Film school can be such a drag - being forced to write papers on such subjects as "The Gaze-Object-Gaze Dialectic in Eisensteinian Russian Film", having to hear (again!) how Cahiers du Cinema changed the f-ing world, and, perhaps worst of all, having to sit next to the dude who still thinks Tarantino is God.
It's a tough row to hoe, and at the end of the whole process the big budget project you're most likely to produce is a huge pile of student loan debt. Still, it could be worse. You could be a student filmmaker in Iraq.
Independent film is neither independent nor film. Discuss.
But while you're thinking that through lemme tell you about REAL indie film:
I went out to a screening of my friends' (and new producing partners') film American Cannibal at Galapagos art space here in Brooklyn the other night. It's a doc about the making of a reality TV show and premiered at Tribeca last year. The Monday night crowd numbered somewhere around 15 to 20 at the most. There was a loud, obnoxious, not-so-funny stand-up comedy show going on in the next room while the filmmakers and I tried to meet about our upcoming project and not watch their film for the four thousandth time. The film-watching audience drank beer and enjoyed and stuck around for an interesting Q&A afterward. Now when's the last time Scorcese experienced some dumpy-assed theatre with a meager yet passionate showing for one of his films like that!? Hunh!? Now THAT'S independent! (AUTHOR'S NOTE: if you're reading this Mr. Scorcese please note that I'm just playing the role of indie maverick and I really do love your work and think you rock and really could use financing for my next film so don't take any of this seriously and be sure to check out my website www.PlugUglyFilms.com and let's do lunch at Nobu soon?)
The next evening I went off to the first enstallment of Naked Angels' Tuesday's at 9 script reading series which was packed with around 100 desperate and frothing actors being matched up with writers to do cold readings. Some of the material and actors were actually pretty damn good. Very few of these actors are actually working though (hence their presence on a Tuesday at 9). Thanks middle America for loving "Project Next American Jerk Off With No Talent but Nice Tits Who Can Sure Get Drunk on Camera and Act Like a Jackass Bitch of an Idol" so much that narratives have gone the way of the DoDo bird and people with talent are spending more and more time earning money at desk jobs while big name stars take the few roles available to them so they too can work and so brilliant shows like Arrested Development can be cancelled for lack of blockbuster viewership. Not that I'm bitter...
Okay, so let's get back to the subject at hand: Independent film. Not independent and not film. Discuss.
I know this has been keeping you all up at night, so I wanted to give you a status report:
I AM NOW IN 5TH PLACE WITH MY CELEBRITY LEAGUE!!! Yep, after a week in the cellar, my team has made a monster comeback. I knew I wasn't wrong to put my faith in Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, and Ashton Kutcher. And getting the warring MacCartneys was pure genius. My only complaint is that I have Sean "Diddy" Combs and he hasnt' had the good taste to be arrested for anything all month! Come on! What rapper doesn't get arrested on a regular basis (o.k., maybe one).
Sadly, I don't have Naomi Campbell, so there went a bunch of points for whomever she's beaten down now (and I hope I'm not next). Others I missed out on? Well, you can't win this game without LiLo (if you don't know, now you know). She seems hell bent on being the greatest points earner in the history of time. Nary a day goes by without her doing something/one and making the papers. Yeah, I'm really salty that I coulda had her (how many people have said that?) and I didn't. Dang. And to think that I still love watching her version of The Parent Trap. Where or where did THAT girl go?
So, here's wishing that my luck holds. I have no delusions of winning 1st place (see Lilo reference) but any gains I make (and not fall) validate me as a kick a$$ starf*cker! My mom would be so proud!
Spirit nominee Crash had a $7 million dollar budget, and Brokeback Mountain's was $14 million. I realize these don't quite compare to Scorsese's $90 million re-make, but as far as I'm concerned, these three films are exactly the same: The overwhelming majority of indie filmmakers will never, ever make a movie with anywhere near any one of those budgets, so why are any of them up for "indie" awards?
One reason: IFP and FIND are starfuckers.
But I don't blame either organization. I blame the media, the advertisers, and the public.
The shows understand that the press wouldn't cover them and the advertisers wouldn't support them if they just featured a bunch of unknown films with no one famous in them. But more importantly, neither would these independent film purists who are now demanding Michelle Byrd's head.
If people really cared about low budget films, why don't they go to them? Why do filmmakers have to deliver "names" in order to get anyone off the internet and out of their houses? Likewise, why do film organizations like IFP and FIND have to fill their panels with the biggest stars in the indie community? Does Joe Filmmaker really need to hear about foreign co-production deals, gap financing, and how to make a movie with only a million in equity? He's gonna make his film with a roll of duct tape, a credit card, and a Costco membership. They do it because no one wants to hear anything that will really help them. They just want to hear something from somebody who gets their picture taken.
I realize this may sound disingenous coming from someone who works for the organization that represents the most obvious objects of starfucking. But the vast majority of the members of SAG are not stars. Like the true indie filmmakers, they're just a bunch of artists who want to tell stories and do good work. A lot of them could win awards... if they could just afford to shoot more than one take per set up. It would be nice if films could stand on their merits alone. But you just can't compare an independent film with all the resources to an independent film with none. The indie awards shows (and the film festivals, for that matter) should be all about the people who struggle and have some small success. But they aren't... because no one would come.
So don't get down on IFP. We're all responsible.
No matter how much you're looking forward to the new Borat movie, you're probably getting sick of the wall to wall marketing for the thing. We're no different - in fact, yesterday Eliza spent a good deal of time and energy (energy usually expended on pounding my sorry carcass in chess) carping about the media saturation Borat's "movie film" has achieved.
Overkill is the definitely the word. Still, there are some relatively under-exposed bits of information (only tangentially related to Borat, perhaps) that lurk beneath the glossy surface of the ubiquitous efforts of Fox Corp.'s grimly determined marketers.
Today's Slate contains one such tidbit of information in their popular Explainer section: How did the producers of Borat get those people to agree to be in the movie? It's an interesting read, and it gets bonus points for contributions from our good friend (and indie film legal guru) Mark Litwak.
SAGIndie is happy to announce that we've just launched our brand new Diversity Screening Series web site. It's chock full of Web 2.0, AJAX-y goodness, so please drop by for news, screening schedules, and to sign-up for news alerts, so you can be the first to hear about future events.
(note: SAGIndie in no way endorses any kind of gambling, betting, or vicious bad-wishing on any one, not even rag-of-the-week mongering celebrities)
So I have a new obsession. A group of virtual friends and I have joined in on the newest dance craze. Just when the all important fantasy football leagues can take over your life, there's a new game in town, and it is FUN!!! It's a Fantasy Celebrity League. That's right, now you can profit from celebrities bad and otherwise behavior. Check it out! You set it up like any league, all the players pick team names and you list the celebrities that you'd like to draft. On draft day, the website DRAFTS FOR YOU, based on your list! It's that easy. After that, you sit back and let the celebrities do what they do, and you gain points. For basic mentions in the 10-15 mags, e-mags, etc. that they check every day, you get 1 point. Celebrity fights and romance rumors get 2 points, while juicier tidbits like pregnancy can earn you 7 points. The highest score is 10 points for a BOMBSHELL, be it death or something else no one could predict. Happily, I haven't seen any 10 points yet.
Now that I've talked about this like it's sliced bread, I have to confess. I'm in last place in my league. I know, it's crazy. I think it's because I was being too smart for my britches and using information like; Scarlett Johannson has a movie coming out and Matt Damon doesn't do a lot of press or partying. What I SHOULD have been doing is just grabbing up the Lindsay Lohans and Paris Hiltons of the celebrity world and watch as they constantly do stuff that people talk (bad) about. So I've learned my lesson. I knew Eddie Murphy wasn't done spreading his seed around, but Scary Spice - that's a shocker.
So what are you waiting for? Join a league and you too can be anxiously sitting in front of the TV at 7pm waiting for Entertainment Tonight to drop a bomb about which star's nasty divorce may, or may not, have to do with the nanny!!! Does it get any better than that?