If seasonal Game of Thrones piracy shows us the pervasive impact of content theft at the big budget end of the spectrum, a new coalition of smaller production companies aims to tell us what’s going on at the independent end.

The Internet Security Task Force sounds like something that could come right from a movie about cyber crime, but in reality will form the latest effort by less well-known filmmakers and studios to convince consumers of the damage piracy does to their business. As in any anti-piracy effort the remit will be broad, as no individual measure holds the key to moving viewers away from illegal access points and into channels that bring in much-needed revenue.

Interestingly, the movies produced by some of the companies involved could be considered as blockbusters by some.

Millennium Films, for example, is behind the star-studded Expendables franchise, while other notable titles from ISTF founders in recent years include The Hurt Locker, American Heist, Olympus Has Fallen, and While We’re Young. Their actors include some of the biggest names in Hollywood, from Al Pacino and Morgan Freeman to Demi Moore and Jessica Biel. These are not names and titles that conjure up an image of small, tight-knit creative teams working on a limited budget.

The truth is that the companies behind many of these titles that go on to be blockbusters still operate with fewer than 50 employees. They rely on the dedication and talent of those they employ almost as much as they rely on the viewing public who take an interest in their titles to pay to watch them. Whether that’s full price in the movie theater upon release, paying to download the film via a legitimate online retailer, or even just a few bucks to rent them digitally, all of this adds up to vital revenue that determines whether a film makes money, or at the very least breaks even so that the title was worth making in the first place.

Cash PhotoAs an industry that contributes more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy every year, it can be all too easy for viewers to focus on the big names and blockbuster budgets that the top few titles have to throw around.

But this is like comparing your local bank chain to a Wall Street investment bank, or that local Mom and Pop general store to the nearest Walmart. They’re not at all the same, and the smaller examples live on a knife-edge of profit margins that they absolutely must maintain in order to keep those creative juices flowing.

The smaller titles fuel the blockbusters of the future, whether by blowing up themselves and making a name for the studio, or simply by bringing in enough money to pay for those productions that don’t make as much as expected. Even those titles can become cult and critical classics, though, and deserve the opportunity to see the light of day and to impress an audience.

When it comes to Hollywood and the impact of piracy, it isn’t the superstars and billion dollar studios that  we should think  of first, but the independent creators who stake their living on the idea that fans will be willing to pay for movies and television shows that they enjoy.