There’s no denying that commercialized films always capture the attention of the masses. After all, they have successful funding and promotion systems. However, this is not a good sign for indie films, which also deserve recognition. Most indie films have the quality, but not all are given the platform to showcase what they’re capable of. 

Indie films should get a high level of recognition. But for indie films to thrive, support should start with the viewing public. Everyone should have access to indie films, and learn to tell them apart from mainstream films. Let’s dive deeper and understand the roots of it all. What are indie films, and why are they called ‘independent’? 

The ‘Independence’ In Indie Films

The monopoly-type of reign Hollywood claims to have is over. Anyone skilled enough to use a camera, direct actors, and market a product from scratch can produce a film. Talents and skills that don’t need ‘show money’ to be showcased gave way to independent cinema. 

Movie, Reel, Projector, Film, Cinema, Entertainment

If we’re going to take a look at the surface, indie films are called as such because they are produced outside major movie production houses. Meaning, no giant company is supporting the directors, actors, and film crew with money, equipment, or other resources. However, there’s no clear historical definition that describes the ‘independence’ of these films. Funding is a huge factor, but only one of many. Nevertheless, as long as a film is outside the influence of mainstream media, it’s independent in its own right. 

Defining Characteristics Of Indie Films

Since no one definition can describe the independence of an indie film, the audience can separate an indie film from commercialized films by its defining characteristics. According to a study conducted by a researcher at Pforzheimer Honors College, the best way to identify indie films is to categorize them.

“The term on the surface may just be an abbreviation for the word independent, but today it connotes much more. In particular, it brings to mind certain characteristics in which audiences expect to see from all films labeled “independent”. Today, because it is hard to distinguish the finances of a film or by what means it was produced, categorizing independent films is the best way to identify them.” (Independent, Mainstream and In Between: How and Why Indie Films Have Become Their Own Genre, Pforzheimer Honors College)


As mentioned before, one of the determining factors in identifying indie films is its source of funds. Indies are usually considered as low-budget films but not because of the quality. Indie films are low-budget because of the equipment, locations, and other resources used while the film is in the works.

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Actos and directors have more freedom in independent films, so they can tap into more sensitive, provoking, and unconventional themes. More often than not, indie films aim to challenge societal norms.

Thought, Idea, Innovation, Imagination, Inspiration


Indie directors usually avoid film techniques commonly used in mainstream media. After all, they need to show a distinguishing factor in the movie itself. Some common techniques used in indie films are off-centered frames, black and white cinematography, continuity editing, and cohesive color palettes. 

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