential cast and crew members.

Once you’ve connected with some potential collaborators, the next step is to assess their skills and see if they’re a good fit for your project. After all, even the most talented filmmaker, actor, or crewmember will not be a good fit for every project.

Now that you’ve assembled your team, it’s time to start making your independent film!

person holding clapperboard

Step 4. Pre-production: What To Do

Few things in life are as rewarding as seeing your creative vision come to life on the big screen. However, making an independent film is no easy feat.

In addition to raising funds and assembling a cast and crew, several technical details must be taken care of during the pre-production phase.

This includes securing locations, preparing the shooting script, creating a shooting schedule, securing the necessary equipment (cameras, lighting, sound, costumes, props, green screens, etc.) to use in front of and behind the camera, and obtaining the necessary permits.

While it may seem like a lot of work, planning for your shoot correctly will pay off in the end. By taking care of all the logistical details ahead of time safely and legally, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters – making your movie.

Step 5: Production: How to actually film your movie

Now that you’ve written your script and lined up your financing, it’s time to start filming your movie.

Production is the process of actually shooting the film, and there are a few key things to keep in mind.

First, make sure you have a fantastic crew. A competent team will help the filmmaking process run smoothly and can make all the difference between a good movie and a great one.

Then, you’ll need to secure a location or locations where you’ll be shooting. This may involve working with a location scout or renting space from a property owner.

Once you have a firm grasp of where you’ll be filming, you can begin planning your shots. Storyboards can help visualize each scene, and a shot list will ensure you don’t miss anything important.

Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to start setting up cameras, lights, and other equipment on your first day of principal photography. This is where having a solid crew comes in handy – they can help ensure everything is set up correctly so you can focus on directing.

You’ll want to have a high-quality camera, some low-key lighting, and quality sound equipment.

While filming, pay attention to the details. The small things can often make a significant impact on screen, so take care to create a believable and visually appealing world for your characters.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Filmmaking is an art, so give yourself permission to try new things and find your own unique voice. It’s also a collaborative process, so listen to your cast and crew when they have questions, comments, and concerns.

A Man Sitting on Front of the Computer while Editing Video

Step 6: Post-production: How to edit your film

One of the most critical steps in making a movie is post-production, which is when you edit your film. Here are some tips on how to effectively edit your film:

Step One: First, you’ll need an effective and reliable editing program (or, these days, an AI video editing program!) with which to assemble and work on your raw footage. There are several different platforms on which you can edit your film, each with pros and cons, depending on what you’re looking for, so do your due diligence and find the right editing software for you.

Step Two: Watch your raw footage multiple times and take notes on what works and doesn’t. This will help you identify the best takes from each portion of each scene and which scenes need to be cut or shortened.

Step Three: Next, start putting together a rough cut of your film using the editing program. Don’t worry about making it perfect at this stage – get the basic structure down.

Step Four: Once you have a rough cut, it’s time to start fine-tuning. Editing is the process of selecting the best takes and the best sections of each take and assembling them into a cohesive whole. Being selective in video editing is essential, as too much footage can make your film feel disjointed and unfocused. You’ll also want to pay attention to the flow of your edits, making sure that each cut makes sense in the context of the scene and in terms of continuity and narrative flow.

Step Five: Get feedback on your post-production rough cut from trusted friends and fellow filmmakers when possible. Fine-tuning takes time, and other people may see errors or areas requiring change that you didn’t. Remember, the goal of the editing process is a professional-looking movie.

Step Six: Once you’ve edited your footage, you’ll need to add music, Foley, sound effects, and/or visual effects. This can help set the mood and tone of your film and make certain scenes more impactful. You may also need to do some ADR voice-over work if it’s hard to hear the dialogue in any scenes. If you’re not experienced with composing, finding music, sound effects, or creating digital visual effects, plenty of resources online can help you out. You can even use an AI music generator, which can take your style input and create unique music for you!

Step Seven: Next, you’ll need to finalize the look of your film. This includes color correction, adding titles and credits, and anything else that will make your film look its best. You may also want to add some stock video footage to your film, as it will allow you to enhance your visual storytelling while staying within your budget constraints. Your editing program should be able to help you with these tasks as well.

Step Eight: Finally, once you’re happy with how your film looks, it’s time to export it and share it with the world!

Step Nine: If you find that your video production quality is not quite at the level you’d like it to be, you can always use AI video upscaling software to make your indie film footage look 4K and amazing!

Alternatively, you could hire a film editor to do all of these steps for you!

film marketing

Step 7: Marketing and Promotion

After spending countless hours writing, shooting, and editing your own movie, it’s finally time to start thinking about how to best connect with the potential audience for the film.

To get people actually to see your film, you need to put in some effort on the marketing and promotion front. This can be a daunting task, but there are a few simple steps you can take to get started.

The first step is to put together a press kit. This should include a synopsis of your film, production stills, biographies of the cast and crew, and contact information.

Next, you’ll need to identify your target audience and develop a strategy for reaching them. This might involve screening your film at festivals, holding special preview screenings, or partnering with organizations that share your target audience.

One of the most important things you can do in post-production is to create a solid online presence for your film. Make sure to set up a website and social media accounts well before your release date and post engaging content that will generate buzz. Also, ensure that you harness the power of social media to get people talking about your film.

Regardless of your route, remember that marketing and promotion are essential for getting your successful production seen by audiences!

Step 8: Get Your Film Into Film Festivals

After months (or maybe even years) of blood, sweat, and tears, your film is finally finished. Congratulations! But your work is not entirely done yet.

The next step is to get your film into film festivals. This can be a complex process, but it’s worth it if you want your finished film to be seen by a wider audience.

You can do a few things to increase your chances of getting into a film festival.

First, research the festivals that are most likely to accept your type or genre of film. Then, submit your film to as many festivals as possible within your budget. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on deadlines, especially as entry fees tend to increase closer to the festival’s final deadline and make sure your submission is complete and professional.

Finally, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get into every film festival you apply to. Remember that even the most successful films sometimes face rejection.

If you believe in your film, keep submitting it, and eventually, you will find the right festival for it!

Step 9: Distribution

The final step in making an independent movie is distribution. This is the process of making the film available to audiences, and there are many different ways to do this.

One option we’ve already discussed is submitting the film to festivals and competitions. This can be a great way to generate buzz and get the film seen by industry professionals. A solid festival run may also be beneficial if you want to contact distribution companies directly to discuss your film.

Another option is to release the film online through platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. This is an excellent way to reach a global audience. It can be a cost-effective way to distribute the film, particularly if you already have a sizeable social media presence or following.

Finally, rather than the traditional route of finding a film distributor, some filmmakers choose to self-distribute their films, whether online or through independent theater screenings, using social media and other channels to market the film directly to audiences.

Whichever method you choose, distribution is essential in getting your film seen by the world.

people watching an independent movie

Commonly Asked Questions About Making an Independent Film

How much does it cost to make an independent film?

Making an independent movie can range from a few hundred to millions of dollars, depending on factors such as the size and scope of the project, filming locations, set pieces, and special effects. Post-production work like editing and sound design can add up quickly. However, you can also make an indie movie with your iPhone and free software these days.

How do independent films get made?

Creating an independent movie takes a lot of hard work and dedication. First, the filmmakers must come up with an idea for a movie that they are passionate about. Then, they have to raise the money to finance the project. This can be done through various methods, including crowdfunding, grants, and private investors. Once the money is raised, the filmmakers must assemble a crew and cast to bring their vision to life. This process can be challenging, as independent films often have limited budgets. However, with careful planning, hard work, and the right filmmaking tools, it is possible to make an independent film that is both artistically successful and commercially viable.

Are independent films profitable?

It depends. While some independent films do turn a profit, many others do not. It all comes down to the film’s budget and distribution plan. A low-budget film that is distributed through word-of-mouth or online channels may not make a lot of money. However, it can still be considered successful if it reaches its target audience and manages to cover the production costs.

What makes a film an indie film?

There is no one answer to the question of what makes a film an indie film. However, certain elements are often associated with indie films. For example, indie films often have small budgets, are independently financed, and/or created outside the various film union systems. They also tend to be more experimental in terms of storytelling and visual style.

Additionally, indie films often focus on personal or niche stories rather than big-budget blockbusters. As a result, indie films often have a more intimate feel than mainstream films. Ultimately, its unique approach to filmmaking makes a film an indie film.

Can you create a movie by yourself?

It is possible to create a movie by yourself, but it will be a lot of work. You will need to come up with a story, write a script, find locations and actors, handle the logistics of filming, and do the post-production editing. However, if you are organized and have a clear vision for your project, you can create a movie by yourself. The key is to break the process into manageable steps and delegate responsibility where possible.

For example, you may want to hire a producer to help with the logistics of filming, or you could ask friends and family to help with the editing process. By taking advantage of the skills and resources of those around you, you can make your dream of creating a movie a reality.

Why are indie movies better?

There’s something special about indie movies that you can’t find in big-budget blockbusters. Indie films are usually made with a lot of heart and soul, and you can feel the filmmakers’ passion in every frame. They are also often more original and creative than mainstream fare, taking risks that Hollywood studios wouldn’t dare to touch. And because they’re usually independently financed, they don’t have to answer to anyone but themselves, allowing them to tell the stories they want to tell.

As a result, indie movies tend to be more personal and intimate than big Hollywood productions, and they often end up resonating with viewers on a deeper level. Finally, since indie movies are typically made by relatively unknown directors, they provide an opportunity to discover new and exciting talent. For all of these reasons, indie movies are sometimes better than blockbusters!

Shallow Focus Photography of Person Holding Silver Iphone 6s

Is indie movie a genre?

While some may argue that indie movie is not a genre, certain elements are common to many independent films. In general, indie movies tend to be lower-budget affairs with a smaller scale and more personal stories than their studio counterparts. They often rely on strong performances from a relatively unknown cast and use naturalistic settings and dialogue.

Additionally, indie movies often explore themes that are outside the mainstream, dealing with subject matter that is edgier or more experimental than what is typically seen in Hollywood films. As a result, while it may not be easy to define, there is undoubtedly a recognizable style and sensibility to indie cinema.

Why are indie films called indie?

The word “indie” is short for independent. In the film world, an indie film is a movie that is made outside of the major Hollywood studios. These films are typically funded by private investors or through crowdfunding, and they often have less of a marketing budget and distribution than studio films. As a result, indie films tend to be more personal and experimental, and they often tackle subjects that are not typically covered by mainstream movies.

The term “indie” can also be used to describe music, books, fashion, and other art forms produced outside the mainstream. In many cases, the term refers to something alternative or counter-cultural. For example, an indie band might be an unsigned group that makes music that is outside of the mainstream. Similarly, an indie author might be a self-published writer who does not follow traditional publishing routes. Ultimately, the term “indie” can be used to describe any creative work produced outside the mainstream.

What are the characteristics of indie films?

Indie films are movies produced outside the major Hollywood studio system of professional filmmakers. Indie films are known for their quirky characters, offbeat plots, and innovative storytelling. They are typically made with lower budgets and have more personal or experimental stories. Indie films often explore topics that are not typically covered in mainstream cinema, such as independent thought, counterculture, and social issues.

Because they are not beholden to the studio system, indie filmmakers have more creative freedom to tell the stories they want to tell. As a result, indie films often have a more unique visual style than blockbuster movies. They also tend to take more risks in terms of story and form. For all of these reasons, indie films are a vital part of the film world.

How can I improve the quality and look of my films?

If you’re looking for a way to improve the quality and look of your films, AI video upscaling software can be a helpful tool. This type of software uses artificial intelligence to enhance the resolution of videos, resulting in a more detailed and lifelike image. In addition, AI video upscaling software can also improve the color and contrast of a video, making it more vibrant and visually appealing. Although several different AI video upscaling software programs are available, they all share the same fundamental goal of providing users with a better-quality video experience. Whether you’re a professional filmmaker or a casual user, AI video upscaling software can help you take your films to the next level.

Wrap-Up: How to Make an Independent Film

So, if you’re passionate about film and are ready to start making your own movies, heed these tips to help make the process as smooth and successful as possible.

With a bit of hard work and perseverance, you’ll be on your way to creating something truly remarkable. Happy filming!

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