Hollywood will always exist and with it the production techniques associated with large budget films. This is where independent filmmaking comes in.
It's a bit like this: A large civil road construction project can cost tens of millions. The actual cost of the sand, asphalt and cement costs a fraction of the total amount. Even when you add the salaries of the labourers who do the balance of the actual work, the total is still far less than the total so-called budget.
So where does all the money go? In construction it goes to consultancy fees. In independent film the filmmakers absorb the soft costs, the consultancy fees and cane deliver quality product far cheaper than their Hollywood colleagues. Because an independent filmmaker cannot throw money at a filmmaking problem indies have learned to become resourceful and cost-effective.
It is in the realm of independent filmmaking that many new cinematic innovations take place. Cinema verite is one example of a filmmaking style that is not only cost effective but has a certain feel and look that suits certain larger budget films like Paul Greengrass’ United 93.
Hollywood is not a filmmaking industry – it is a marketing industry. As marketeers Hollywood is unrivalled. Hollywood knows how to gauge audience responses and then to deliver content which it is able to monetise.
The main distinction between Hollywood and independents has nothing to do with filmmaking however. Hollywood is not a filmmaking industry – it is a marketing industry. As marketeers Hollywood is unrivalled. Hollywood knows how to gauge audience responses and then to deliver content which it is able to monetise. Of course, delivering the content is something outside of the reach of independents as Hollywood controls most of the distribution channels. Hollywood also has the financial resources to create huge marketing and advertising campaigns for their product. This is evident each winter with the Oscars – a giant industry slap-on-the-back which further increases the audience awareness of their films.
In the 1990’s I saw the rise of the internet and was hopeful that independent filmmakers could use this new medium to distribute their films. Some have succeeded. But Hollywood wasn’t going to let this cheap and effective medium pass by. Now we have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube and a host of other distribution platforms proving once again the little ones will be squeezed out by the big ones.
Depressing you might say? Or is it another opportunity for filmmakers working outside the so-called Hollywood system to create a goose that lays the golden egg.
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