I just stumbled across an old document on my computer, in which I was responding to a request from Filmmaker Magazine for a list of the “Top 10 American Indies.” The timestamp indicates that I wrote this in July of 1996, and I have no recollection of whether it actually ran in the magazine. However, I thought I would throw it up here and see if I can get a rise out of anyone.
I think the list holds up well, and the only film I would be tempted to add is “Pulp Fiction,” which I would characterize as the film that started the decline and eventual end to what we used to call American Independent Cinema.
For what it’s worth, here is the list. Feel free to comment with your own ideas.
These, in order, would be my choices for the top 10 most important (as in influential or breakthrough) American Independent Films:
This article was originally published in the Winter 2013 issue of Filmmaker Magazine.
Over the last decade, as the tools of filmmaking became less expensive and more generally accessible, there was much excitement about what came to be known as the “democratization” of filmmaking. Suddenly, one didn’t have to be rich or the relative of a studio executive to get a movie made. In addition, web sites such as YouTube and others opened up distribution to the masses, creating a new paradigm that was dubbed “user-generated content.”
All of this sounded great on the surface, but like other seemingly positive advances—remember the “thousand channel universe” or the “long tail theory?”—there are always unintended consequences. While it was true that more people were making “movies” than ever, I would characterize the change not as democratization, but rather as “amateurization.” These market forces—an oversupply of product and seemingly endless channels of accessible distribution—caused the bottom to drop out of the professional marketplace. Content in all its forms was being commoditized. Why should distribution channels pay for content when it could be provided for free? If audiences could be attracted by offering them quantity, why worry about quality? In other words, the so-called democratization of filmmaking was ensuring that no one could make a living at it. Continue reading “The New Professionalism – A Flight Toward Quality”
Last week, I moderated a master class on Independent Film Financing at the IFP’s Independent Film Conference. The panelists were Nekisa Cooper, producer of “Pariah,” Philipp Engelhorn, founder of Cinereach, Pat Kaufman, the Executive Director of the New York State Film Office, Richard Sheehan from HSBC Bank and Jonathan Gray, Senior Partner at Gray Krauss Des Rochers. It turned out to be an interesting overview of how to piece together financing in the current environment. I only wish it had lasted longer. You can read more about it at indieWIRE.
Filmmaker Magazine and the Workbook Project are doing a series of reports from Sundance/Slamdance on the new breed of filmmakers–the ones that are taking distribution of their work into their own hands. Below is one segment that the Filmmaker Blog describes as follows:
Filmmakers Zak Forsman and Kevin K. Shah of Sabi Pictures arrive at Park City with an intent to define the questions most relevant to independent distribution options. Insights from Brian Newman, Dan Mirvish, Jon Reiss and Ira Deutchman open a path toward discovering some real solutions.