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David Poland

By David Poland

Hot Button – The Indie Thing

There have been very good

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12 Responses to “Hot Button – The Indie Thing”

  1. The Pope says:

    Aware that what I am about to type may read as utterly sycophantic, but at times like these I am reminded as to why I visit this website (and occasionally throw in some comments).
    Other sights mostly present and invite polemics and although this one presents those as well, right now, David you have something that is more considered.
    I agree: this really can’t be the end of the indies. Haven’t they been around since the beginning of cinema, via Griffith and UA and, although they faded considerably in the 30s, after the war, the Anti-trust laws ensured that they rose again. The studio breakdown in the sixties paved the way for the indies and then, just when the blockbuster seemed to have put them in a pool and drowned them in concrete, along came Jarmusch and sex, lies.
    But seriously, the argument is a bit tiresome and silly at this stage. Ever since someone I think it was Robert Evans who asked independent of what… people have been banging the drum. No one is independent. The money comes from somewhere. And eventually it can be traced back to or through Rupert… or Reliance… or Riyadh…
    I think it comes down to whether a filmmaker has secured a space for themselves in which they can be CREATIVELY independent… i.e., where their film is more a product of their collaboration with fellow artists … or whether the film is a result of meddling.

  2. T. Holly says:

    The studios should have been purchasing the exhibitors all along. Now it’s distributors stangleholding the film business instead of the studios working with independents to mutually seed theatres. There are so many ways to put bundle butts in seats and none of them are available except the worldwide tentpole strategy.

  3. mutinyco says:

    I dunno about you, but I’m in the mood for some soft Corinthian Leather!

  4. T. Holly says:

    Make that “bundle butts” not “put bundle butts” — and tentpoles include Mamma Mia! which will perform somewhere between Pretty Woman and Titanic.

  5. Chucky in Jersey says:

    It’s not being promoted as a tentpole. A movie that aims older and/or upmarket can hardly be considered a tentpole.
    T.H is on to something about working “to mutually seed theaters”. The Bollywood circuit is an excellent example. Other ethnic titles like “Under the Same Moon” prove this true.

  6. Roman says:

    Does this mean that ABBA is now bigger than the Beatles (Across the Universe)?
    And no, I’m only being quarter serious.

  7. T. Holly says:

    Sorry Dave, but your people need to be schooled.
    No one mentioned US. v. Paramount 1948. It’s ok to own a tv network but not a movie theatre. That rule outlived its usefullness. Exhibitors… I got no words for you.

  8. Direwolf says:

    From my Wall Street perspective this is an exceptionally good piece. Well done, DP.
    As you were discussing the number of releases and screens, one thing I thought you might mention is the massive number of screens the weekly blockbusters occupy. That is screens not theatres.
    Do you think that opening a preordained blockbuster on several screens per multiplex has contributed to tough times for indies as those screens are lost as outlets?

  9. doug r says:

    I was listening to Adam Carolla talk about The Hammer. They spent close to a million bucks, including IIRC about $15,000 a print for about 35 prints. They ended up grossing about $445,000. They should break even on DVD-but why is it so hard for a picture that is aparently “surprisingly good” (I wouldn’t know, because I never got a chance to see it) to get distributed.

  10. Roman, I’d suggest that jukebox musicals are bigger than phychadelic throwbacks (successful or not)

  11. and by “successful” i mean “good quality” and “well made”.

  12. Chucky in Jersey says:

    The 1948 consent decree was relaxed by the Reagan government in the 80’s. As a result Columbia Pictures was able to buy into Loews Theatres. More recently National Amusements used its Viacom division to buy Paramount.
    As to blockbusters freezing out indies in a megaplex? In a recession most megaplexes (16+ screens) are gonna stay with mainstream fare, period.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon