Who Cares About Independent Film Anyway?

<Start irony>

Thanks Apple. And Canon. And Sony.

And all of you- you know who you are. You're the ones who made it just SO easy for everyone to become a filmmaker these days and now we're paying the price. The Facebook messages, the endless event invitations, the please-like-this-project-cuz-I'm-working-on-it-and-we're-friends-right? pleas. Oh yeah, and the constant begging for money: my money so they can go pursue their dreams. Really, who do they think they are?

Don't they know that they're eroding the institution of commercial filmmaking? Don't they know that by creating low-budget projects and distributing them online they are causing audiences to rethink paying $9 for a movie ticket because they can get a wider variety of entertainment at home for a dollar or two? Don't they know that by creating independent content without running the gauntlet of commercial lawyers that they might create something unlike anything that has been done before? Don't they know that they might cause someone to get out of their chair and try to make a movie of their own!?!?!

Take this project for instance: "Recalculating" by Blue Damen Pictures
Recalculating Postcard

Here they are planning to create a film in the backyards of good, honest, ordinary Americans and asking for them to get involved. Get involved! What audience member wants to have special access to a film while it's in production? Isn't the whole point for a filmmaker to create a story  and then present it to an audience? They aren't just looking for people to donate money, either: that would be too normal. No, they want the audience to actually be part of their "team" as if it were important to get the audience involved before the film is finished.

And what's worse is this is a re-curring trend: they did this same "lets-involve-the-audience-from-the-very-beginning" team thing on a previous project that turned into a film called "Dark Before Dawn" which is now touring festivals. Supporters even got to vote on alternative beginnings, alternative endings, and had exclusive access to a special private twitter feed to get updates from the set while they were in production. Who does that!?

This Independent film trend is getting out of hand. Social media needs to stop making our entertainment so accessible to average people who think they should have a say in what they watch. If everyone started putting the $9 they would normally spend at a movie theatre towards projects like this "Recalculating" it would just encourage more and more people to try to make films that aren't based on toys or TV shows or re-boots of comic book characters. And we wouldn't want that.

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  • My first reaction was that your reference to "film" was anachronistic, given the bankruptcy of Kodak, and, of course, anyone can be an independent video maker courtesy of YouTube, which was your point.

    The real question is what justifies the experience of paying $9 to $15 to go to a theater, rather than view the independent production in the comfort of one's home? There has to be something wrong with the theater business if at least the chains are constantly combining, declaring bankruptcy, and casting off all but the 12-20 house multiplexes. Lord knows how those who purchased the old movie houses and made them into art theaters make money.

    Maybe the real answer is to embrace technological change and make sure your videos as posted where they can make money. After all, the Loop was full of XXX theaters, but no longer; you can see that on the Internet, too.

  • In reply to jack:

    True, "film" is a deceptive term, but then again musicians still make "records" even though most people don't actually buy vinyl...

    To my mind, movie theatres would do well to remember that audiences are going out for the experience of going out, the movie is just the excuse: they want something they can't get at home. I'm all for bringing back theatre experiences that include cartoons and serial shorts as well as feature entertainment.
    But that's just me.

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