Read (past tense) an interesting piece by Ted Hope at Filmmaker Magazine: "The Death of the Indie Film". The article raises some great questions about the state of the industry and its future.
Is there a place to showcase artistic content anymore? Of course to some extent everyone is both artist and art, but here I am thinking of what would be labeled as creative mediums. Certainly books have this luxury if for no other reason than, discounting the financial hardships and manic mood swings a writer may endure, there is no cost to write. Design as well. A broad term as it should be. Whether Dean Kamen's Segway, Paul Henningsen's fixtures, Steve Jobs' gadgets, Max Miedinger's typography, or a small company like Hard Graft, design is in everything, and there is room and a platform to produce anything that will be appreciated by some audience somewhere at some level. Look around you at anytime at everything and it was a product of Design. Sometimes aesthetic, sometimes practical, sometimes both. Music is tougher. The artist can produce something of decent quality for a small expense. Getting that work distributed is a different story. Maybe you see this as the same as the book example, but we'll agree to nothing and just disagree. Then there's film. Well, not even film anymore right? That's simply a nostalgic misnomer. No matter what you call it, the reality is it's expensive and hard to shoot even a "low budget Indie film". More or less, a writer, designer, and musician (among many others of course) are in sole control of what they output. If this is consumed or not is a different story. A filmmaker, however, has to employ a wide range of people with a variety of disciplines including the writer, producer, director, cinematographer, editor, talent, gaffer, electrician, sound, make-up, and on and on and on and on and on...not to mention the extensive logistical considerations. Somebody has to pay significant money to even get the film project to the point where it can be judged by the consumer or critic. And no, shooting yourself pissing on a fire with your iDevice and uploading to YouTube does not count.
I have numerous friends who are still paying off debt incurred on their senior projects from Film School. Projects that were never viewed outside of those hollow, class auditoriums. Even past "indie" success stories that led to international accolades like Jim Jarmusch's, one of my favorite directors, 1984 film "Stranger Than Paradise" cost around $100k and four years to get done. It was difficult back then, but now even more so to get these monies, especially in these United States. Jarmusch is currently raising funds via Kickstarter.com for new projects (although I do not know if this is by choice or necessity).
Is there a market for these types of films? I have to believe yes. The problem is it takes more than time to produce the final product. When standard formulas, remakes, and reality drivel are producing the income they are, less and less companies are willing to take that risk.