Friday, March 21, 2008

The Trouble With Indie Films

I love indie films, for many of the reasons that filmmaker J. Neil Schulman (Lady Magdalene's) doesn't. However, Neil makes so many valid observations about indie films, I asked if it were okay for me to reprint them here:

"Independent film has become, in its own way, as strict and narrowly selective as commercial movies. I did not set out to make an arthouse film for a limited audience. I set out to do what I have always done, first as a novelist then later as a screenwriter, which is to make an entertainment for as large an audience as could possibly be receptive to my own admittedly idiosyncratic esthetics and opinions. I have always enjoyed suspense and strong plots. Many in the indie film community today consider plot to be atavistic or bourgeois. My favorite books and movies have always been uplifting, romantic, and driven by heroic characters. This is at odds with the spirit of much of independent film today, which is existentialist, naturalist, and tends to regard good as less powerful than evil. I am not a Candide who sees only the rosy side of life; but I do feel it to be my job as an artist to make it easier, not harder, for the person I entertain to confront the challenges in their own lives. To me, the purpose of fiction and drama -- even comedy and farce -- is the same as myth: to infect us with hope, and silence despair.

"We did everything we could to make an entertaining movie with appealing, memorable characters as well as a strong plot, and as high production values as we could achieve on our budget. I think if there is such a thing as a formula for box office success, this is it. But the only way anyone can know for sure is to be offered to an audience and let them decide.

"That opportunity is what we're working towards."

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