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What Are The Common Themes Found In Indie Film?

What Are The Common Themes Found In Indie Film?

Themes resonate with communities. Communities congregate around common themes. Communities endure whereas films perish at a certain point in time. Community interest can revive forgotten works. Many different communities are vested in similar themes. Common interests between creators, financiers, and promotional entities can exist within the themes of work.

Could new sponsorship opportunities for ambitious work exist within the common interest of common themes?

If we identify common themes found in indie film, and then identify what films have those very themes, perhaps the other entities that are vested in the themes can help support those works.

Why don’t we start with the common themes… What are the common themes found currently in Indie Film? I tweeted this question out a couple weeks back and was a bit disheartened by the limited amount of comments it generated. Nonetheless I received a few suggestions to add to my list (so thanks for that). Perhaps you can add to this now.

1. Triumph over adversity; you can do it;
2. Family is where you find it;
3. Difference is universal;
4. Tolerance/Forgiveness will teach us all; aka Open your heart;
5. Be yourself;
6. Take action; move on; just do it; don’t sit on the fence; make a tough choice; don’t wait until tomorrow.
7. Don’t settle; Raise the bar; Aim higher; dream the dream;
8. Build it and they will come; dream the dream;
9. Life is hard but our family & friends get us through it;
10. Don’t mess with mother nature. (via
11. ‎”There’s hope, but it’s not where you think it is.” (via Mindi White)
12. “Love Hurts” (via @flixfixer). Love saves. Love tranfsorms.
13. “Revenge is all-consuming” (via @flixfixer)
14. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” (via @flixfixer)

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To play devil's advocate here is a list of themes you dont see 99% of the time but should.
1) war,
2) ghosts (real and/or symbolic),
3) family isnt where you find it
5) decay/postindustrial/end of the world
6) Rural USA
7) young/middle aged/old–anything not twentysomething
8) crime/noir
9) failure
10) isolation/solitary/single character driven stories
11) westerns
12) silent
13) historical/futuristic
14) detective
15) image driven
16) faustian/carnival/magic

Honestly, having the same themes is so boring–maybe there is sponsorship and $ opportunities in rare themes instead?

ekim namwen

david vs. goliath

Geoff King

A good question, this. But many of the themes in that list seem very similar to those found in Hollywood films. Would be interesting to try to differentiate the two – i.e. suggest which are more specific to indie. Maybe numbers 3 and 4, for example, would seem more indie, although I can imagine even these also being given a Hollywood spin in some cases. Maybe the difference is more likely to be one of how these are treated rather than the bare bones of the themes themselves.


A missing theme is light-hearted fun. Most Indies
are heavy as mud.

Jason Kohl

The triumph of interpersonal relationships over institutional ones.

We create our own traps.

Financial goals often corrupt personal ones.

The power of organizations.

We see what we want to; not always what’s actually there.

Jason @ Filmmaking Stuff

I think it’s fine to focus on these themes – but few filmmakers have the marketing budget to reach a “general” audience.

Taking this a step further, I’d focus on the target market first – then fit one of these themes into a story.



tell it to hilary swank.

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