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The Broken Indie Film System

I was catching up on my Ted Hope Reading this weekend with the hopes of catching a glimpse of the doom and gloom scenario of the American Indie Film System and low and behold the man did not disappoint.  I found this blog post  on his website about the difficulty of casting an Indie Film.  It takes up roughly 90% of the director’s pre production time because the financing is dependent upon who is the face of your project and what their perceived value is in each and every territory of the world.  The case used to drive the point home was that of Jennifer Lawrence and the irony in the fact that the only reason she was cast in Winter’s Bone (which won her an oscar nomination) was that the filmmakers could not find an actor with a perceived value that supported the $4 million budget, so they were forced to cut the budget in half and cast unknown actors.  Now it is probably an anomaly that in a matter of years Jennifer Lawrence has been able to jump from a small Indie Film to one of the most sought after actresses in the world, but that is hardly the point.

The article is fascinating and goes into way more depth than I am here, so you should definitely give it a read.  My frustration is in the difficulty of making a meaningful piece of art that uses the current Indie Film Business Model. The odds of finding the correct actors for the role that will also satisfy your investor’s risk analysis is pretty slim. Basically, you are either going to have to sacrifice your artistic vision by casting someone who is not perfect for the part or sacrifice your budget by having a film without bankable stars (Often this option puts you in a category where you can’t even make the film).  It’s pretty obvious which way most filmmakers go, cuz I can tell you, in the Indie Film World, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get your film made.  All I can say is there is really nothing independent about American Indie Film.  We are exploring other options and better ways to protect the creative vision from the constraints of the market.  We’ll let you know when we find something. It’s out there somewhere, we just gotta keep digging.

-Chris McGilvray

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