Following up on my “Regional Film Festivals are where the discoveries are” column yesterday, I wanted to float the following idea that I came up with during this just concluded Sundance trip:
Is the Amazonianzation and Netflixication of independent film basically just the latest “reset” of what we used to think of as the hierarchy of studio films versus independent films?
Remember a few years ago, when there were stories in the press and discussion of the demise of the mid-budgeted studio drama or comedy? The conversation went something along the lines of people bemoaning the fact that studios had no interest in that business model as everything was being geared toward blockbusters with huge budgets that either featured costumed superheroes, spectaculars, continuations, revivals, or creation of tentpole films, etc. Therefore, there was less and less room at the inn for a thoughtful drama or romantic comedy that starred a couple of top line movie stars.
The IFP Spirit Awards and Sundance have increasingly been dominated by films that are independent in name or intent only. A $30 million dollar movie technically could be described as “independent” since it hadn’t been developed by or financed at a studio, but no one is kidding anyone regarding the reality of what is going on there.
And now the next step in the resetting of the filmscape: Amazon and Netflix either pre-finance or swoop in and take as many of these star-driven, healthy budgeted indies, as they can fit into their overhead compartments of the planes flying them out of Park City.
Which means, the truly independent films, the ones surviving by crowdfunding, begging, borrowing, and stealing, and featuring talent in front of and behind the camera that hasn’t caught the eye of a TMZ or image-crafting manager or publicist quite yet, will be found at….wait for it…
Regional film festivals.
Yeah. That’s what I’m thinking. That’s what it looks like on the surface, as far as the optics are concerned. Admittedly, I’m a champion of the regional fests, so maybe the hard data doesn’t bear me out. But that is how I’m seeing it.
How are you seeing it?