17 April, 2024

How do independent short filmmakers make money?

Imagine this: You have made the first short film of your career and made it reach your audience. The cinematic creation that you always dreamed of is finally giving you recognition and some financial gains.

How amazing is that!

Making money from your short films is possible if you recognize the resources available and can utilize them strategically.

For a novice filmmaker, the entire process of creating and publishing a short film might seem hectic. But with some guidance and determination, it’s possible to turn your vision into a masterpiece.

Today’s article will provide an understanding of filmmaking, different ways to sell your film, and platforms to consider.

Let’s begin with it-

What Is A Short Film?

As the name implies, a short film is short in length or the overall duration as compared to a feature film. While a feature film may run for around 80 minutes, a short film can be finished within 5 to 40 minutes.

A short film narrates the story and reaches its conclusion much faster which is also the reason why audiences prefer watching short films.

Are you looking for the best Shortfilm Distribution Platform to make money?

6 Steps On How To Make A Short Film

For these steps, we are assuming that you already have all the equipment and software programs ready.

#1 Start With An Outline

In the first step, you plan everything and create an outline. Here, you get a rough idea about:

  • Possible people of your crew
  • The concept of your film
  • Possible shooting locations
  • The end goal

#2 Know Your Script

The second step is to have the script or storyline of your film. Viewers generally appreciate a good storyline or script with a solid moral or lesson. 

Try to prepare a storyline your audience can understand; having only your perspective involved might make it less satisfying and unclear. 

It’s also a good practice to introduce a twist in your script as it leads a short film to more success.

If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on” – Alfred Hitchcock

#3 Choose People To Work With

Now that you have a rough idea about your filmmaking plan and the script is ready, it’s time to choose the people. These people can be the actors you want to feature in your film and the crew handling additional chores.

The number of people you choose should depend on your budget and the script’s demand. Short filmmakers can always get away with 2 to 3 people and can also have themselves featured.

#4 Brainstorm The Planning

Next is the time to practice what you have planned. Go through the following steps to gain clarity:

Table Reading: Provide the script to your entire crew and let them read it together. Table reading makes it easy to find out what works and what needs to be removed to refine the script.

Storyboarding: This one helps you visualize how each scene will take place. You can use any props available and imagine them as the characters in your script to play along with the script.

Previsualization: During storyboarding, you might find out that there are a few scenes more suitable in a different sequence. In previsualization, you rearrange the shot lists, if any. Here, the budget also comes into play.

#5 Film

The next step of making your indie film is the filming itself. Here, you discuss the number of days for a particular number of shots. You film the script, feed the crew, and watch the shots before they pack up.

#6 And Edit

The next and final step involves:

  • Editing to make the shots better
  • Refining the audio
  • Making all the needed adjustments
Are you an Independent Film maker? Looking for the best platform to monetize your films

How To Make Money With Short Films?

It’s essential to know how to create a short film successfully, but it’s also important to understand how to support yourself financially using these films. Below are some of the best ideas you can consider.

Place an Advertisements

There are numerous video streaming platforms where content creators and short filmmakers make money. These platforms provide various monetization options, and running advertisements in your short films is one of these options.

You need to explore a few streaming platforms and check whether or not they provide advertisements as a means to earn. You can then upload your short film on the chosen platform and opt for online advertising.

These platforms allow you to place the advertisements at different intervals in your film. For example, you can set the ads at your videos’ beginning, middle, or end. 

The earnings using online advertising might not be significant, but it’s a good way to start. For every thousand views, you probably earn $1; such an earning method is perfect in case your film goes viral.

Product Placement

You may have seen product placements while watching feature films; they appear at the beginning of a movie. These big films receive deals from numerous giant brands and tycoons and get paid for showcasing a brand’s products or services.

Even if yours is not a feature film, you can always secure a few deals from smaller brands and companies. 

These deals might only sometimes fetch you a small sum of money, but as they say “something is better than nothing.”

Sell The Rights

Another way to earn from your short film is by selling the rights. By doing this, you hand over the rights of your short film to someone else, and in return, you receive a sum of money. 

You can contact film festivals, agents, managers, and film producers to showcase your film and know if anyone is interested in possessing the rights.

Are you looking for the best Shortfilm Distribution Platform to make money?


With crowdfunding, short filmmakers can collect funds from people worldwide and support their journey as creators. Nowadays, there are many online platforms where you can raise the need for crowdfunding.

This kind of funding benefits the creators who are short on funds for their short films and are expecting some financial support from external sources. Other than raising funds, crowdfunding also prepares you for a community of supporters you can rely on in the future.

To succeed in crowdfunding, you must present yourself authentically and excitedly in front of your audience. Tell people what you’re gonna create and tell your story in a way that captivates.

Create Branded Content

Branded content refers to content creators or filmmakers talking about a specific brand while filming the video. 

This approach to making money is prevalent mainly in YouTube videos. The video creator discusses a brand and their specific product to spread awareness. This gives a brand an edge over its competitors and helps build a more significant audience.

As a filmmaker, you can approach different brands and offer them to provide branded content. You might need to apply to different brands before you get accepted. The probability of getting selected by a brand also depends upon your subscriber count or how much traffic you receive on your channel.

While branded content restricts creativity a bit, it’s a tested way to support yourself financially.

Earn Via Royalties

There are online platforms specifically made for short films that list your films and share the profits with you.

Most of these platforms let you submit the film for free, and some might charge a small amount. It’s always advised to look at the terms and conditions of the platform you choose.

“We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.” ― Walt Disney

Submit For Film Festivals

Many film festivals take place around the year, both online and offline. By submitting your creations to these festivals, you can showcase your work and get recognition from important people in your industry.

Additionally, your film can be nominated for numerous awards, further fueling your glory. Also, these film festivals are great for networking and getting to know important people, such as film directors, producers, and managers. 

Sell To OTTs

Another method to earn from your short films is to submit them on OTT platforms. Nowadays, most people use OTTs to stream movies, web series, and short films.

You can create an account on any of the OTTs and upload your film to get streamed by your audience. Most of these platforms offer various revenue streams, such as subscriptions and rentals.

As a result, you can arrange your short film behind a paywall and earn every time someone makes a payment to watch your short film. In the case of short films, you can use the rental revenue stream, where a viewer pays to take the film on rent for a specific period.

Are you an Independent Film maker? Looking for the best platform to monetize your films

Get It Dubbed

Increase the potential of your short film by getting it dubbed in various languages. Dubbing the film would grab you a larger audience. However, you should only dub your film in numerous languages if its concept resonates with a global audience.

5 Best Online Platforms To Sell Your Short Film

Below are some streaming platforms that accept short films from creators worldwide. You can use these platforms to submit your movies as per your niche and revenue preferences.


Best for: Self Distribute & Monetize your Indie Films

Reasons to buy:

  • Numerous new-age features
  • Instant channel creation
  • Reasonable pricing

GUDSHO offers video hosting services to short filmmakers worldwide. The platform includes multiple revenue methods based on-

  • Subscriptions
  • Rentals
  • Advertisements
  • Donations

GUDSHO’s SEO assistance optimizes your films for search engines, preparing them for higher rankings. Its comprehensive CMS manages all your short film content in one place.

It also provides 360-degree analytics to inspect every aspect of your film’s performance and viewers’ engagement behavior.

The best thing is that you can start earning from day one, and setting up the channel takes a few minutes here.


On GUDSHO, you access all innovative features that make your film distribution and monetization journey easier.

  • 5+ revenue streams to monetize your short films
  • Protect Content Against Piracy
  • Advanced video CMS for complete management of your film catalog
  • Video SEO and marketing tools
  • 24/7 live video streaming
  • Unlimited storage and multiple security options

Case Study

Pelicano is an award-winning Spanish film that was launched on GUDSHO. August Strindberg’s classic play inspires the story, and it makes you delve into the life of a woman in her 60s who seeks adventure at the cost of risking her family.

The film was streamed by thousands and grabbed a significant number of ratings. 

As a short filmmaker, you can also host your movies on GUDSHO and get them streamed by audiences globally. You can choose any revenue stream that seems the most suitable for your film and start earning.

#2 Vimeo

Best for: Businesses and enterprises

Reasons to buy:

  • Ad-free video streaming
  • Well-known platform
  • Professional and tidy interface

Vimeo is a video hosting platform for individual creators and all sizes of businesses. As a filmmaker, you can host short films here and attract niche audiences. 

The platform provides varied pricing plans with different resource amounts so you can choose what suits you the best.

Vimeo can be a great choice if you want a well-known platform in the industry. Its professional and ad-free video streaming can be another reason for you to choose Vimeo.

To monetize your short films, you can choose from their monetization options, including subscriptions and rentals. 

Its SEO support optimizes your films, making them search-engine friendly and helping them rank well. 

The platform also offers an AI-based video editor to trim and edit your movies and repurpose them accordingly.


  • Supports 4K and 8K video quality
  • Numerous customizations for video player
  • Multiple revenue methods
  • Password-protected videos
  • Scalability for varied resources


Best for: Filmmakers of all kinds

Reasons to buy:

  • Accepts films from filmmakers, distributors, and studios
  • More than 12 million film fans
  • Handpicked films chosen by their staff

MUBI is known for its curated selection of classic and modern movies. The platform invites filmmakers globally to submit their creations.

Once your film is chosen, MUBI showcases it for 30 days. For earnings, filmmakers receive half of the total earned amount and two years of license. You can also expect news and constructive criticism on your released films provided by film fanatics.

Your audience here takes subscriptions to stream the movies; fans stay updated about the newly launched films with MUBI Notebook, the print magazine. MUBI GO displays its films in cinemas weekly and worldwide.


  • Catalogs and video library
  • “Film of the Day” section
  • Showcases films both online and offline
  • 2 years of licensing for your film
  • 50/50 profit sharing 

#4 Shorts TV

Best for: Short filmmakers and TV series makers

Reasons to buy:

  • Doesn’t restrict you from publishing on other platforms
  • Works in more than 90 countries
  • Supports many genres

Shorts TV is another platform for short filmmakers, providing you with 3 years of licensing. Creators can pick from multiple genres to create and host their films without limitations on the duration.

The platform features a premium TV channel where they showcase all their best short films in high video quality. If your movie gets nominated for an Oscar, Shorts TV also displays it in the theaters. So, as long as your film educates, inspires, or entertains, you can submit it here.


  • High-definition video quality
  • Covers multiple genres
  • Theatrical release for Oscar Nominated Short Films 

#5 Indieflix

Best for: Filmmakers and short film distributors

Reasons to buy:

  • Audiences from 85+ countries
  • Showcases, films, shorts, series, and documentaries
  • Accepts any length of films

Indieflix accepts indie short films, series, and documentaries,  inviting global filmmakers to host their creations online. You can host short films in genres like Comedy, Drama, Animation, and Black Lives. Indieflix is also a platform to consider if you make films that can create a social impact. 

The platform features its films worldwide while letting you block any specific region. You earn from the revenue-per-minute system, which means you get paid for every minute your film is watched.

With Indieflix, you get a big exposure since it showcases your films online and offline, including schools, corporations, and communities globally.


  • iNDIEFLIX Festivals for virtual showcasing of films
  • Option to geo-block
  • Revenue Per Minute method for earnings

Additional Distribution Options For Your Short Film

Other than streaming platforms, there are other ways to get your short film featured. Let’s uncover them here-

Screen At Niche Events

Another way to get your short film seen is to look for film conventions, comic cons, and any such events happening in your city. You can inquire at your local screening places and rent the space if it’s affordable.

Educational Distribution

If your short films have an educating and inspiring message, you can contact some schools and universities and let them know about your proposal. They might also acquire rights to your short film and pay you a significant amount for one year of licensing.

In-Flight Entertainment

Short filmmakers can also reach some airlines and provide their creations as in-flight entertainment. This not only gives you a huge audience but also a hefty sum that can significantly support your next short film.

“To be a film-maker, you have to lead. You have to be psychotic in your desire to do something. People always like the easy route. You have to push very hard to get something unusual, something different” – Danny Boyle


Creating and selling short films might be challenging, especially if you are a novice. However, the more you create, the better you become at creating; all the trials and tribulations take you to the path of glory, where your success is bound to happen. This is your chance to create your short film and try selling it using various mediums and platforms as mentioned above.

Hi, I’m Vignesh, an entrepreneur and growth hacker helping online video content creators to create a powerful content that propels their growth and increases their revenue online with video monetization strategies.

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