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.