This article compares a few differences between independent film and televison productions versus the Studo projects.
This article is for the decision maker in film production, usually known as the producer.
The Independent film or Television project usually requires just the active participants that are directly involved in the production, while the Studio production usually requires approval by Studio Executives that handle many productions and make decisions, not on artistic visions, but usually on return on the studio dollars or as a "favor" to friends of the studio. Decisions for Independent projects are usually made very quickly while Studios take their time because no one wants to make that "You-never-work-in-this -town-again" mistake, plus it usually takes the approval of several executives before they can fit a project in.
Studios have a lot of money and access to more of everything (crews, talent, equipment, markets, advertising, and distribution), while independent features are finite in financing, crews, talent, equipment, advertising, post production choices, marketing, and distribution.
Independent films and television programs tend to post profit per film released while Studio releases, have a far less profit per release rate, however the Studio blockbusters, in terms of dollars, gross a greater amount per successful release. The difference in planning for independent films is usually limited in scope, but like Studio releases, follow a seven or eight planned release tier, which usually include, North American and International theatrical releases, DVD sales, Pay for View release, Video on Demand Commercial sales, Premium Cable Releases, Network Release, Cable release, and ancilliary markets (music, merchandising, stock footage). The difference in planning is in quantity and access, as independents must, because of the limited amount of money they operate under, must be very selective on the choices of markets that they can participate in.
Independent films and televison projects are far riskier to reach completion and in the in the early stages, it has been generally accepted that more than ninety percent fail to make it to final edit, however the ten percent that do reach completion, tend to make money for their investors and their production companies. It is much harder to raise sufficient funds from investors, even with the tax breaks that are offered, much harder to get product placement dollars, to obtain distibution or the best deals in distribution, and are generally limited in release and exhibition. Studios spread the risk throughout all their projects, have back up plans built into each approved project, thereby insuring a greater number of projects reach completion, package the project with big dollar brand placement, which offsets studio dollars spent, plan their distribution in pre-production, thereby have stronger marketing plans in place, thus reassuring investors that they have safer investments with the studios, and while this is true, again, it is the independent that tends to bring a profitable return back to investors more often, and studios have both, the best deals in distribution and the largest exhibition outlets to show their latest releases.
These are just a few of the differences between independent films versus studio projects. A few parting examples are; the studios do multiple projects, usually in the same time that an individual independent filmmaker, with, usually, only has a single production in the works. Thus the lack of number of projects by independents leads to less availability in the the markets and in the power to make the larger industry decisions, such as union negotitations.