Independent Film Making
Independent Film Making is Facing a Rocky Road.
Hollywood has had a stranglehold on movie making since the early 20th century but since the late 60s more and more mavericks have taken independent film making to greater heights. Movies like Putney Swope and The Graduate were innovative when they were first released and paved the way for future generations of independent film making students and directors. Who can forget the young, fresh-faced Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate? This movie not only introduced us to Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft but also brought us the great song from Simon and Garfunkel Mrs. Robinson.
We also got to see a young star named Jon Voight play a lost and lonely character in Midnight Cowboy. These are movies that Hollywood was just incapable of making back in the sixties. It took some cinematic rebels to take independent film making techniques and make these films then fight for them until they got widespread distribution.
Distribution is still the key to getting any movie seen by audiences at theatres, though the methods of distribution are changing. International distribution is still controlled largely by the big Hollywood studios. They have locked up contracts with all of the top theater chains around the world. That is why you always see studio movies playing at the local multiplex and rarely any independent offerings except at small art house theaters in big cities.
Even when independent film making results in a great movie, the distributors are usually the art house subsidiaries of the big studios such as Fox Searchlight. Other art house subs have vanished when Paramount shut down Paramount Vantage, or when Time Warner shut down Warner Independent. The economic trouble is felt very strongly by indie film makers all over the world as the meltdown of indie distributors continues. Only 11 indie film distributors remain from the 38 official ìfront endî art house affiliates of the majors since 2007. There are still some die hards like Think Films but many are in free fall and will disappear unless something radical happens soon.
In the past few years independent film making has had some major successes. When Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture at the 2009 Academy Awards it came as a shock, but not a complete shock. Other independent films had paved the way for this over the previous years. Movies like The English Patient, Little Miss Sunshine, Sideways and many others.
The Blair Witch Project was a great example of successful independent film making gone right. New Line picked it up at one of the festivals and that movie which was made on a miniscule budget went on to make several hundred millions of dollars in worldwide profits.
Independent film making today faces its most difficult challenge ever in the face of the economic problems in the world. We are in danger of losing this much needed industry and people need to get out and support independent film making by paying to see these movies when they come to theaters.