Over the weekend I was asked by a fellow filmmaker, what I mean when I write or say “truly independent“. For those of you who have been following this blog or my work with some of the film festivals, I will often write or say something like “oh yeah, they show truly independent film” with a huge emphasis on truly.
My intention in integrating the word truly, whenever I utilize the term: independent film, is nothing more than a device to emphasize the level of independence involved in the production, while avoiding an emphasis on the monetary value of a film’s production (as happens with the term low budget film).
With the proliferation of HD technology, the line between independent film and low budget/no budget film is slowly but surely becoming blurred. There are some impeccable looking films out there that were produced without a budget – aside from the cost of an HD camcorder and some great locations and actors (who were probably all volunteers anyway). The independent aspect of it is when the filmmaker is just that: the filmmaker. engaged in all aspects of the production. Sometimes it’s one of two people collaborating but independent is as independent does. Not just a director with a staff working under him, which too, can be a production regarded as independent in the 1990’s sense of the term. I do not consider these movies independent though, even though they are produced outside of a studio, they’re still financed and the filmmaker is typically not doing all of the leg work on his or her own. It’s this level of non-studio film making that I refuse to describe as independent, but instead employ the term: micro-budget.
There needs to be recognition of these separate types of non-studio films within the festival and distribution systems, for no other reason than to allow each film to be judged on its own merits, whether by a festival jury or by the ticket buying public. It’s a mechanism that, at its core, would allow viewers to understand what the difference is between a multi-million dollar Hollywood film, a hundred thousand dollar low budget film, a twenty thousand dollar micro-budget film and a no budget indie. If we can begin to educate the public on this, then perhaps we can stimulate a bit of appreciation for the truly independent films – and maybe, just maybe, we might be able to create a stronger market for the work being created at the individual level.
Michael Rader is an artist in Brooklyn, who it turns out, has made a few experimental films. The most recent is MAN VERSUS ULTRAMAN, which I was introduced to by the 2012 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. In the main lobby of the festival where filmmakers had their movie posters up, Michael had his poster and the special thing about it was that he painted it himself and brought the canvas in and hung it up. Not a copy, not a Photoshopped Kinkos printed run off – but the actual painting. Right away I thought WOW – I have to include this guy in my profile series!
MAN VERSUS ULTRAMAN screened at the AOBFF on the one night I couldn’t actually make it to the festival so, as is common with films and filmmakers that intrigue me, I went ahead and looked for it on the NewFilmmakers WithoutABox submissions list – low and behold it was there. Around the same time I was keying it into the Fall program, I got an e-mail from the director of the festival – a forward from Michael, asking that the film be placed in the same program I had just listed it in. What are the odds?
Now we have here, Michael’s Filmmaker Profile, filmed on location at his studio in Brooklyn, to promote his upcoming NewFilmmakers screening of MAN VERSUS ULTRAMAN. During the filming of the profile I found out that he had screened with us before, a Chaplin inspired film. Here is the story of both of those projects with clips from MAN VERSUS ULTRMAN. If you can make the 6PM program on Monday October 8th, , head on over to the Anthology Film Archives and join us!
Last week I ventured into Brooklyn to interview the King’s County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes who is a producer of the documentary film SLAVERY AND THE LAW (directed by Paula Heredia).
Screening Date: Friday October 05, 2012 | 7:00 Program
“Slavery and the Law” is a captivating documentary that follows a group of Brooklyn youth as they work to create a wall mural that commemorates the shift from enslavement to the Civil Rights Movement. The youth seen in the film are participants in the Youth and Congregations in Partnership (YCP), and Gender-Responsive Re-Entry Assistance Support Program (GRASP), under the office of the Kings County District Attorney. The history of slaves is discussed by distinguished professors and historians, beginning with the development of Colonial America and the slave trade. As the title suggests, the legal system is introduced in the film as the youth and professors explore the laws imposed on slaves. The legal implications of slavery are documented in the film by looking at the Three Fifths Compromise in the United States Constitution, and the Fugitive Slave Act. Court cases involving slave ownership and segregation are investigated, with stories of individuals and artwork displayed. Throughout the film, the youth participants share what they have learned as viewers follow their progress on the mural and on trips to historical sites involved in the Underground Railroad and present-day Weeksville, located in Brooklyn.The film is brought to a conclusion with a look at how the law has changed slavery. The purpose was to educate viewers, particularly youth on the history of slavery and to encourage them to strive for impact and change based in law.