In film, we have buckets of creative talent but scarcely any business capacity,' Patrick McKenna, chairman of Ingenious Media Group, told a meeting at Bafta in London this week. This relatively brief aside, specifically about the UK, came during a generally upbeat talk about the prospects for the British creative sector.

The UK obviously has its own unique set of issues, most obviously the dominance of the BBC and a powerful television sector. But the bare facts about independent film laid out by McKenna, who has 30 years' experience in entertainment finance, are applicable to huge swathes of the international business.

If one simplifies an effective entertainment industry as a balance between money, talent and distribution, the independent film sector has vast oil-fields of talent on which to draw but a pathetic hand-pump to channel it. Even an investment banker knows the creative equation doesn't add up.

For the studios and the bigger mini-majors, the business case is much clearer because they have the means to reach audiences and the real challenge has been how to turn the potential for vast global distribution into profit.

Distribution muscle, coupled with a sense the industry is recession-proof, means finance won't simply be switched off even during a credit crunch - as the Media Rights Capital $350m revolving credit deal demonstrates this week.

Money is still going to Hollywood, with Middle Eastern and Indian cash knocking at the door, but those dollars might as well be unicorn horns for all the relevance they have for much of the film business.

Every now and again, the finance pouring into Hollywood raises faint hopes the film industry might work on some trickle-down principle. Two years ago, as hedge-fund money began to swell studio coffers, plans were tabled for a European independent version of the slate finance deals that had begun to make an impact in Hollywood.

However, it was glaringly obvious the emperor had no clothes without an impossible reinvention of the business. A few brave souls pointed this out but most let it wash over them because independent film-making is nothing if not a triumph of hope over experience.

Ingenious knows more than most about that experience because it has been involved more than once in film-finance schemes that have been closed down. Its attempt to incentivise investors to finance films through sideways loss-relief tax loopholes were blocked twice by the UK government.

McKenna's answer, and apologies if you've heard this one before, is that change must come from the embrace of digital technologies and platforms. And, as he points out, the businesses that have raced ahead online are ones that are not carrying a ton of baggage from the analogue world. Google would not be at the top of the heap if it ran a chain of high-street libraries.

The existing film business may not have that luxury. This remains a business whose underlying economics and business culture remain wedded to 35mm and the opening-weekend box office.

The first trick is to break free of those shackles. Now the trickle of experiments is beginning to turn into a steady stream. Sacred cows are quietly being slaughtered away from the glare of the mainstream business. Release windows, for example, are being revised. In the UK, Revolver Entertainment this week announced a simultaneous multi-platform release for Steven Sheil's low-budget horror Mum & Dad.

The forthcoming Power To The Pixel event at The Times BFI London Film Festival will be a further reminder the digital revolution may be slow but it is throwing up working models for a business that is fast running out of old-world alternatives.

Getting the business right is a practical necessity for survival in a changing world ... but let's never forget that all the fancy distribution in the world and the finance to match means nothing on its own. It is a means to bring that great talent to audiences.