ARE INDIE FILMS DYING?

If you are in the film biz and you keep up to date with what is going on, you will know the small indie world of filmmaking is dying. Read many articles like this. http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2008/06/independent-fil.html

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Why are small films dying?  They can be made cheap but its not cost effective for distributors to plug millions into marketing when people are flocking to the blockbusters. It’s a mathetical problem. There is also a flood of indie films because of low cost technology, but most of them are shit, just like most Hollywood films are shit. It’s a “script” biz, but with very few good script writers.

Is this a depressing time to be a filmmaker? No! It’s the MOST EXCITING TIME! I love big dumb Hollywood flicks just like the next person. The best one’s of course. “The Dark Knights”, “Terminator” etc. But we all know that after a while you want to see human character driven stories. Offbeat tales, original takes on old genres, simple stories, or just far out niche filmmakers like David Lynch.

My point! The audiences will never die for small films. EVER! How can I be sure? As long as human beings have problems, there will be a market for stories. Especially in a world that’s increasingly hostile, confusing, dangerous, disturbed, and unpredictable.  Ok, a lot of fear comes from world events that seem to beyond our power. Terrorism, Global warming, political unrest etc.

In reality, I think what is really scary is the dysfunctional nature of human beings in general. We are more likely to die of depression, booze, drugs, overeating, unexciting comfort living. But ironically a lot of us worry about dying in a lighting in a bottle scenerio, terror attacks, catching a virus or plane crashes etc.  Our worst enemy is always ourselves. Even though we might not realise it.

My point! Little character driven stories, whether social comment films, genre, or themed entertainment stories all deal with these dysfucntional issues we have. So why would we ever want to be without those types of films. Sure, we all want to get on that big rollercoaster and forget all our troubles for a quick escape, but lots of people will always look for stories they can relate to, identify with.

The challenge with filmmakers is to start writing good scripts. People get too caught up with technology. All the stars, money, marketing budgets can’t rescue Hollywood when they make a bad film. So its the same with small films. Just because you can make them for the price of a burger, does not mean shit! You need a fresh script, great characters. If you have that, then people will watch that between their blockbusters.

Its an amazing time for filmakers. The guys before us had to raise a lot of money to make a film, then hand it over to distributors. Which was fine if you made a carreer overnight in your first few films. But most didn’t. Now we can make films for almost nothing, and market with well thought out viral campaigns. We can also self distribute direct to that market. Sure it’s not easy, but it shouldn’t be! And if you are good, the Hollywood sharks will also call. It’s REALLY REALLY EXCITING!

Indies are not dying. Want to know the truth. HOLLYWOOD IS DYING! The monster has got bigger, so they have to feed it more and more. Blockbusters are going to get even more bigger, and to the point they will just not be cost effective anymore too.

It will be an industry that really just produces 3D style themed parks, gaming, reality of you being “there” experiences. Which is cool, but the magic of “story telling” will be gone! And who will fill that gap market? Indie filmmakers! The smart one’s who have learned every aspect of the business.

I am going to get out there and get my audiences. It might take a few films, I need to cultivate a global fanbase for my work, but it is doable with a little talent and a lot of drive. I also might have to get into Hollywood too for a bit to build a fanbase, but I sincerely believe the independent filmmakers can rise from the ashes. But ONLY if we all get out heads out of our navels, and get biz and web savvy!

Thanks for reading

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6 responses to “ARE INDIE FILMS DYING?

  1. I agree, and I think this is also a precarious time to be an Indie film maker for the very same reasons you’ve listed above.

    I come from a voice over production background, and a recent explosion in really decent consumer gear means that anyone around the world can pop in a USB mic, and call themselves a voice talent. NO TRAINING REQUIRED YAY! The term “voice over actor” quickly becomes meaningless, and people rush to differentiate themselves…

    Same thing happened with “Podcast”. Watch as guys like the Revision3 people RUN away from that term as it’s taken on the stigma of “poor quality recordings of people rambling in their mothers basement”, even though they helped POPULARIZE the format. They’re all “webseries” producers now.

    Now anyone can grab a 5D2, or T1i, a couple decent primes, and call themselves an indie producer, the term “Independent Film” will start to lose meaning as well. Can you really even compare films like Moon or Brothers Bloom, to films like Colin? They all fall under the “indie umbrella”.

    The times they are a changing, and we’ve never lived in as exciting times to be producing content, but for production to continue, the TERM “Independent Film” might need to die…

    • I agree with you with you in some areas. But not in all. When I see someones site for a film, I can tell in 5 seconds flat if they have talent or potential. So I dont waste anytime in staying or moving on. I dont need to watch thousands of bad films to find good work. So I dont have a problem with all the junk out there. I like the fact I come across gold nuggets in the mud. There’s another side to this.

      From my experience of moving into the self distribution area, I have came to a conclusion about what you just said. Yes, EVERYBODY can now make a feature film. Most will be crap. But I really beleive that the bad filmmakers will die! Why? NOBODY has any idea the amount of work it takes to self distribute. Unless you have done it. Its another reality check world. And its what you have to do, unless you make films to give to distributors for free!

      Many filmmakers all say “We worked so hard to make such and such a project”. From my experience after two features, Making the film is a walk in the park compared to self distribution, and to making a living from it. And I spent a year making the film.

      So beleive me, the novelty of it will die off for most of them. It will turn out to be a hobby for most, once they realise that you really have to work 7 days a week, 18 hours a day until you die! I am prepared to do that because its in my blood. But its not in the blood of most. They leave with the romantic notion that they will be discovered. I think the real filmmakers, will shine through. Simply because good content will always get noticed.

      I don’t want to down no budget films. Why? Read here where I expand on it. (Section about directors that started out) https://indiemoviemaker.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/first-blog/

      The Chris Nolan’s, Rodriguez’s, Pete Jackson’s all shot their first films with nothing. And they would be shooting with no budgets if they started today. In my experience its often that the untalented are searching for big budgets at the start, when they have not proved they have any vision. Video here too about this. http://indieflicktips.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/control/

      From where I am standing, the industry is also FULL of bad movie makers with stars and budgets! I think most films in the industry are shit!! So I dont dismiss people who get camcorders and shoot a movie, as the next great filmmakers of tomorrow are among them. We ALL have to start somewhere. The talented and the untalented.

      As for independent films. Lets cut the bullshit! They are “depenedent”. “Moon” is great but its “dependent” on Sony’s distribution! Most Hollywood indies were not independent. So that term has never really meant anything to me anyway. I just use it because I really have self financed, and I am not looking for any major to distribute my smaller films. I am interested in making small films to to build an audience, and attract bigger budgets, and create work I control.

      I see where you are coming from, but the legit industry has no excuses, and they produced crap most of the time.

      thanks for the comment

      cheers

      David

  2. I agree with David that making a film is a walk in the park compared to distributing. I know, because we also invested in our first feature, along with other investors, and then after doing 17 film festivals around the world without getting a distributor, began our own distribution–which led to a fairly decent contract with a small distributor.

    However, we’d like to lose the middleman the next time around, since in order to keep making movies we need to have a roof over our head and food on the table for our families–middlemen today are taking the profits for themselves. No more! Not for us.

    “Independent film” means “independent” of studio control and a vast number of so-called “indies” are/were made by studio arms. They aren’t truly independent films. When there’s any sort of studio deal there’s control of the script, how the film is shot, etc. Real independent filmmakers DO NOT WANT TO BE CONTROLLED or compromised in the script or filmmaking. It’s definitely a harder road, but one we’re walking nevertheless as long as we’re able. We don’t make independent films because we want to get rich but because we’re passionate about the stories we want to tell and about the fact that cinema is also an art form. Call us crazy, it’s also about raising the level of culture today, which from the looks of things worldwide is sinking at a fairly rapid pace.

    The strength we are receiving to continue today is from forming community with other like-minded filmmakers, and for us that means filmmakers like David and producer Ted Hope, who does indeed give us HOPE for the future.

    Interesting discussion, though. See, even a blog post from months ago can suddenly stimulate discussion!

  3. Yeah thats all its about. There has NEVER really been an indie filmmaker wave of filmmaking. The perception is that there always has been, but there has not. Even the so called indies hits like “The Blair Witch” had millions spent on promotion. And all the indie hits really became corporate owned, and distributed with corp money.

    The indie really means self finance, but also self distribute, and in the long term filmmakers have that direct link to their audience, potential funding source. That has never happened in a wide movement. There never really was such things an indie films.

    As for me giving a hope for the future. Hey, thats extremely kind, but I am just another filmmaker among many trying to do this. But I do beleive it is doable, and want to prove that. Its a 3/5 year plan of course.

    Thanks for all great comments

    David

  4. Its’ making me excited. I think that when you look at indie stuff…it has a special something going on. I know this may sound silly and obvious…but it’s a path that couldn’t have been gone down any other way…the results come out uniquely with no budget….I fear money I really do. The second money is put into the story there is a very real fear / tendency that it COULD lean towards getting lazy…however somebody who’s not had it easy for 7 to 10 years and been on a mammoth struggle / had to work with no budget who THEN gets a big budget…I’m sure they would use it well…I spose we get into all sorts of philosophy here really…and its all about individuals…but I would imagine a gradual curve into laziness could happen with large amounts of money…THAT is what I fear.

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