7 Recurring Clichés in Indie Movie Scripts

7 Recurring Clichés in Indie Movie Scripts

credit: hyphenmatt

Indie movies have always had the freedom to push the creative envelope in ways that working for big production companies would not permit. However, since Indie movies became the “in thing”, the loose term has become something of a genre style that many filmmakers, and even the big production companies, want to get in on. Here is a list of some of the biggest Indie film clichés that seem to crop up again and again.

Famous Actors

An Independent movie used to be about aspiring actors trying to make a name for themselves. In the last few years it has turned into a way for established and famous actors to try and break out from a labeled category, or try something new. There is nothing wrong with a great actor, but it turns the film from Indie to Hollywood as soon as you see their faces. Zach Braff tried to rub off his Scrubs stamp in Garden State, as both director and actor, while everyone’s favourite funnyman, Will Ferrell, was the star of “Everything Must Go”.

Indie music

Just because it’s an Indie movie it doesn’t mean you have to put Indie music in it. How about finding something fresh, undiscovered and unique rather than doing the predictable and picking an Indie band for your theme tune.

The lovable loser

We’ve all seen them; movies where a geek or a loser has a horrible life but decides to turn it around on their own. They try something crazy, like go for the hottest girl in town and nearly always succeed. This is pretty much the basis for many ‘indie’ movie style scripts, which may be getting worn out. There is an endless list of these types of Indie movies, many of them actually starring Michael Cera as the aforementioned type of protagonist. Juno, Sideways, Napoleon Dynamite and Adventureland are all movies with the exact same type of person doing fairly similar things.

The Suburbs of the United States

Everything seems to happen outside of the cities these days, at least when you watch Indie films. A common plot will take place in a small, suburban town with an innocent family or person. Not only is the name of the place featured constantly, the directors insist on putting long shots of people living their daily lives or just certain locations. It seems like someone has written a “must have” list of things in an Indie film and put long and boring shots of a suburban town in bold capitals. Both Juno and Donnie Darko are perfect examples of how these shots have become overused.


This is the big one, the one that seems to feature constantly. It is even more popular than the lovable loser, the Suburban footage and the Indie Music put together. It is the mother of all Indie clichés and it is about family bonding. The story will be about a mid-life crisis, finding a long lost family member or reinventing yourself so that your family will approve of you. We have seen it all over and over again in movies such as Lymelife, The Darjeeling Limited and Garden State. Even though these are quite good films, the movies that have come after have just taken it too far, using the same type of story over and over again. Why not just think of something new and reinvent the Indie Genre? After all, it is about making new and exciting things that haven’t been tried before. Not making the same movie over and over again until you can’t recognize one from the other.


Yes, these have been a common theme in Indie Movies. The iconic instrument of destruction has pride of place in many movies such as ”Reservoir Dogs”, ”The Terminator”, “Mean Streets” and ”Pulp Fiction”, among many others. In fact the weapon often takes up a life of it’s own in the storyline.

Black & White

There are few things that really put a stamp on an Indie Film as much as a nice doze of black and white. These shots give the impression the film is a lot older than it actually is and provides the virewer with an alternative experience which perhaps makes us think about the story more rather than the blitz of clours we are accustomed to in Hollywood. Films such as ”She’s Gotta Have It” (1986), ”Ed Wood” (1994) and ”Raging Bull” (1980) have all done this.

Tim Chance is a writer and developer for PrinterInks ink cartidges – an online shop for printer cartridges. In his spare time, he’s a budding filmmaker with the ambition to create the finest zombie flick in the world.

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