Indie Corner


By • Nov 22nd, 2011 •

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I’ve been watching a lot of films submitted to me by talented film-makers, who usually make genre films (horror or science fiction) on zero budgets.   I make films with budgets lower than a pregnant ant, so I can relate.    What bothers me is that most of these film-makers make films that are imitating Hollywood successes. 
       One film that comes to mind is Florida based Writer/Director Michael Clinkenbeard’s Nightfall.   The film centers on a group of friends gathering for a backyard Memorial Day Bar-B-Q.  Newscasts off the living room TV tell of a sudden shower of destructive meteors.  One lands near the house, nearly wrecking the place.  Our barbequing heroes soon learn from the TV broadcasts that these meteors are a “vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars.”  Recognize the wording?   It’s from Orson Welles’ famed 1938 The War of the Worlds radio broadcast.  In fact, Clinkenbeard’s TV newscasters here often recite the same dialog from the ’38 broadcast.   You would think Welles deserves a writing credit here.   The film feels too much like Cloverfield (both films have a big alien attack covered via hand-held home video camera), The Blair Witch Project (both films have mucho off camera monsters) and Night of the Living Dead (housebound monster-attack survivors arguing a course of action).    Nightfall sometimes has a genuine sense of claustrophobia.  You want his heroes to survive as unhurt as possible.  Clinkenbeard has potential for making Grade A horror, but he needs to stray from mimicking what Hollywood, and past indie directors have done.   George Romero made a name for himself because he took rules and clichés of Hollywood horror storytelling and kicked them down the stairs. 
       Film-maker Daron Ker’s documentary I Ride is a fascinating, heartfelt look at the more constructive side of American Biker culture.   After watching this constantly informative film, you learn bikers rise above the stereotype of drunken, bearded road-ragers with scary mammary-flashing wives.  We learn that many bikers are constructive members of society, who will even hold benefits to raise money to battle diabetes.   This film unearthed a long lost memory out of my head.  Forty years ago, my mother, my sister Wendy and myself (then a kid of about ten) were traveling along the Florida Keys.  We stopped at a Howard Johnsons for breakfast, only to find out the employees had all walked off their job, leaving many customers and us abandoned and hungry.  A biker gang pulled up, expecting quick service.  When they heard about the walkout, the bikers became waiters and waitresses, took our orders and served our food.  Other than oddball mix-ups like my orange juice served in a parfait glass, the food was fine.  I kept a permanent positive image about bikers.    If you have never been served breakfast by a biker gang, I recommend I Ride as a terrific eye-opening look at biker culture.

       Financially, independent film is slipping into an Ice Age.   The festivals and independent theatre chains cater mostly to indies made within the industry – directed by leading Hollywood actors and actresses.   This leaves true indies scrambling for venues to show our films, and to bring in a profit.   In fact, I just spoke to one independent film-maker who has won several international film festival awards, only to find out she has sold most of her possessions and furniture in order to keep her film playing at festivals.  This makes getting investors for your indie film production feel like a lost cause. 
       Many film-makers have successfully gathered production money by using sites like Kickstater and IndieGoGo.    Instead of offering a percentage in the film profits (which mostly likely won’t happen), a film project listed on one of these sites can offer real gifts for contributing.   For example, a film-maker can offer for a $ 25 investment, a copy of the finished film.    For a larger investment, let’s say of $700 to perhaps $10,000, a film-maker can offer invitations to the wrap-party, a piece of one-of-a-kind artwork associated with the film, a meet-and-greet with the film’s stars, or you or your business can make an appearance in the film.    According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, IndieGoGo has funded more than 24,000 projects since 2008.   According to the same article, in October 2011, The House Financial Services Committee backed legislation that would make it possible for small businesses to use “crowd funding” sources like IndieGoGo to raise money from percentage-sharing investors. 

       I welcome feed-back, and requests to review films.  I can be directly contacted through my e-mail address or on my Facebook Page. 

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