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Independent Films vs Mainstream Films

Independent Films vs Mainstream Films

The two opposite sides of the film industry in terms of making films are independent films and mainstream films. There is a vast difference between the two intentions of making films but there are also a few similarities. 

Independent films, usually mean making a film outside the leading film industry and not attaching any big names to it for gaining recognition. Independent filmmakers make films sheerly out of love and passion for films. Independent films happen to be less prevalent in society and are produced by the emerging filmmakers themselves. Despite no big connections attached to the films independent filmmakers still dream of getting the same platform to showcase their stories through frames.

Mainstream films are as literal as they sound. The films are made by big production houses and have a lot of support from various fields and huge funding regardless. They usually have famous actors starring in it, well thought strategy plans to promote it properly to the audience before releasing the film in the theatres.

Pointing down a few differences between independent films and mainstream films below:

  1. Budget: It comes very organically to anyone’s mind that independent films are made on a very low budget and filmmakers often try to avail resources and gather external funding when possible. Multiple small production houses come forward to help an independent film with funding to produce the film and even offer professional expertise. A lot of film institutes are seen to be encouraging film producers who give them a bit of exposure and the film that is being produced. Many independent filmmakers may choose crowdfunding as well to suffice the budget for making a film. 

Mainstream films are high-budget films where the budget may even cross a million dollars at times. There are multiple sections included in the film like pre-production, production, and post-production where a lot of money to spent making the film for the theatres. Even marketing is a vital part of high-budget commercial films where eminent stars are cast to give the film an even bigger boost.

  1. Distribution:

Independent films very obviously do not get the same kind of release in big theatres or box office across the nation. However, independent films mainly enter into regional and national film festivals to get showcased to the audience and a greater reach. Although there are a handful of movie theatres that welcome independent films to be screened, they are still comparatively on a lower scale because the fans and audiences aware of independent films are very few and less interested as there might be faces in the movies the audience is unfamiliar and unaware of the creating revenue as well.

Mainstream films don’t usually face any trouble in terms of distribution as they are picked up by cinema theatres and big production houses to get promoted. They are distributed nationwide with a lot of pre-release marketing via famous actors cast in it and talked about it on social media mainly, these films are usually self-sufficient in distribution. There are dedicated teams too who approach cinema theatres to screen the particular film and sometimes the main contribution is dragged from the fandom of the actor who is in the film.

  1. Process of Filmmaking:

In independent films, there are no humungous sets designed or being made for days or months or traveling into different countries to shoot a few scenes. The independent filmmakers mainly try to film the entire film in very few local locations which can help it to fit in the budget. The actors and minimal crew working in the film are usually friends and from known references who do not charge a lot or even work for free in most cases. 

Mainstream movie directors have the luxury of getting detailed sets made just for the film, traveling around the globe, and finding the exact locations for several shots that they require. They intend to find the least expensive alternative that helps them film a shot in case any alternative is needed at the last minute.

  1. Marketing: 

Most of independent films are not digitally marketed or promoted on a vast scale but mainly through film festivals, word of mouth, reviews, and critics. There might be a few cases if an independent happens to have a little bit of extra funding it is utilized in marketing but nothing compared to the million-dollar marketed movies.

Mainstream films have a separate budget kept aside for promoting the film on a huge scale through billboards, YouTube commercials, different social media platforms, collaborations with different brands, and any other possible ways to make people aware of the film and hype it up.


  1. List of Films:

Most independent filmmakers work hard to provide their audience with a great cinematic experience. These films repeatedly appear at the top of most international film festivals. Here is a quick look at some of the best independent films in India.– Manto, Maa, Tungrus, Daas Dev. Rajma Chawal, Bhor: Dawn, Buddha.mov, Love, Sonia, Unreserved, Village Rockstars.

The mainstream movie list is vast and may include most of your favourite movies: Sholay, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, 3 Idiots, Hum Aapke Hai, Koun..!, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, PK, Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, Dangal, Dil To Pagal Hai, Rangeela, Dil Chahta Hai, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India.

While the main difference between independent films and mainstream films is the eye-catching gap in terms of budget both are popular worldwide. There’s a lot of scope for independent films nowadays and people are more aware and looking to watch stories being told by independent filmmakers which stay unheard and lost amidst the big box office hits. 

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