Should We Accept That Indie Film Is Now A Hobby Culture?

An interesting read on the Indie Film Culture from the perspective of Ted. Any thoughts?



I don’t intend to get down on hobbies here; I love building model rockets with my son, but I don’t harbor any fantasies about earning a living from doing it (well, I do have a plan for a BowlOfNoses Summer Camp, but…). Thing is, there once was a time when all my friends earned a living making and sharing independent features. It didn’t feel like a hobby then, but now it does. I wonder if anyone still earns a consistent living making indie films?

Okay, the sales markets of Sundance & Toronto have increased my hopes that the economic situation for filmmakers will improve and, yes, “earning a living” is a relative phrase. True, many still are paying most of their bills from working in the film biz, but I suspect that either it is at a level 50% lower than it was three years ago, or else the company that pays them is earning substantially less than they were years back and just hasn’t passed the losses on to their employees beyond staff reductions. Yes, there are still some folks who hit a vein and get a windfall, but don’t mistake that good fortune as a career. I have seen highs and lows, but I don’t see consistency any more.

It’s not all doom mind you. Some people are adapting well to the current situation, working on lower budgets, and creating a variety of forms — but the earnings are at a much different level. The need to find ways to subsidize one’s creative passions has become more urgent than ever before. Speaking fees and consultancy gigs have become a necessary part of my balance sheet. Academia is growing more appealing by the day.

People used to toss off that Indie Film was the province of the rich or the young, as a way of saying that there was no long term survival path, but that was said most frequently by those that somehow had managed to embed themselves in the process — and thus contradicting their statement by their very existence. Those days are gone though. Indie film is only a viable stopover station and then only for the young and the rich. I am at a loss of how someone can earn enough to live in NYC making the kind of movies I did for the last two decades. It requires something completely different. [...]

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