We've Got Hollywood Covered

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job! (If You Have One)

Let’s reclaim the term ”independent filmmaking“ and return it to what it was meant to be

In the three and a half weeks that have passed since I launched my blog, your comments, the many offline conversations I’ve had with folks and my own internal dialogue have inspired and enabled me to sharpen my focus and better define for myself and for you what I hope to accomplish.

I’m going to set out a short list of my objectives below, but first I wanted to try and clarify one point. I’ve written more than once that commerce has no role — or at least should be the absolute last thought rather than the first, second or 10th — in the independent filmmaking process. And every time I write that, I get mild to extreme blow-back. "How do we get the next film made if we don’t make money on the first? How do we pay back our investors?" Stuff like that.

Here’s the thing. If you’re asking those questions, then you’re not who I’m talking to. In any case, I’m not attempting to convince you to stop trying to make money or raise hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars or be the next Brett Ratner or suck Harvey Weinstein’s cock.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that and I’m not challenging your desire or your right to take that very bumpy, lonely, compromising, heartbreaking, distasteful road. I even wish you success and hope you get to live the dream. You’re not my target audience, though, so don’t take offense.

But I don’t want you to walk away. I’d love it if you’d stick around and let us know how things are going and actively participate in the conversation.

The one thing I’ll ask is that you stop calling what you’re doing "independent filmmaking" because it’s not and it isn’t fair to those who can really benefit by working under the protection of its warm, moist, nurturing and encouraging life force. What you’re doing — and I’m not saying it’s wrong or bad — is dependent and co-dependent. But it’s awesome. And I want to be your friend.

Peace out.

Now, in a nutshell, here’s my current thinking …

1. Lead the charge in reclaiming the intensely prized and valuable label “independent film” from those who long ago co-opted it from the independent film community that had labored tirelessly, selflessly and for decades in its name.

2. Encourage the scores of independent filmmakers across the globe, especially those who would never otherwise pick up a camera because of oppressive, discouraging misinformation spread mostly by the media who continue to frame high-budget, star vehicles as "independent," to grab that camera out of the closet and share their thoughts and passions with the rest of us. (Zachary Oberzan being a prime example of what’s possible when you don’t allow anything or anyone to dampen your spirit or quash your dreams.)

3. Build a platform similar to the one I built at Gigantic Digital in order to intelligently and with focus provide a nurturing, stimulating and, above all, visible community environment through which to help deliver this compelling content to the world.

The winning back of the Independent label will, I believe, happen largely organically as we together work to accomplish point No. 2 and I (sooner than later) make point No. 3 a reality.

In the meantime, I don’t how many of you were exposed to the thread of comments initiated by the irritable and anonymous "doghouse," but I’m going to take his challenge and begin shooting a documentary about Zack Oberzan in full Zack Oberzan style: By any means necessary.

I’m shooting with Zack later on today and plan to share the experience and footage in order to engage you guys in the process and make you co-creators in a sense. That’s a concept that I’ll be writing about and drilling down on more in the near future and one I hope you’ll be excited by and participate in.

Lighting fires together!

Mark Lipsky's Insight Cinema offers domestic and international distributors, producers and filmmakers advice on digital strategies and audience development among other issues. He blogs at InciteCinema, a plug-and-play solution for American independents and filmmakers around the globe who wish to either bypass or enhance traditional bricks-and-mortar release strategies.