A possible 100% D.I.Y./indie filmmaking career path model; for people who are interested in that kind of thing
2. Buy the gear you need, learn to use it well, take good care of it. Most likely the essential tools are: at least a 3 chip DV camera (1 chip will do if there is no other option) & accessories, lights, sound gear (boom mic, lavs, boom poles, maybe a mixer) & accessories, Final Cut Pro or Express & a Mac to run it on, & all kinds of other post-production programs that you might want to play with. You can always rent or barrow the gear for various projects, but owning it will be cool - if you feel like shooting something one day, you'll have all the gear you need.
3. Make the movie. Tons of info. out there on how this step is to be accomplished. And it can be done for pretty cheap now, under $3K or less in some cases.
4. If you don't feel like submitting to festivals but still want to screen your movie to an audience & get some press, set up screenings. Here's a page on one option for screenings. The key to success with screenings is A TON OF PUBLICITY (& of course having a movie that a lot of people are interested in seeing).
5. If you don't want to or don't feel like you need to get reviews for your movie, just create a great ad campaign; posters, trailers, etc. Get it up on the web, get it out to the world, create interest. But generally it would be a good idea to have someone other than yourself comment on the awesomeness of your movie.
6. Create DVDs for sale. Have them at screenings. Advertise them & promote them whenever & wherever you can. If the 1000 True Fans theory/approach is right, after a while you should be able to make some money from your movie if there is an audience for it (meaning the movie is or sounds interesting enough for people to want to pay for it/own it on DVD). Also make merchandise like t-shirts to sell, for extra revenue. And have a Pay Pal donate button on your sites for all those people who may have seen the movie for free & liked it & want to support your work. Also look for grants. Maybe you might also find some revenue generating advertising opportunities from some local businesses (they get to advertise their business at your screenings, promo material, etc., for a fee). And get your DVD into stores. There is a whole lot of info. on self-distribution out there on the web, read it, see what works for you.
7. And once you are making enough money from your DVDs (or some other current or future method of generating revenue from the movies - web, direct laser beams to the brain, etc.), you can quit your day job. Unless you really like your day job.
8. Repeat, make more movies, release them, make more money (& of course save & invest the $s - make it grow; ya might need it later).
So there, a quick overview of key steps to take if you want to make & release a movie with as little outside/industry interference as possible. And you can mix this approach with some elements of traditional indie film production, marketing & distribution (maybe a couple of investors, maybe a couple of friendly festivals, maybe selling TV rights to a cable channel, etc.) if you feel that it is worth the work.
This is of course only a quick overview, to simply show that it is possible & not even that difficult anymore to make & release indie movies, and each step listed above needs a lot of preparation in order to execute properly - luckily a lot of the info. you need is available for free on the web or in books in libraries or for not too much money in books in bookstores. Study up & get it done :)