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By Kellie Ann Benz
It’s what fills our daydreams.
The Duplass Brothers, Lynn Shelton, JC Chandor, Katherine Bigelow and Benh Zeitlin, Steven Soderbergh, before he started threatening to retire on an annual basis. Robert Rodriguez, before he started making kids movies.
These are the names that rotate through our filmie craniums.
But the main reason that all of us fill our daydreams of indie film mega-success is because of one man: Quentin Tarantino. [...]
By Jay Webb
Walking down Main Street of the Sundance film festival this year, it felt like there was an ever-growing gap between the east and the west side of the street. Hollywood and Independent seem to be growing further and further apart, making the Sundance film festival, and other L.A. hyped festivals like it, such an increasingly awkward phenomena. You have a festival director who wants to keep the slate as Independent, fresh, and intriguing as possible, an audience that attends who has come to expect way more “accessible” stories, and big biz owned media companies like Variety claiming the festival “suffered from too much Brooklyn” and squawking at 2 million dollar advance tags for indie films in today’s market. We feel for you Mr. Redford, we do…but you created this monster, and now it ‘s become a near perfect representation of the dichotomy within the film Industry.
This is not an East vs. West thing, but more of a continued divide in mentality and approach to film. It is exclusivity, public relations, and celebrity versus collaboration, community building, and storytelling. Old Hollywood versus new thinkers. Creatives vs. creative exploiters. I think there is some ancient adage about a poor old man with a paint brush who grew frightened he may never be able to buy paint again if something were to happen to his even older brother who convinces the village people that the old man’s art is worth money. If there is no adage, then now there is. The artist and the thinker are inherently self-critical and the Hollywood older brother is inherently opportunistic. [...]
By Morgan J. Freeman
This story won’t shock anybody who knows me — but I’m hoping it might help some who don’t.
When my debut feature, Hurricane Streets, won an unprecedented three awards at Sundance in 1997 (Audience Award, Best Director, Best Cinematography), I thought I’d arrived at the age of 27. I was sure of it. All my hard work had paid off and I was, as they said, “set.” With the struggle behind me, it was time to celebrate, to bask in the glow of my crowning achievements and settle in as one of our industry’s top directors.
But early success went straight to my head. Bigtime. Something shifted when I won those awards — my ego was fed a huge dose of You Rule Pie — and I was consumed by it. I became completely self-absorbed with my achievements and couldn’t celebrate them enough. Fueled by a false sense of my place, I lost sight of my way — and had zero ability to capitalize off the moment in a sane, strategic way. I skipped key industry meetings, canceling last minute if at all; refused a meeting with an A-list actor because a producer wanted to be present; boycotted a critical on-set budget meeting with a financier so I could watch X-Files (he now runs a studio); was more interested in dating the lead actress than directing her; and showed up on set with last night’s party all over me.
When my agent, manager or lawyer advised me to clean up my act, I fired them (usually over vitriolic late night emails). Without really grasping what was happening, this small window of opportunity — one I perceived as permanent, as “mine” — slammed shut. And by the time I came to six years later, it was as if it had never really been opened at all.
I was 33, scratching my head, wondering what the fuck had just happened? [...]
Data shows that spending on indie films rivals the major movie studios
Entertainment Media Partners and Cultural Weekly are pleased to announce the release of an in-‐depth infographic exploring the state of independent filmmaking by looking at key data associated to The Sundance Film Festival. Although the info graphic is below on the post, you can also access the full analysis here:
“This is the first time anyone has tried to quantify the amount of money spent producing independent films every year,” said Adam Leipzig, CEO of Entertainment Media Partners. “The numbers are huge— over $3 billion per year—even though each film is financed one at a time.” The infographic provides an eye-‐opening look at the importance of The Sundance Film Festival and the movies screened there, by visualizing data on films submitted, films accepted, financial investment, and how many people work on indie movies. It also offers box office data associated with films that have sold for the most money at the festival, and those that served as opening night premieres.
Leipzig identified these key findings:
• Over $3 billion is spent annually to produce independent films, rivaling the production expenditure of major movie studios.
• Less than 2% of that $3 billion will be recouped. [...]
I am not going to go to Sundance this year. I need a break. Consider it an experiment: what will I do if I skip that convention this year? It long ago stopped being a film festival for me. I only got to spend about 20% of my time seeing movies when I went. I ended up doing meetings after meetings.
But that was when I was addicted to producing films. Now that I have kicked that habit, maybe I could return and just be there to enjoy the bounty. But I don’t think so.
If I attended Sundance, I would feel too tempted to “develop opportunities” (aka take meetings) and catch up with old friends and cohorts. And as a result I would probably miss the films I would most love. As it is, that happens far too much at festivals now; I often get caught up with the buzz and see the popular films — and those aren’t what I personally love most. How do we make sure the undersung films get seen more?
One of the big failures I see in #IndieFilm these days is the lack of real peer review and support. There are some nice exceptions, like Paul Thomas Anderson’s support of BREAKFASTS WITH CURTIS. But more of us need to champion the work we love of others. We are in this all together and we have to reach beyond our personal boundaries. I want to help change that. So… [...]