Independent Filming: Not the ‘Self Publishing’ of the film world.

Anyone who is a fan of movies, even remotely, knows about the big name film studios that crank out movie after movie, year after year, studios such as Disney, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount and Columbia. Even those who are not film fans, have likely heard the names of these film companies. These companies, known together as “The Big Six” were responsible for the production of 134 movies in 2014 alone. In comparison to all of China producing 34 movies in total. These numbers, of course, do not represent the movies that were put out last year by studios such as Lionsgate, MGM, Dreamworks, etc. The list of studios goes on and on, but the point is that the big film companies put out hundreds of movies a year and rake in billions and billions of dollars from these movies. While 134 movies may not seem like a lot, to put it into perspective, we’ll say the average movie is 2 hours long (some are a bit longer, some a bit shorter, but 2 is a nice even number). 134 movies at 2 hours per movie, equates to 268 hours, divide that by 24 hours in a day and your looking at just over 11 consecutive days of movie time, just from the top six companies alone. When it is put into terms of the number of days it would take to watch all of these movies released, it starts to become a bit more real, but what about the movies that aren’t produced by these companies?

In 2013, there were close to 900 independent films screed in New York. Skipping the math this time, if all 900 movies followed the general time length of 2 hours, you’re looking at almost 75 days of movie time, a number that I find absolutely staggering. So, that begs the question, what is an independent film? Well, an independent film is one that is produced mostly or completely outside of the big studio filming system. This would seem to put it into the same vein as people self publishing their own novels and flooding the market with books that weren’t good enough to be published by and actual publishing house, but it’s much more than that. Yes, with 900 movies being independently filmed, the film market is being saturated with movies that may or may not have been good enough to be picked up by a big name studio, but one thing about independent films is that a lot of these movies are independent by choice, and some of them take the movie world by storm. When you hear “outside of the big studio filming system” what type of movie do you picture in your mind? Probably low-budget, bad acting and even worse camera quality and a no name cast? Well you wouldn’t be alone in thinking this. Many people have the misconception that independent movies are all low budget productions that appear as if they were shot on a smart phone with the special affects done by the directors little brother. But, a lot of people are often surprised that some of the biggest named movies each year don’t come out of these “Big Six” studios, but are in fact independent films. We’ll look at 2014 for instance, some of the bigger name independent movies from last year are: Under The Skin (Scarlett Johansson), Gone Girl (Ben Affleck, Tyler Perry), Snowpiercer (Chris Evens), Foxcatcher (Channing Tatum, Steve Carell), Joe (Nicholas Cage), Enemy (Jake Gyllenhaal), Chef (Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downy Jr.), John Wick (Keanu Reeves).

As you can see, Independent films can have a big impact on the film industry, all of the mentioned movies are movies that were either insanely popular, and have, or are likely to win awards. Not all independent movies are the ones that are filmed in someone’s back yard on a handheld camera with a cast of people that they rounded up from the neighborhood. A lot of amazing movies come out of the independent film circuit, movies with big names, great stories, excellent dialogue and phenomenal acting.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/09/so-many-indie-films-so-many-reasons/?_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21572218-tale-two-tinseltowns-split-screens

http://www.indiewire.com/article/the-best-reviewed-films-of-2014-according-to-criticwire

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One thought on “Independent Filming: Not the ‘Self Publishing’ of the film world.

  1. courtneycalderon February 15, 2015 / 12:29 am

    I had no idea that Gone Girl and Foxcatcher were independently filmed. That really drives home your point that independent films can be just as if not more popular than the movies that are cranked out by “The Big Six.”

    I also had never really thought about the comparison you made to self-published books. While some authors opt to self-publish for their own reasons, our society has a bit of a negative connotation associated with these authors. As you said in your post, some people see self-publishing as “flooding the market with books that weren’t good enough to be published by an actual publishing house.” While I don’t agree with this statement, I can recognize that some people feel this way. However, you don’t really see this same sentiment expressed about independent films. Most people get more excited about “indie” films than expected blockbusters. They definitely feed into the hipster culture, which absolutely adds to their appeal.

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