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TOPIC: What Makes An Independent Movie?

What Makes An Independent Movie? 11 May 2004 10:52 #8137

  • take2
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What other factors classify a movie as an independent film aside from the fact that they don't normally have known actors and actresses in the leading roles?
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Re: What Makes An Independent Movie? 11 May 2004 11:30 #8138

  • Larry Thomas
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I like to think that an independent film is one made outside of the constraints of studio tyranny and stupidity.

It is one that has an appeal and an aesthitic for an audience that does not normally go to your average "moron movie."

It is a film that will engage its intended audience in conversation, not only about the one particular film, but film in general.

It is a film that will spark thoughtful, if not rave, reviews and win awards at film festivals.

And once upon a time, it also meant a film that was independently distributed. But these days, with all the majors having their "dependent" divisions, that's becoming rarer.

I'm sure there are more descriptives around, but that's just off the top of my head.
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Re: What Makes An Independent Movie? 11 May 2004 11:36 #8139

  • outaframe
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Normally: small outfit, low volume output, low budget, non-mainstream story, sometimes group or family financed, specialized market, sometimes for just a local market, experimental, sometimes a one-off effort, any number of other factors... Usually, an item the majors won't touch, but once in a Blue Moon it hits big and crosses over to mainstream, and one of the majors picks it... Nothing is cast in stone!...
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Re: What Makes An Independent Movie? 11 May 2004 11:38 #8140

  • criterion
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I think the term was originally applied to films that were free of studio financing, and thus studio gerrymandering. Truly independent films were financed through personal means and gave the director complete control, and ultimately liability, for the picture.

Over the years, I think the definition has grown to encompass any movie that was made for less than $20,000,000... regardless of the actors and actresses in the cast. I don't think an unknown cast is necessarily a requisite for independent film as much as it is an effect of having a lower budget... small budget equals low paychecks for actors, and unless you can make a big name actor or actress fall in love with your script, you'll have no other way to lure them into the picture.
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Re: What Makes An Independent Movie? 11 May 2004 13:55 #8141

  • RealButter
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"Self-financed, personal vision, made for an underserved audience that doesn't see its interests on screen, released by an independent distributor - of course, it's independent with a capital 'I'," noted John Pierson, summing up the definition well.

This quote was in response to the question at Indiewire.com "Is 'The Passion of the Christ' an independent film?"

Interesting article: http://www.indiewire.com/biz/biz_040303passion.html

The line between independent and non-independent can be blurry. More "mainstream" theaters pick up indies than in the past and more corporate chains (Landmark for one) are swallowing up indie houses and building indie multi-plexes.

In some ways, it's easier to identify what's NOT an indie rather than what is.

Sandra
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Re: What Makes An Independent Movie? 11 May 2004 15:49 #8142

  • jimor
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Larry Thomas is quite complimentary of the qualities of "Indie" films, but I am afraid that there is a downside to them too. Years ago, when the studio system still existed (which is what the Independents were contrasted with), the studios maintained highly professional standards of production, such as the dialogue being clearly heard in all situations, even if 'cinema verite' had to suffer for that. Today, one often cannot understand all the dialogue even if the 'stars' did grow up speaking English, a diminishing reality in this day and age.

The studios also had the resources and oversight to maintain professionalism, something the Indies often don't, and often don't care about. The term "self-indulgent" is often nowadays applied to various Indie producers who don't even attempt professionalism and instead turn out something more akin to a high school flicks. The idiots who comprise the independent films clique then make raucous noises of approval as the average movie goer strains to make out what is being said from a murky plot (if any) and stares at the screen with a squint to follow ultra fast 'quick take' camera work and poor ("moody") lighting. With carbon arc projection all but gone and xenon not able to provide a bright picture in most places, the trend to darkly lit, and dark humored movies is all the rage. If this is the future of most "Indie" films, I'm all for returning to the old studio system of quality, where they turned out commonplace but watchable movies, shown in their own well-maintained theatres, and at prices that did not dent one's wallet while he hears today only the cash terminals in Concessions and conflicting food odors with chatter in what was once an auditorium (a word which means a 'place of hearing.') It appears that the Indies have the day, since most people don't really go to take in a good film in any case; the cinema is a social center with most any conduct tolerated. FILM? What's that?

I guess that I am just too old and naive; such days will never come again.
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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Re: What Makes An Independent Movie? 12 May 2004 21:47 #8143

  • Avalon
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So, I guess you saw Greendale, eh Jimor?
Great films like Amile, Touching the Void, and Triplets of Belleville seem to be paid for with a film that makes me want to apologize to my public. I got into “Art and Independent” exhibition because the first-run scene had become a wasteland. I traded those high production values for a script that had more thought than some Mountain Dew powered adolescent fantasy. I love a good first-run film and am never too snobbish to enjoy LOTR, Finding Nemo, or even a bad Steve Martin flick. But, I’m happier putting up with the odd Greendale or the appallingly horrid production value of a film like My Architect for a theatre usually running films like Talk to Her and Monsieur Ibrahim.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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