November 3, 2015 at 8:17PM
What defines an Independent Filmmaker?
The first thing that usually pops into somebody's head when they think of an independent filmaker, is usually an image of people like us (the ones using this website). Or, typically anyone who uses Vimeo, Kickstarter, Short Of The Week, or even YouTube as an outlet for their work, could also be delineated as a self-sufficient director as well. But sometimes, the idea of one also varies among the budget that's incorperated into the production (primarily under $500,000 or $1,000,000 in today's standards), the company that's producing via distrubuting the director's work (Focus Features, Miramax, Sony Classics, and other subsidary corperations), or possibly the mindset, style, and overall nature of the filmmaker's work. This contemplation of mine started when a couple of my friends were discussing the oeuvre of Wes Anderson, who they consider to be the all-in-one definition of modern independent cinema. And of course, there's plenty of contradiction to that if you look at other masterminds like Shane Carruth and Jeremy Saulnier. But, there's also the other significant contradiction over the fact that some of his films have had a pretty high budget, at least in comparison to the independent standard (Rushmore - $20 million, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - $50 million). Despite the money, because of Anderson's artistry and distinctive use of mise-en-scène, I for sure consider him independent. Although, to some of the filmmakers on this website who choose to be autonomous in every aspect of their production (such as myself), Wes Anderson might not cut it. Neither does Gus Van Sant, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, David O. Russel, Steven Soderbergh, or even Richard Linklater because they've all worked with Hollywood, or have used budgets that defy the idenpendent standard at some point in their careers. Nevertheless, I know that the majority of today's best American directors were once dissociated from Hollywood and big financial plans. And some of which can still be classified as 'Independent' for the tonality they delivered in their earlier work, or because they've oscillated between these two standards of filmmaking. There's no better example than Steven Soderbergh, who would go from low-budget classics like Gray's Anatomy and Schizopolis, to Ocean's Eleven. Yet, he still has a very elegant passion for working outside of the mainstream, and he does a pretty damn good job at it as well. And looking back at all the filmmakers I've mentioned so far, I don't always consider them to be completely independent directors, but I definitely wouldn't classify them as Hollywood directors either. To me, it mainly depends on their adaptation to their limitations, their mentality, their composition of filmmaking, their ability to work around alterations (espicially if they're spontaneous), and their ability to stay more organic with source materials such as props, locations, and action. Even though that's a fairly merticulous, yet broad statement, it has the potential of collecting plenty of modern and classic artist who can clarify what it means to be truly autonomous. And if you think that's full of shit and you need a better example of what it means to be an independent filmmaker, then just go to Kickstarter to see how many upcoming directors are looking for support to help share their bold new vision. The majority of the films screened at Sundance provide perfect illustrations of sovereignty in cinema, as well as other festivals such as Slamdance, Black Maria, and South By Southwest (I know there's way more than that, but for the sake of finishing this post, you probably get idea). Not to mention Short of The Week, which is practically a curation system that collects some of the most beautiful contemporary shorts online. In general, we all know where we can find an independent filmmaker, and since you know what my classification of what one is, than what's yours?