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February 22 at 11:26am

Is Indie Film The New Wal-Mart?

By Ted Hope

Beanie Barnes has a MUST READ post up on Salon “America’s Next Wal-Mart: The Indie Film Industry“. Although Beanie primarily focuses on over-supply/grand abundance as the primary problem, the link-filled post captures many of the challenges we all now face — especially sustainability on a personal level. And the article is not just problem-picking complaining either, but also offers some alternative approaches, recognizing both the need for leadership from our institutions and a more community-based approach. 

“If there were a magic formula, then we’d see more films being more successful and more film industry employees making living wages. The big question facing the industry is how to generate and sustain economic value — without sacrificing artistic value — in an industry where steadily shrinking profits are privatized while growing costs/losses are increasingly socialized.

Perhaps the answer lies in film institutes and filmmaking organizations collaborating to establish a network of talent labs/incubators where talent is developed in-house, the majority of top film festivals’ admissions are films developed within the network, and top distributors commit to purchasing movies made in the network. Perhaps it lies in top film festivals developing an accreditation system or trade union, discouraging the existence of festivals that do little more than collect submission fees and dole out digital laurels like candy. Perhaps it lies in top film institutions refocusing filmmakers on development – placing an emphasis on screenwriting, talent labs and a return to making short films. Perhaps it lies in updated vertical integration models inspired by the old studio system — say what you will about the old system, but everyone working within it got paid and lots of great films got made. And perhaps none of these suggestions hold the answer, but we need ideas because, whatever the answer is, it can’t simply be to unquestioningly make more features.”

It covers many bases, so make sure you read the whole thing!

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  1. Out in the Street Films / Feb 22 at 11:26am

    It’s the new Wal-mart because we don’t make it the new Met. If you want to get paid, you have to bill the client.

  2. chrisdorr / Feb 22 at 11:26am

    The argument she advances is very wrong headed. There can never be an over supply of creative media, be it poems, songs, short stories, novels, plays, web series, TV series, short films or feature films. All we should ask is that the voices that find expression be good–from whatever source. Let us not have one Shakespeare, let us have many. No voice should be denied their chance to be heard in any creative medium. To say otherwise is to propose censorship.

  3. Out in the Street Films / Feb 22 at 11:26am

    Perhaps the problem is not too many films. It’s just too many films that get some kind of distribution, therefore crowding the marketplace with many very similar sorts of films. In the end they are lost in the milieu anyway. We remain unaware of all these films without someone pointing them out. And even then if they don’t intrigue us, we never see them. It seems the only people who notice this overcrowding of films are filmmakers vying for more exposure, or perhaps reviewers tasked with giving it to them.

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