Baraheni: Independent Filmmaking Will Survive

Arsalan Baraheni


Covid-19 has had an enormous and devastating impact on a film industry that was already in turmoil and many independent filmmakers were already struggling with raising funds and shooting their feature films and getting distribution. The industry was filled with thousands of films waiting to break in by undiscovered talents who were not stars.


The film industry expanded enormously throughout the past century and many kept graduating every year from film schools with dreams of becoming a filmmaker. But the industry simply became overpopulated with talents and projects that never got the chance to find an audience because of distribution. These are the original voices from the society as indie filmmakers who were never heard or discovered and were undermined and ignored by the industry and the masses because indie films rarely got the right distribution.


Therefore, the chances of succeeding for independent feature filmmakers became very slim but many kept trying project after project with the hopes of finding distribution but many indie films do not get the right distribution, they won't see a penny of profit and the project will go down in the closet and lose. These low budget features piled up more debt for the artist who had to go through lots of training and studies in film school with a very expensive degree as well.

Tarantino says he didn't go to film school but he went to films. This was the other avenue for some and it meant they studied filmmaking on their own and started making indie films. Most wanted to make cinematic feature films in either fiction or documentary. They started to make short films and gradually built their career toward finding the right producer or gathering funds independently for their feature projects. This is the industry that was set up by the large studios in a way that was very difficult to break into and garner attention for indie films. The filmmaker knew how to make a film and was focused on the creative aspects but never learnt much about distributing an indie film.


Therefore, even if a film was made after a year or two, the indie artist would struggle with distribution and eventually lose hope even if a project had lots of commercial potential. First they had to take their films to important festival such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance and Toronto but the chances of getting a premier was very slim since your film is sitting at the hands of programmers with thousands of films from all over the world. And the smaller film festivals might bring some attention to the project but it offered very little in finding distribution.


The masses of the people in the world are fascinated with cinema and while many have stopped reading books, all people in the world watch movies and the affects of media can't be denied on politics, culture, society and humanity as a whole. Generations after generations were born in the past century with the hopes of becoming stars. Many wanted to be directors, actors and lots of film schools and acting schools were created with many artists graduating every year with lots of debt and very little chances of success in breaking into the film industry. The film industry had expanded into the most influential aspect of human life but the problem was that a few studios controlled the media with their own connections and indie filmmaking itself was always a very rebellious act in societies where art and culture is controlled by media moguls and authorities who happen to have their own ideological, political, social, cultural and commercial agenda.


The Covid-19 pandemic has recently changed the industry once again and many will be hesitant to go to cinemas for a while and many companies dealt with bankruptcy while indie companies were affected less because they were not part of the system and did not rely on the money and the union. It seems like the TV industry will be expanding and will become the greatest path of distribution to independent feature filmmakers through licensing and distributing the films through TV stations. While the path of distributing through a TV channel itself is very competitive, it seems like it might be the only path to finding an audience for your feature film and earning revenues from licensing with TV stations.


Independent filmmaking will continue its work regardless of what happens in the world since it does not rely on any system and stands on its own feet. Independent filmmaking will survive.


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© Toronto Film Mag I 2020