The Code of the Entrepreneurial Indie Filmmaker

Today on Filmmaker Freedom, a manifesto to guide your career as an indie filmmaker.

I'm going to share a set of useful ideas that will help you make the films you care about, build an audience, market yourself effectively, and earn a good living doing what you love.

Basically, if you’re fed up with “business as usual” in the indie film biz, the ideas you’re about to learn will help you break free and carve your own path as a filmmaker.

Sound good? Here’s the episode:.


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A Written Version of the Code

What I'm about to share is a list of super important ideas. In fact, it's basically a carefully constructed set of guidelines for thriving as an entrepreneurial indie filmmaker.

Now, I'll warn you right up front that this isn't meant to teach you everything.

Each one of these points can be expanded, and they will be throughout the run of this show. So if you listen to this and it leaves you wanting more detail, just hang in there!

But if you're feeling impatient, I'd recommend joining Freedom Fighters, because it's the only community around full of people who live and work by the code, where you can surround yourselves with people doing this stuff for real. To find out more about that and apply to join our ranks, go to

Alright, with that out of the way, here, point by point, is The Filmpreneur Code.

  • The filmpreneur knows exactly what kind of life she wants to live, and takes action every day to move towards that life.

  • The filmpreneur doesn't try to compete with Hollywood. He knows it's a fool's errand.

  • The filmpreneur serves a niche audience. She understands that by trying to serve everybody, you end up serving nobody. So she niches down and focuses on a core group of likeminded people.

  • The filmpreneur understands that if you serve your audience well, money will come. If the money's not coming, you're either just starting out, or you need to find a way to better serve your audience.

  • The filmpreneur is still an artist at heart. Forever and always.

  • The filmpreneur loves the art of business just as much as she loves making films. She's learned that at its core, running a business is about finding creative and generous ways to serve people.

  • The filmpreneur has a strong set of core values, and uses those values to make important decisions about their films and their business.

  • The filmpreneur keeps an eye on the data, but trusts their gut.

  • The filmpreneur practices self-awareness, because he understands that self-knowledge is the key to understanding others. And he knows that understanding others is the key to being a successful artist and businessperson.

  • The filmpreneur understands the psychology of why audiences watch niche movies, and why they consume content online. She uses that understanding to her advantage, both in her films and business.

  • The filmpreneur knows how to put himself in the mind of his audience. He's genuinely empathetic towards them, because in truth, he's one of them.

  • The filmpreneur embraces risk and uncertainty.

  • Because of this embrace of risk, the filmpreneur feels fear and unease constantly, but knows the greatest rewards come to those who push through to the other side.

  • The filmpreneur doesn't care about the "traditional way" of doing things. In fact, the filmpreneur understands that the traditional way often leads to mediocrity.

  • The filmpreneur is allergic to mediocrity.

  • The filmpreneur doesn't play it safe to avoid failure. Because to avoid failure is to avoid risk. And to avoid risk is to succumb to mediocrity.

  • When the filmpreneur fails, he sees it as a useful piece of data. He's now learned another way not to accomplish his goals, thus narrowing his focus onto the things that will work.

  • The filmpreneur is a craftsman. Not only in his films, but in his business. He takes the time to learn the fundamentals and practice them for as long as it takes to be great.

  • The filmpreneur is a student for life. She knows the second she stops learning is the second she starts becoming irrelevant in the modern economy. The world is changing fast, and she keeps pace.

  • The filmpreneur pays attention to trends, but isn't a slave to them. Instead, she relies on timeless fundamentals, and evolves those fundamentals over time to meet the needs of her audience.

  • The filmpreneur seeks out and works with other filmpreneurs. He understands that we're capable of so much more when we work together.

  • The filmpreneur makes art that stands the test of time.

  • The filmpreneur does everything in her power to create and own valuable intellectual property.

  • The filmpreneur creates systems to continually profit from that intellectual property, even if it's years old. He understands that IP can grow even more valuable with age, so he promotes all of his old films even as he's making new ones.

  • The filmpreneur builds communities, both online and offline.

  • The filmpreneur diversifies his income.

  • The filmpreneur doesn't just make films. She finds tangential business opportunities that help her serve her audience better.

  • The filmpreneur relentlessly documents the process of making films. He knows it's great content for his audience, and it helps him practice self-awareness, be more intentional, and hone his craft.

  • The filmpreneur doesn’t wait around for funding, or resources, or anything. She's relentlessly resourceful, and when there seems to be no way forward, she makes a way through sheer force of will.

  • The filmpreneur knows that lacking resources can be an advantage. Nothing breeds creativity like constraints.

  • The filmpreneur realizes that if he's looking for funding, but doesn't get it, he hasn't succeeded in making himself "fundable." So he gets back to work.

  • The filmpreneur understands that if she doesn’t take responsibility for all aspects of her business, she won't be successful in the long term.

  • In fact, the filmpreneur takes responsibility for everything in their life. From health to relationships to business. It's all a piece of a much larger puzzle.

  • The filmpreneur makes no excuses.

  • The filmpreneur defaults to action in the face of adversity. And he knows there will be adversity at every step along the way.

  • The filmpreneur isn't interested in awards, glamour, or anything of that nature.

  • The filmpreneur loves the work itself. Financial reward is a byproduct of that love.

  • The filmpreneur succeeds in a world where other filmmakers are waiting around to be chosen.

And last on the list, but certainly not least.

  • The filmpreneur lives a good, prosperous life, doing what she loves, and being of service to others. Because in the end, that's what matters.

That my friends, is The Filmpreneur Code.

My promise to you is that if you follow these ideas, implement them into your business, and live by them, you will be rewarded with a creative career unlike anything you can imagine right now.

You'll be able to support yourself and your family by making the films you care most about. And you'll be able to cultivate an audience and community around your work that will be both rewarding and profitable.

Don't get me wrong. It's incredibly hard work, and it won't happen overnight. Hell, I wish I could tell you it'd take six months or a year, but you probably won't get to the point of total self-sufficiency for 5-10 years. Just being honest.

But then again, this has always been about playing the long game.

So if you know deep in your bones that this is the life you want for yourself, now you have the roadmap to get there. Good luck fellow traveler, and godspeed.

If you’re truly invested in putting these ideas to use, I’d recommend joining Freedom Fighters, my private community for entrepreneurial indie filmmakers.

It’s not another spammy facebook group or noisy forum. It’s an online oasis just for people like us. A place of sanity and respect, where we try our best to support one another in our respective journeys.

So if you’re interested in becoming a member, here’s where you can get the full scoop and apply (don’t worry, it’s totally free).

Hoping to see you inside.

-Rob Hardy

Lastly, if you enjoy thoughtful content like this, you'll love my Sunday newsletter, Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. 

Each week, I share my latest writing and podcasts, as well as a few hand-picked stories from around the web, a short film I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

If you’re an ambitious indie filmmaker, it’s an email you’ll actually look forward to each week. Pinky promise :)