- $0 - $100,000 budget TOTAL for both production & distribution
(that $100K is for production & the first 6 months - 1 year of distribution related expenses, after that, less than $100K a year in distribution & related expenses could work as a good dividing line for what's indie and what's not)
(self-distribution by the filmmaker is ALWAYS more indie than selling the distribution rights and work to another entity)
- not made/produced by a Hollywood studio, or a TV network, or cable, etc (but let's say a large company - from entertainment world or otherwise - could have a 40% or less interest in the project - that much invested in the project $s wise, but all final production & distribution decisions resting w/ the filmmaker/director
- as long as the above two criteria are met, the films could star known actors (if they wish to work at the above mentioned budget level, etc) and the films could still be considered indie
(however, films with unknown actors are a bigger gamble, a greater risk, and are thus more indie)
- indie film is more art or art/entertainment than other movies - entertainment products created for profit
- a single artist (the director) or a few artists (screenwriter, director, cinematographer, editor, an actor, etc) are the main creative and business driving force behind an indie film. Other films - Hollywood, indiewood, etc are primarily driven by producers, exec producers, distributors, agents, etc
- and it's totally cool to make a $0 budget indie film and self-distribute it on Vimeo or make a $500 million budget Hollywood film and distribute it to 3,000 movie theaters - it's all good, it's all filmmaking & distribution. it's up to each artist/filmmaker to decide what kind of story they want to tell, what kind of resources are necessary and what kind of distribution and profit concerns may be best for the project.
- all that said, indie films are still better/more interesting/more praise worthy projects (not considering what's on the screen) than Hollywood, indiewood, etc films because they are more of an adventure, more of a gamble/more risky, and are more works of art than business enterprises :)
-- and a film that's both indie and is creatively excellent (what's on the screen being awesome) - that's a winner!
(specially if a self-distributing filmmaker can find a way to make their indie project profitable, and or get it out to a lot of people or a significant % of the target audience - in that case, a double or triple win!)
[--- good luck to all indie & other filmmakers in this new year in getting awesome work done & out!]