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What are your favorite independent films?


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#1 -Wade-

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Posted January 14, 2014 - 10:11 PM

What are some of your favorite indies? No Hollywood/studio please.

 

 

 

 

I think the film critic Emanuel Levy sums up the criteria for what an independent film consists of rather well.

 

 

 

Summary: Independent film is...

 

  • Two different conceptions of independent film can be found. One is based on the way indies are financed, the other focuses on their spirit or vision.

  • The most important thing when a filmmaker says he is an independent, is that somebody cannot beat him into a pulp and force him to make a movie that the financier wants. (Art over profit)

  • If there is distribution attached to a film before it’s made, I am not sure how independent it really is.

  • The budget’s size is a criterion too. With this stated, in today’s Hollywood, Chris Hanley’s Muse Productions and James Robinson’s Morgan Creek are both considered independents. Some "low-budget indies" may still cost over $1 million to make under certain circumstances.

  • Those who care about the quality of indies are concerned with the current lack of radically political and avant-garde visions, which had characterized the earlier American independent cinema.

  • Express themselves artistically (self-expressionism over profit)

  • Indies take the kinds of risk that are out of the question in mainstream Hollywood. For this reason, indies may deal with controversial subject matter or culture that the mainstream media would never want to deal with (like queer film in the 90s, black people making love in the 80s, Italian culture in the 70s)

  • A lot of indies are shot with 8mm lens or more "home-style" equipment, as opposed to a 16mm lens or wide angle lens

 

Classic Hollywood

  • Main plot is driven by sub-plots

  • Story consists of balance

  • Music is used to define the scene

  • Lighting is used to reflect mood and atmosphere

  • Seamless editing

  • Satisfying conclusion with most questions answered and no loose ends

Indies

  • There does not need to be a main plot, though there often is one

  • Story may be more spontaneous and chaotic rather than balanced

  • Music is rarely used to set the stage for a scene

  • Lighting is rarely used to reflect mood

  • Conclusions may be abrupt and leave the audience confused, begging for answers

 

So while low-income budgets are a large factor of indies, it is not the defining factor. Mean Streets was made on a $500,000 budget, and though it had distribution, it was no filmed in the studio by ANY means. When you receive financing from Hollywood, there are strings attached--the filmmaker therefore must compromise with their true vision. This limits artistic creativity. Indies are just as much about spirit and the artistic technical methods used, as they are about the budget and distribution. Mean Streets was independent to the core. Scorsese had full artistic control, in contrast to his previous film dealing with the post-Depression era. This lead to the great Cassavetes calling Scorsese's work a "piece of [expletive]," which inspired him to do what he did best: self-expression. This lead to the creation of Mean Streets, whose characters were all based on Scorsese's life events and ideas. Scorsese had the financing and distribution, but his Mean Streets masterpiece is one of the exceptions. He brought the Italian culture to the American mainstream, something Hollywood was afraid to do. Charlie Coppa is literally named after his parents, while a majority of the script was written while Scorsese was driving around in a car. A lot of the dialogue was improv between the actors. This stuff simply does not happen on a studio set. This is why Scorsese is considered one of the most influential filmmakers; his bold vision that is motivated by self-expression.

 

Hollywood wants to top box charts, and in order to do this, they must appeal to the general audience.


Edited by -Wade-, January 19, 2014 - 07:13 PM.

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#2 Lake

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Posted January 14, 2014 - 10:18 PM

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Boogie Nights



#3 BasketballIQ

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Posted January 14, 2014 - 10:19 PM

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#4 Ven

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Posted January 14, 2014 - 10:40 PM

Dazed and Confused

Donnie Darko

Clerks

Ghost Dog

Being John Malkovich



#5 bigfetz

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Posted January 14, 2014 - 11:15 PM

Moon, Little miss sunshine, Napoleon dynamite, primer, paranormal activity. I know there are other but cant remember off the top of my head. 



#6 Marc Maron

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 12:37 AM

The Squid and the Whale

Chungking Express

Rushmore

Reservoir Dogs

Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2

Clerks

Paris, Texas

Hausu

City of God

Amores Perros

Brick


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#7 5thDroog

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 01:08 AM

Amores Perros

Wrist Cutters

Lars and the real girl

Napoleon Dynamite

Submarine

Mean Streets 

Reservoir Dogs

Donnie Darko



#8 last stand 2.0

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 01:33 AM

donnie darko (one of the deepest, complex, rewarding films i've ever seen)

Brick (awesome and really catapulted joseph gordon-levitt into the eye of casting directors across the industry)

rushmore(didn't know that was independent but i love it lol)

following

clerks

my own private idaho (not sure if it qualifies)

memento (not sure if it qualifies)

blue valentine

bronson

dazed and confused

hunger

the blair witch project

the wrestler

winters bone

cube (i don't know why but this movie is enjoyable especially considering the budget)

swingers

 

also about mean streets, it was distributed by warner bros according to IMDB so i'm not sure if it qualifies


Edited by last stand 2.0, January 15, 2014 - 01:34 AM.

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#9 -Wade-

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 02:22 AM

Some fantastic replies in this thread! I really appreciate it, I'm going to watch quite a few of these.


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#10 -Wade-

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 02:27 AM

also about mean streets, it was distributed by warner bros according to IMDB so i'm not sure if it qualifies

 

Many scholars consider Martin Scorses to be one of the founders of modern indie American cinema. I do appreciate your observation, you are correct in stating that not many indie films get distributed (or receive financial backing, for that matter) from Hollywood.


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#11 Tensai

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 06:24 AM

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#12 Mr Terrific

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 08:22 AM

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Edited by Mr Terrific, January 15, 2014 - 08:28 AM.

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#13 Mr Terrific

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 08:30 AM

What are some of your favorite indies? No Hollywood/studio please.
 

Oops. My bad. What many people don't know is that Zach Synder used only 1 camera for the whole movie

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#14 fido

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 11:54 AM

It's funny, so many films people think are "independent" are actually studio pictures done under the umbrella of a smaller subsidiary company to take advantage of the independent label.

 

Often they're done just to cash in on that kind of credential and the public has no idea.

 

last stand: Most of the movies you listed were distributed by major studios, rendering the independent label kinda moot.  It's such a sketchy term any more.  If you've seen it in a major theatre chain more than likely it's not independent whatsoever.  I guess it's more along the lines of who was paying for production.  Sadly, every movie, in order to be successful needs distribution, thus they need the major studios or distributors behind them.  This is why studios are panicking at the thought of Netflix, Hulu and the internet distributing films and people making money and becoming successful without them in the loop.  So they fight digital distribution tooth and nail because they're scared that's the way things are going.

 

And it truly is, which is good for everyone, except the established system.



#15 last stand 2.0

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 01:06 PM

It's funny, so many films people think are "independent" are actually studio pictures done under the umbrella of a smaller subsidiary company to take advantage of the independent label.

 

Often they're done just to cash in on that kind of credential and the public has no idea.

 

last stand: Most of the movies you listed were distributed by major studios, rendering the independent label kinda moot.  It's such a sketchy term any more.  If you've seen it in a major theatre chain more than likely it's not independent whatsoever.  I guess it's more along the lines of who was paying for production.  Sadly, every movie, in order to be successful needs distribution, thus they need the major studios or distributors behind them.  This is why studios are panicking at the thought of Netflix, Hulu and the internet distributing films and people making money and becoming successful without them in the loop.  So they fight digital distribution tooth and nail because they're scared that's the way things are going.

 

And it truly is, which is good for everyone, except the established system.

 

i agree most of them are studio distributed. so was mean streets. i guess it'd be better to consider this a low budget movie discussion


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#16 Lake

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Posted January 15, 2014 - 08:54 PM

You could technically call Pulp Fiction independent as well so I'll throw that into the mix.



#17 AnnoyingCustomer

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Posted January 16, 2014 - 11:52 PM

I disagree - even if a studio buys up a film for distribution, if the film was made outside the studio system with no financial backing from a studio it's an idie film (like Clerks, El Mariachi, etc.)...


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#18 -Wade-

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Posted January 17, 2014 - 12:08 AM

i agree most of them are studio distributed. so was mean streets. i guess it'd be better to consider this a low budget movie discussion

 

I'd rather discuss independent films, because it is still a very real art.

 

Hollywood uses a certain style of camera movements, camera lens, transitional methods (classical Hollywood was seamless), lighting, and budget. Hollywood deals with conventional ideas with the goal of topping the box charts. In order to do this, Hollywood can't target all of the controversial material that independent filmmakers have introduced.

 

Some of the first American independents were in the 70s depending on your view of film history, but American indies didn't go "mainstream" until the 90s when major distributors did start distributing certain independent films. Spike Lee, among a few other directors, paved the road for the prestige of true indies in the 80s.

 

To be clear, many film scholars agree that independent films are films in which the director has complete artistic control. Self-enthusiasm, the demand for visual entertainment, among other factors, push independent films to be what they are.

 

Independent films are much more than simply low-budget films. Here is what Jim Jarmusch has to say on the issue:

 

I know. It's all so . . . independent. I'm so sick of that word. I reach for my revolver when I hear the word 'quirky.' Or 'edgy.' Those words are now becoming labels that are slapped on products to sell them. Anyone who makes a film that is the film they want to make, and it is not defined by marketing analysis or a commercial enterprise, is independent. My movies are kind of made by hand. They're not polished -- they're sort of built in the garage. It's more like being an artisan in some way.

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000464/bio

 

1) Scorsese is one of the most influential film makers of all time

2) Mean Streets is an indie, arguably one of the greatest American indies during its time. It was made on less than $500,000

 

Independent does not equal underground

Independent equals Art--film that is inspired by a vision rather than commercial success


Edited by -Wade-, January 17, 2014 - 12:14 AM.

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#19 Marc Maron

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Posted January 17, 2014 - 01:47 AM

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#20 Mr Terrific

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Posted January 17, 2014 - 07:10 AM

Spielberg made his 1st movie when he was 12 & showed it in a movie theater. Has anybody seen it?

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