May 2, 2014

Satirical Petition Asking Filmmakers to Stop Making Indie Movies Fails

Back in February, a satirical petition was started by Kentucker Audley in response to some recent articles that essentially stated we have an overabundance of cheap films, and it's devaluing the entire market. Audley, a filmmaker himself, and the creator of the website NoBudge, which promotes lesser-known indie films, decided that something needed to be done, and he started a "petition" asking 5,000 people to sign and promise to stop making their "mediocre" indie films. That "petition" has now failed, and Audley had some serious words to say about why he started it and how he feels about independent film in general.

Here is what Kentucker Audley had to say about his "petition", which only succeeded in getting 252 "quitters":

To provide some context, I created the petition as a response to two recent articles: one from Manohla Dargis in the New York Times calling for distributors to buy less films at Sundance '14 in order to prevent critics and audiences from being overwhelmed by mediocre movies. And second: one from Beanie Barnes at Salon classifying the indie film industry as the new Walmart, wherein an overabundance of cheap films have created an oversupply and devalued the product. They endorse radical proposals: make less films, distribute less films.

But since neither author offered concrete solutions how to achieve this, I decided to take the reigns by asking indie filmmakers if they would volunteer their way out of the industry.

This caused quite a stir on both the comments of this website, as well as on our Facebook page. Even though we stated that it was satirical in nature, many still came out in support of filmmakers and indie films, calling Audley all sorts of names. I suppose it's encouraging that there are so many people who appreciate independent film, and want to see it continue and thrive. There are more films being made now than there ever have been in the history of cinema, but we're getting so many more people contributing their voice that would never have had a shot even ten years ago thanks to the artificial barriers of entering the industry.

We are in a transition period in cinema, and nobody has quite figured out the best way forward in terms of distribution and curation. The worst thing that could happen would be to discourage new filmmakers from entering the industry, and to stop people from making work they want to make. Audley says it best here though:

All jokes aside, I love indie films & I would never urge anyone to stop making them. I started NoBudge in 2011 as a fan wanting to share films I loved & that's what I'll continue to do. We don't curate films here based on commercial potential, but instead on personality, authenticity, heart, vulnerability, weirdness, etc, etc. If your film doesn't fit in the industry, maybe it'll fit with us. If not, there are countless burgeoning internet distributors and self-release platforms launching all the time. Some won't last, some films will never make money, some audiences will feel overwhelmed by the glut, some critics will be disappointed by the films they review, and none of these are reasons why any aspiring filmmaker should decide not to make a film.

Nobody is going to get it 100% right their first time around, and for most people it takes a whole career to develop their unique voice. Discouraging most people from making films would surely be the end of cinema as we know it, because those at the top of the film industry didn't come out of nowhere -- they likely started making low-budget films. Had they been discouraged from adding their voice, we may not have some of the terrific filmmakers and films we have today.

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14 Comments

He got me to go to NoBudge, and that's the point right? Awareness of independent cinema. Not getting signatures on his petition is a good sign that people want independent film, mediocre or not.
And the people that didn't get the point of the petition? Wow, stupid.

May 2, 2014 at 6:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I honestly dont feel this is as big of an issue as people make it, more of a temporary issue due to the massive influx in technology allowing very good looking video. Half the people "trying" to make a film don't actually do it, or give up half way when they realize the sheer amount of effort. The other half never make another film, if you look at the statistics.

If you take that into consideration, the lackluster "mediocre" filmmakers will either give up after the first film, or not even make a film, making this issue not a big deal. The real passionate filmmakers will continue making films, hopefully improving with each effort, eventually delivering higher quality content while the rest sink to the bottom. There has ALWAYS been horrific films, and there will ALWAYS be: we're just in the middle of an evolution in cinema technology. We just need to wait for the storytellers to separate from the those only interested in the tech.

May 2, 2014 at 7:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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well said

May 2, 2014 at 8:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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this

May 3, 2014 at 12:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stan agian

The problems is that too many techies are flooding the market and drowning out the storytellers.

May 3, 2014 at 1:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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In Indie film? Do you know the kind of budgets required to produce good VFX? I seriously doubt the problem of Indie film over saturation is because of "techies" flooding the market with films lacking story. Sure, it's happening all the time with blockbusters, but I can't agree with you at all when it comes to Indie film...

May 3, 2014 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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And if you're just talking about people interested in film technology rather than just VFX... Well... I think you're shooting yourself in the foot a bit here... These "techies" that are "flooding" the market are the people that will form a great crew for your production. A camera geek is going to know their camera like the back of their hand. They'll know the right camera, lenses, aperture etc to use for each shot. Lighting geeks have studied what makes a shot work through lighting, but not only that, conveying an emotion that can help tell the story. Post production geeks will know the best ways to get the most out of your footage, making a tight edit quickly, creating a colour grade that matches the feel of the story, using the best delivery codecs for different platforms, creating a clean workflow from offline to online edit.

It's a shame that the "techies" seem to have such little respect in the film industry. I see so many "techie" freelance jobs for Indie films posted saying "we need this lamppost removed from this shot" or "we need to change the background on these shots". They always end with "unfortunately we don't have the budget to pay, but it'll be great for your showreel"...

Yes. Story is king with film. But show a little respect to the specialists that bring your production together. They've invested time and effort into their craft, as you have with learning to tell a story.

May 3, 2014 at 10:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I absolutely agree with you. For several months now I've been working with a weekly stand up comedy show. One guy's camera was out for repair so they asked me to fill in for him for a short they were working on and to film their sets. At first I was brought simply because of the gear that I own, I knew that going in. They let me run my own camera and set up their mics. Cool. We got the old camera working, I thought we should cut both together. As cool as that would be, demo reels for comics only use one camera angle, or so I was told.

To hell with that I said. I have done demo reels for a few other comics outside of that club, and on the most recent shoot I used a second hand held camera to get a better vantage of the performance as well as audience reactions. The client was very satisfied, to say the least, with the final work. Stand up comedy is very dynamic and the interactions with the audience are far more critical than the jokes themselves (for recruiters).

Yes, I am a very tech oriented person because I need to know my tools inside and out. Letting someone like me worry about the nitty gritty choices between mics and lenses allows performers to focus on their jobs. They make themselves looks good, I am there to capture that in any way I can. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that my background is in graphic design and painting.

Complete side note, my favorite career moment and humblebrag is comedian Hannibal Buress calling me out and saying that I had more cameras set up than at his special. We're a small club and he dropped in last minute to do a set but no one informed as to who I am or what my job is there.

May 3, 2014 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This has already happened. Some are content calling themselves filmmakers and never making a film. The author of this post for example. There's a lot of posturing online but eventually no work appears. No films. No film school I guess.

May 3, 2014 at 3:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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woo

If he means "indie" as in "Independent": a low budget film made by an aspiring filmmaker which is not made to please any sort of audience than the filmmaker itself, then that petition is completely, utterly, stupid. However, if by "indie" he means the genre of films, usually romantic comedies, in which filmmakers try to make everything as quirky as possible while making sure their characters are weird in a friendly sort of way and which spawned horrible attempts at movie making like "Juno and "Garden State," then I wish I knew about this petition before it failed.

May 2, 2014 at 8:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Theo

Why are Juno and Garden State bad movies?

May 5, 2014 at 2:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mike

Joe just go back and read the comments made by Robert who wrote the original article on this campaign for NFS. The main reason for the negative backlash on this site was because he wrote the whole thing completely straight-faced, missing himself the whole satirical point of it - and then stating there actually was "a deep seeded problem within the independent film industry"...

May 3, 2014 at 7:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pat

If a satirical post failed, wouldn't that mean people are quitting indie film making?

May 3, 2014 at 10:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Aregias

I quit!

May 6, 2014 at 7:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Micah Van Hove
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director, producer, dp