What Makes an Indie an Indie

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Definition – An independent film is a professional film production resulting in a feature film that is produced mostly or completely outside of the major film studio system. In addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment companies, independent films are also produced and/or distributed by subsidiaries of major film studios. Independent films are sometimes distinguishable by their content and style and the way in which the filmmakers’ personal artistic vision is realized. Usually, but not always, independent films are made with considerably lower film budgets than major studio films. Generally, the marketing of independent films is characterized by limited release, but can also have major marketing campaigns and a wide release. Independent films are often screened at local, national, or international film festivals before distribution (theatrical and/or retail release). An independent film production can rival a mainstream film production if it has the necessary funding and distribution. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Critical vs Commercial – “…Some small independent films achieve nothing more than critical acclaim at film festivals while others achieve that, as well as financial success. This can happen if a “buzz” is created about a small film. Independent film distribution companies can offer a decent deal for independent films that do well at film festivals. They need to supply movies to hundreds of countries and thousands of cable and satellite TV channels all over the world. The film festival circuit provides them with a lot of good, yet cheap films to purchase. But every once in a while a small independent film gets so much media attention at a film festival that it is purchased by a major film studio and screened in major theaters all over the country. Case in point; The Blair Witch Project. The first official public screening was on January 23rd, 1999 at the Sundance Film Festival. Writer-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez made this film for $25,000. By the end of the festival they sold their movie for 1.1 million dollars to Artisan Entertainment, who then went on to make $248 million dollars with this little movie!…” – Make Independent Films (READ MORE)

The Right to Control – “…So, now with the abridged history lesson of independent film under our belt let’s revisit our initial question, “what is an independent film”? Well, in reality there exists varying levels of independence. What it really boils down in the end is control. The ability of a filmmaker who has a vision and is able to stick to that vision with no compromises. A studio may partly fund or distribute a director’s film and yet it can still bear the title as an “independent”. With some level of studio involvement the end result may look more polished or reach a wider audience but if the director’s singular vision remains intact, in my opinion, it’s independent. As a brief afterthought, if a filmmaker makes the decision to self-finance, self-produce and self-distribute their film then by all means they deserve the right to market, promote and boast that their film is “100% Independent….” – Stephen Reilly (READ MORE)

What Makes an Indie an Indie

  • Low budget and/or if the film is funded or bought by a major studio, finance is less than 50% of the average mainstream film budget
  • Normally films with subtitles and with non-mainstream actors
  • Normally films with non-escapist, mega-expensive or formulaic theme
  • Normally with controversial subject matter or experimental film techniques using digital equipment
  • Screened in several prestigious competitions or film festivals
  • Exhibited in smaller venues or film art house and if it shown in megaplexes, it’s on a limited run
  • Films made outside the control of dominant major films studios
  • Filmmaker makes the decision to self-finance, self-produce and self-distribute/promote (100% Independent)

Work of Passion – “…Last Monday, the 1987 CCP Independent Cinema and Video Competition opened without much fanfare and with only few people in attendance. As a matter of fact, no one from the CCP’s top brass except for CCP Coordinator for Film, Hammy Sotto – graced the affair to launch the first short film and video competition under the new regime. Sad, but the event dramatizes the state of independent film making in this country: generally, the indifference and lack of interest on the part of the movie audience, not even the film students were there to lend support and a perceived feeling of distrust on the part of the film community. Nevertheless, it was an auspicious start as 27 short films were shown with about half of them of undoubtedly festival quality. The list represented shor-film output for two years (1985-1986). The same festival was not held last year because of the disbandment of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines after the so-called February revold. With the subsequent reorganization of the Cultural Center of the Philippinbes, a coordinating center for film was created, one of its aims is to continue the tradition of giving recognition to the short-film makers who have excelled in a field that, “let’s face it, has remained unappreciated in this country. Despite ist lack of support, independent film making (I prefer the term “independent”over short-film making, which traditionally referes to the 8 and 16 mm films, because the former includes the 35 mm films and even video which are produced separate from the mainstream commercial cinema), has given us something which is sorely lacking in our daily movie fare. Independent cinemas is primarily a work of passion. It is cinema which tells of man’s unexplored fears and joys, a cinema that disturbs, a cinema that inspires…” – Mikr Feria, Manila Standard, 02 Aug 1987, p14 (READ MORE)

Blogger vs Reviewer – “…In this era of blogging, anyone and everyone who has access to a computer can be a film reviewer. But local moviegoers also don’t care as they don’t purposefully turn on their laptops just to read a movie review on line. And sadly, a lot of those who write blogs do not even have a good mastery of the English language and their distorted grammar often just give us a headache. Lately, though, the way the critics groups have totally rejected mainstream films released to wider, broader audiences to favor films only they themselves have seen and nobody else saw, has become truly quite disturbing. Are they really helping the movies that they choose to win? Are they really helping the local film industry at all? If you’d study the indie films that reaped awards in recent years, like “Damgo ni Eleuteria” (which we personally like), “Tirador”, “Shieka”, “Himpapawid”, etc. none of these films got a wide release even after winning awards. For that matter, Lav Diaz is one of our best known indie filmmakers and his 4 to 8-hour films have won accolades abroad, like “Ebolusyon”, “Death in the Land of Encantos”, “Melancholia” and the recent Cannes Filmfest entry, “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan”. But sadly, they were never shown in our commercial theatres and only a handful of avid cineastes saw them. The most familiar Lav Diaz films remain to be his “pito-pito” flicks “Kriminal ng Barrio Concepcion” and “Hubad sa Ilalim ng Buwan…” – Mario E. Bautista, Showbiz Portal, 23 June 2013 (READ MORE)

Vilma Santos’ Indie Projects:

  • Lamat sa Kristal (1988) – “…Vilma Santos went through with the taping of her first drama special, Lamat sa Kristal, during the rage of killer typhoon Unsang. While it wrought havoc in the entire nation and claimed numerous lives and destroyed properties, the whole production made good use of the terribly bad weather to set the mood for the top actress’ tele-movie. Indeed, there’s nothing like Mother Nature providing the real atmosphere, as the stars and crew braced the strong winds and heavy rains. To the said stars and crew the showbiz rule “the show must go on” still holds true, no matter what the weather is…” – Meg mendoza (READ MORE)
  • Lazarito (1990s) – “…Ang dream ko naman talaga—nung hindi ko alam na papasok ako sa pulitika—ay makapagdirek ng movie. Yun yung next step ko, parang maging Laurice Guillen, Marilou Diaz-Abaya. Nagpapaturo na nga ako ng anggulo! Yun ang dream ko talaga. But she was quick to point out that she already directed a telemovie for GMA-7 in the past. Titled Lazarito, it starred Dawn Zulueta and Ariel Rivera. “Nakapag-direct na ako para sa TV, pero ang dami ko pang mali. Nung mag-e-edit na ako, wala na akong material. Nung nag-shoot kasi ako, eksakto lang. Lesson learned: dapat pala ang dami mo talagang dapat [i-shoot]…” – Jocelyn Dimaculangan (READ MORE)
  • Ekstra, The Bit Player (2013) – “…We screened the edited materials of the film yesterday (without the ending) and the performance of the entire cast is something we are so proud of. Nobody was trying to upstage anyone. It was team work – pure and simple. A brilliant cast!!! I ended up with tears on my eyes – because I could not stop laughing and laughing with how the story was unfolding, with so many hilarious real life incidents that an ekstra has to go through. Then again, without knowing it, I found myself in tears, and this time for a different reason — because of the atrocities that TV production people have to face due to the economics of the industry, the people at the bottom of the line like the extras often end up having to bear the brunt. Time for a wake up call maybe?…” – Mario Bautista, Showbiz Portal, 18 Mar 2013 (READ MORE)

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