Thanks in large part to the meteoric rise of the “Great Zon” otherwise known as Amazon, indie publishing and indie authors have become “mainstream” and are slowly shedding their cloak of alleged “illegitimacy” as the bastard children of the publishing world. Some in the publishing business have viewed this rise with awe, others with growing resignation while still others wonder where this whole “indie author” phenomenon came from. Admittedly, while the “indie author” concept may be relatively new, the “indie concept” in itself is not.
Nowhere has the “indie concept” been more prevalent than in film production. The online reference source Wikipedia.org describes an “independent film” or “indie prod” as it’s known in the business, as a feature film that’s produced mostly or completely outside of the major film studio system. They’re usually distinguishable by their style and content and in the way in which the filmmakers’ personal artistic vision is depicted.Indie prods are also usually made on a modest budget and through limited release and are often screened at local, national or international film festivals before distribution. Most do not have big box office movie stars although in recent years, several major motion picture movie stars like John Travolta have waived their usual salaries in order to appear in an indie film (think Pulp Fiction). Many indie films that have been made on a relative shoestring budget and have gone on to achieve success both critically and in box office dollars are:Billy Elliot (2000), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), The King’s Speech (2010), Lost in Translation (2003), The Full Monty (1997), Super Size Me (2004), Friday the 13th (1980), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), June (2007), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002).
And let’s not forget the music biz. The “indie concept” has been steadily infiltrating the ranks of the music industry as well. Scores of talented young artists who haven’t been lucky enough to win a coveted talent show like American Idol or The Voice have been financing their own EPs and then independently distributing them to anyone who’ll play them. At this year’s Grammy Awards, the winners of the coveted Best New Artist category was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Macklemore recorded an EP entitled Open Your Eyes in 2000 under the name Professor Macklemore, which he distributed himself and after 13 years of blood, sweat, tears and playing forgettable gigs, he’s finally hit the big time. However, there are scores of other young unknown Macklemores out there in the wings who are independently financing and distributing their music in the hopes of being discovered and landing their big break.
Whatever the field, whether it be publishing, film or music, the indie authors, films and musical artists are fighting for legitimacy and recognition amid an “indie concept” that is slowly becoming “mainstream”. And if anything is to be taken away from the concept of “indie”, it’s the following:
1.Originality is the cornerstone of success.
2.Word of mouth is the most powerful PR tool.
3.Overnight success takes years of blood, sweat and tears.
4.Tenacity pays off.