I have to admit that I find it extremely hard to include films like Brothers on the indie list. Do films like that really struggle like we indie filmmakers do, day in/day out? They have it easy, right? They have major Hollywood players on board with deep pockets. So why should we consider them indie?
Well, I suppose we don't technically have to. But I'd like to think we can play in the same playground and by including them I hope it might actually equalize us all a little more. And the more we accept these larger films that are spending way too much as being part of our world then perhaps we can actually influence them?
The more they are compared to the little guys then maybe they can look at us and realize that they should be spending less and that they CAN spend less. If held at arms length or in contempt, they may continue to run rampant.
And maybe we can look at them as providing a means to getting great drama out to the mainstream and reminding them of what they are missing? Perhaps seeing Brothers will inspire some to seek out other great drama that may have been made truly indie?
Whether Jim Sheridan has $5 million or $25 million to make a film, he is still a wonderful dramatic filmmaker. Perhaps the discussion should be more about how can we make more films like the ones Jim Sheridan makes -- on any budget level -- and make them profitable?
I disagree with Noah on the definition of an independent film. There has to be some sort of clear division. If Ryan K, or any individual, pays for a film, that's clearly independent of the corporations of the studio.
Anyway, I prefer it to the definition of indie being some sort of spirit or character of the film, which was really just a branding tactic used by the mini-majors when they were bought by the studios. That definition is clearly a little more esoteric.
Distribution is a separate discussion, but no one wants to cough up more than 6 M (less these days) without distribution in place, and that means a studio. The agreements that get these films made can be so complicated. I definitely think District 9 could not have been made by a studio, but without Warner Bros distributing, it wouldn't have gotten made at all. I'm not really clear on how that worked and I suspect is different for every film.
But Noah is definitely right about all the other stuff, like that type of film killing smart film making. It's been fifteen years of being marketed smart films that really aren't that smart or different to Hollywood, fifteen years of being sold on the idea that a mainstream film could be indie that's killed smart film making.
There were exceptions over the years, but mostly the indies became low budget studio films. They became the TGIF or the Applebee's to the studio's McDonalds.
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