There Is A Problem With The Indie Film Community (And it’s Fixable)
Snooty. Snooty? Snotty. Snotty? Snob. Straight up, indie filmmakers get enough flack from the rest of the world for their career choice. They shouldn’t have to get it from fellow indie filmmakers. Bottom line. Hands down.
When someone decides that they’re going to take on the venture of making an independent film it’s pretty much like deciding to build an ark. There’s no “easy” way to go about it. The process has many pitfalls and problems that the team will have to face with the production process. However, the one problem that indie filmmakers shouldn’t have to put up with is fellow indie filmmakers not supporting them along the way.
Having made my first feature, which took two-and-a-half years to complete, it has become apparent to me that an already “established” (in their own minds, at the very least) group of American indie filmmakers seem to only want to pay attention to the stuff that they and their friends work on, or what some people call “faux-indie” — projects with way bigger budgets, that are outside of major studios. These are the folks who have worked on or made a few films, and have somehow been able to corner the American Internet niche on indie film-making. They’re the ones who run all of the most popular indie film websites, who seem to have all this expert, formulaic advice on how to make an indie flick. These folks are the people who cover all of the “indie film” news and reviews (except yours, because you’re not friends).
There is a problem here. The problem a lot of truly independent filmmakers face is getting their stuff out to the public. And the problem is that if they don’t have a huge marketing budget, if they’ve (let’s say) made a flick for ten grand and have nothing leftover to actually show people there’s a film someone may want to watch, then the only way they can do that is to use these “indie film” sites. Sure there’s the festival circuit, and word-of-mouth, but those two things don’t guarantee you getting your film out there en masse. But, there’s a catch. These sites will only watch your film if you PAY THEM to, and even then you’re not guaranteed they’ll even mention it anywhere. Are these people actually filmmakers, or are they just out to bamboozle you out of your money so they can keep up their profiles as “supposed” experts in the field?
Here’s a question: Why can’t these people be both filmmakers and Internet entrepreneurs? Kevin Smith does it. Granted he’s not really in charge of writing reviews for others’ films, but you get the point.
The solution comes to me as this:
It is imperative, as artists, to be supportive of other artists — especially when working in the same medium. Someone may be well versed, and book-smart, in film theory, but they may have never made a fucking film in their lives. They have no practical experience. Those people? They need to shut their fucking mouths.
Those of you who run large “independent” film sites? Loosen the fuck up. We understand you’re probably making your living from selling advertisements and charging people just to watch their film, but if you are really “indie” filmmakers then you’d make time for the guy that just shot a black and white feature in a week for two grand. People have to start somewhere. And, please remember that YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. I don’t. Nobody does.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I CAN SAY TO INDIE FILMMAKERS IS THIS: Don’t be a snob. We’re in this thing together. Introduce yourselves. Help promote each other’s work. Work for free because you love it (if it isn’t what you’re trying to make a career of). Hold a light or a boom. Talk to each other online and over coffee.
Too often we think of ourselves as “better” than someone who is trying to accomplish the same things we are — to make a film that is meaningful to people. If you’re not in it for that reason, you’re not in it for the right ones.