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Parent categories: independent - film
Related: film production - New Hollywood - Sundance Film Festival - experimental film
Contrast: the majors - mainstream film
An independent film (or indie film) is a film produced without the support of a major movie studio or a big budget. Creative, business, and technological reasons have all contributed to the growth of the independent film scene in the late 20th and early 21st century.
Creatively, it was becoming increasingly difficult to get studio backing for experimental films. Experimental elements in theme and style are inhibitors for the big studios.
On the business side, the costs of big-budget studio films also leads to conservative choices in cast and crew. The problem is exacerbated by the trend towards co-financing (over two-thirds of the films put out by Warner Bros. in 2000 were joint ventures, up from 10% in 1987). An unproven director is almost never given the opportunity to get his or her big break with the studios unless he or she has significant industry experience in film or television. Films with unknowns, particular in lead roles, are also rarely produced.
Until the advent of digital alternatives, the cost of professional film equipment and stock was also a hurdle to being able to produce, direct, or star in a traditional studio film. The cost of 35mm film is outpacing inflation: in 2002 alone, film negative costs were up 23%, according to Variety. Film requires expensive lighting and postproduction facilities.
But the advent of consumer camcorders in 1985, and more importantly, the arrival of high-resolution digital video in the early 1990s, have lowered the technology barrier to movie production significantly. Both production and post-production costs have been significantly lowered; today, the hardware and software for post-production can be installed in a commodity-based personal computer. Technologies such as DVDs, IEEE 1394 connections and non-linear editing system pro-level software like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, and consumer level software such as Final Cut Express and iMovie make movie-making relatively inexpensive.
Independent movie-making has resulted in the proliferation of short films and short film festivals. Full-length films are often showcased at film festivals such as Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Award winners from these exhibitions often get picked up for distribution by major film studios, and go on to worldwide releases. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_film
Down and Dirty Pictures : Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film (2004) - Peter Biskind
Down and Dirty Pictures : Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film (2004) - Peter Biskind [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
You've heard the rumors. The film industry is filled with ruthless executives who think nothing of brow-beating their employees, of using creative accounting to cheat filmmakers, and re-cutting a director's vision into a soulless crowd-pleaser. Well, it turns out those rumors are often true--at least according to Peter Biskind's highly entertaining Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. Packed with industry anecdotes and history, the book chronicles the growth and eventual mainstreaming of independent films and offers the back-story to seminal works including sex, lies, and videotape and Pulp Fiction among others. Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, divides most of his time between Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. Biskind simultaneously credits these two as fostering, though ultimately ruining, the purity of indpendent film. Other indies are largely left out, although the now-defunct October Films appears prominently in the role of noble failure. Biskind has serious points to make, but he's not stingy with the war stories, either. (One particularly amusing scene involves October executives chasing Robert Duvall's agent through a Sheraton Hotel in an attempt to stop him from making a deal with Miramax to distribute The Apostle.) Those who have only a passing interest in the movie business may tire of Biskind's oft-repeated themes (Weinstein is an evil genius! Redford is a passive-aggressive control freak!) but for those who truly love film industry gossip, Down and Dirty Pictures is a feast of insider stories--each tidbit juicier than the last. --Leah Weathersby, Amazon.com
According to Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls), most people associate independent filmmaking with such noble concepts as integrity, vision and self-sacrifice. This gritty, ferocious, compulsively readable book proves that these characterizations are only partly true, and that indie conditions are "darker, dirtier, and a lot smaller" than major studios' gilded environments. The intimidating image of Miramax's Harvey Weinstein plows powerfully through Biskind's saga; the studio honcho emerges as... read more --From Publishers Weekly
It wasn't so long ago that the Sundance Film Festival was an inconsequential event somewhere in Utah, and Miramax was a tiny distributor of music documentaries and soft-core trash. Today, of course, Sundance is the most important film festival this side of Cannes, and Miramax has become an industry giant, part of the huge Disney empire. Likewise, the directors who emerged from the independent movement, such as Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, and David O. Russell -- who once had to max out their credit cards to realize their visions on the screen -- are now among the best-known directors in Hollywood. Not to mention the actors who emerged with them, like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ethan Hawke, and Uma Thurman.
Down and Dirty Pictures chronicles the rise of independent filmmakers and of the twin engines -- Sundance and Miramax -- that have powered them. As he did in his acclaimed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind profiles the people who took the independent movement from obscurity to the Oscars, most notably Sundance founder Robert Redford and Harvey Weinstein, who with his brother, Bob, made Miramax an indie powerhouse. Biskind follows Sundance as it grew from a regional film festival to the premier showcase of independent film, succeeding almost despite the mercurial Redford, whose visionary plans were nearly thwarted by his own quixotic personality. He charts in fascinating detail the meteoric rise of the controversial Harvey Weinstein, often described as the last mogul, who created an Oscar factory that became the envy of the studios, while leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. As in Easy Riders, Biskind's incisive account is loaded with vibrant anecdotes and outrageous stories, all of it blended into a fast-moving narrative. Redford, the Weinsteins, and the directors, producers, and actors Biskind profiles are the people who reinvented Hollywood, making independent films mainstream. But success invariably means compromise, and it remains to be seen whether the indie spirit can survive its corporate embrace.
Candid, mesmerizing, and penetrating, Down and Dirty Pictures is a must-read for anyone interested in the film world and where it's headed. --Book Description