Why Big-Name Actors Choose Independent Film Projects

Every now and then, you hear about a pretty marquee actor or actress taking on a role in an independent movie. It isn’t for the money — Scarlett Johansson reportedly got a $20 million paycheck for “The Avengers” sequel, and there’s no way she got anything close to that for her role in “Under The Skin” — so why do they do it?

Here are the three primary reasons:

Novelty: Lots of actors become famous for one thing. People love Jennifer Aniston in sentimental films, like “Marley and Me,” but they don’t buy her in thrillers like “Derailed.” However, it’s natural that a person might get tired of doing the same thing over and over again, even if he or she is well-compensated for it. This is why Adam Sandler took a break from high-profile, big-budget juvenile comedies to do “Punch Drunk Love.” Independent films don’t have as much to lose, so they can afford to let a name-brand actor or actress try out a new style of performance.

Talent: Some of the movie world’s most talented professionals have no interest in big-budget work. Director Atom Egoyan, for example, makes movies for less than $20 million that score with critics even if they don’t make big bucks at the box office. Thanks to his esteemed movies like “The Sweet Hereafter,” he was able to draw big names like Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried to his latest movie, “Chloe.”

Awards consideration: At some point in the past two decades or so, movie-making sort of bifurcated. Generally, movies that stood to make a lot of money became loud, expensive and dumb and movies that stand to fare well at awards shows became small and inexpensively made. So, Jennifer Lawrence can collect generous paychecks from the “X-Men” franchise, but she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, so she took on roles in independent fare like “Winter’s Bone” or “Silver Linings Playbook” (for which she was nominated for Academy Awards).

For more information about independent films, including how to fund them, feel free to check back with this blog again or contact us directly.

Thank you,

Edward Panos