With film franchises like Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc., taking up much of the public's attention when it comes to movies, will independently made films ever be able to compete and hold a grasp on society the way it used to? It's a question that's been asked by film and TV. critics many times.
Initiatives like the Kino film festival founded by independent filmmaker Vincent Valentino, the festival helps people interested in filmmaking, no matter what their prior background, make films and get them played in front of potential producers and agents. It provides them with the skills and connections to stay in the industry permanently if they wish, fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education and Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Though the existence of film franchises does make it harder for independent films to gain as much attention as film franchises, the tools for them to attract that attention are still very much available and increasing according to Vladimir Jean-Gilles, aka Don Ayiti, a film critic for CBC.
"It [independent films] can survive in certain medias. Independent film can definitely still survive the modern entertainment market, but they need to adjust… to these kinds of things," he said in an interview with Arts Help, referring to the riding availability of new technologies.
Jean-Gilles says that he believes a collaboration between independent filmmakers and independent movie theaters would be a good way to support independent filmmakers to help them be able to keep making movies and get enough public viewership for their creations.
It would also help keep movie theaters in business. Especially since, according to independent filmmaker Tim Hoare, putting an independent film through to theaters can be very expensive but profitable for both parties if done right.
However, in an interview with Arts Help, independent filmmaker Sean Parker said that much of the process of getting a movie to be shown in theaters depends on the marketing of the movie and how well it convinces people to go to movie theaters to see it.
Movie theatres depend on the public to physically be at or in the movie theaters. Though with movie theatres struggling to maintain an audience, with the presence of streaming services, he says getting a movie to show in theaters is a risky move.
"If a theatres is sitting empty for more than a day or two, then they might decide to just pull the plug and say, 'we're gonna get something else in there that's gonna generate some interest and put some bodies in seats.'"
On top of that, movie theatres also take a cut out of the movie's box office earnings. With the struggle movie theatres are facing attracting people to their environment, Parker says that though it is a ‘bang for your buck’ if it succeeds, it doesn't usually work out well for either party if it fails.
Though there are some independent films that costed millions of dollars to make, Hoare says that many Independent films are often low budget. with independent filmmakers usually paying out of their own pocket to make them.
"Most independent movies are movies you'll never ever hear about, and some of them make money,” said Hoare.
Hoare says that though geography can play a factor in how a film ends up, i:e, whether it's close to areas more prominently known in the film business, many Independent films don't necessarily have the budget that blockbusters do to help them out with marketing and publicity.
"When you're at this price level, you can't afford the top talent," said Hoare. “So you just really hope that you get a magic cast and crew and that everybody does their job great and if you can, then you have something that people believe when they watch. Even at an independent level, you have a good product. Still, nobody will see it maybe, but if they do, they'll enjoy it."
Despite this, Hoare believes that independent film will still remain culturally relevant to this world because it reflects the world as it is and lets viewers reflect on the world around them.
Another venue where independent filmmakers can display their works is by putting their films through a ‘festival run.’ In other words, displaying their films at various film festivals, either local, regional or international.
Film festivals often depend on funding from either a certain organization or directly from the public. According to an article titled The Economics of Film Festivals, written by Amelia Josephson for finance consulting company SmartAsset, this usually is through festival ticket sales. Josephsin's article also mentions how some festivals rely on corporate sponsorships to keep themselves going.
According to Hoare, this dependence on public or organizational funding can also depend on geographical area placement as well. Mainly if the area the festival is located in places that see financial importance in the arts. In places where that might not be the case, festivals can be at risk of going under. Festival organizations can also face events that may force them to put festivals on hold.
The pandemic’s role in this is evident, as it was during the pandemic that streaming services really started to become the way that films were viewed in a world where going to places in person was a risk.
According to Valentino, streaming services may even begin to take over festivals as a way for filmmakers getting noticed. There is so much content being shown at a festival, chances of getting noticed mostly depend on marketing yourself as a filmmaker and, by extension, marketing your movie.
"It feels good when you've been accepted into [a] festival. But it's really about being there and talking to people and getting your name out there rather than the actual content of your film."
Valentino still believes that festivals like Kino are good places for beginner filmmakers bringing new talent into an industry that is sometimes accused of being rigid to change.