What Did the 2010s Bring Indie Filmmakers?

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Happy New Year to you…and Happy New Decade! I decided to leave this post until after New Year’s so it didn’t get lost in the sea of lists that tend to come out at the end of each decade.

For me, the 2010s hold a particularly important place in my heart, because not only was it the decade I began my career in the film industry, it was also the decade I launched Film Sprites PR. Throughout the 2010s I kept a close eye on what was happening in the film industry, and how things were changing. The indie filmmaking landscape I was welcomed into in the 2010s is a genuinely remarkable one: there have been technologies and changes that have paved the way for filmmakers to create on their own terms, often cutting out ‘the middle man’. What a decade to work in indie film!

Check out some of the changes in our society (and the industry) which changed the way filmmakers can fund, create, promote and distribute their films:

Crowdfunding Changes the Film Funding Landscape

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Before I founded Sprites, I started my career by helping to publicize crowdfunding campaigns for films. Over the years, I have continued to do so, as well as working at Boosted, the crowdfunding platform of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. Who knew that this wonderful world of funding opportunity would exist in the 2010s? Crowdfunding has given filmmakers the opportunity to secure funding in a timely fashion, while also helping to build an audience for their films. While there are various other funding opportunities for filmmakers available, crowdfunding has been a successful way for filmmakers to secure their finance, whether in pre-production, post-production, or to pay for things like trips to festivals or post-production colour grading and/or ADR. Well-known successfully crowdfunded films include Lazer Team by Rooster Teeth, The Veronica Mars Movie Project, and Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here.

Crowdsourcing of Cinema Screenings Becomes a Reality

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Similar to crowdfunding, crowdsourcing became a great option for filmmakers when it came to various aspects of filmmaking. One particular crowdsourcing option that materialized in the 2010s was the crowdsourcing of cinema screenings of films.

Platforms like Tugg meant filmmakers could screen their films at selected cinemas provided the required amount of tickets were sold. This is a great way for filmmakers to provide the big screen experience. It’s a system which has proven particularly successful for niche films; like films with environmental themes. Demand.Film also provides a selection of films which can be screened, including films from Australia and New Zealand and films with niche audiences. This is particularly beneficial for community groups or interest groups who want to bring a film to the big screen.

Social Media Gets Serious

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Social media started to sprout in the late 2000s. Remember Tom from MySpace? In the 2010s social media platforms exploded onto the scene, giving us many ways to share our daily happenings and memes. And as social media began to grow, so too did the opportunities for filmmakers to share their message and grow an audience for their films or webseries. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been joined by the likes of TikTok and Snapchat to provide many options for spreading your message. Before the advent of social media, radio, print and television were primarily the ways of gaining awareness for your filmmaking and growing your audience. Now you can connect with your audience (and potential audience) right through their smartphone.

Streaming Services Rule Screens

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Hop onto your Facebook feed and I can guarantee you’ll see at least one of your friends talking about something they watched via a streaming service. Netflix, which was founded in 1997, expanded into offering streaming services, as did other platforms like Prime Video. The new world of streaming offers filmmakers another route for distribution of their films. Filmmakers can also offer downloads or streaming of their films via their own website. Gone are the days when hopes hung on a cinematic release; now indie filmmakers can reach audiences in their own homes and open them to a world of new ideas and concepts far beyond the traditional Hollywood blockbuster.

What will the 2020s offer? Only time can tell…