In this video, Ricky Camilleri, Christopher Rosen, Michael Tully, Brent Lang, and Mike Ryan with Huff Post Live discuss the Independent Spirit Awards and its dominant winner, “Silver Linings Playbook”. They ask the question “What makes a film an Independent Film?”
Now, everyone’s definition of ‘Independent’ is different. Some talk about budget or relation to major studios, others talk about the marketability of the names involved. In the beginning of this video, the latter seems to be their biggest concern.
I have a serious problem with that argument. And my reasoning is in the numbers. The estimated budget for “Silver Linings Playbook” was $21 Million. Robert de Niro’s pay for “Little Fockers” was $20 Million. That alone would only leave $1 Million left. Jennifer Lawrence recieved $10 Million for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and Bradley Cooper got $5 Million for “The Hangover Part II”. Now, what does that tell us, Mike?
I’ll tell you what it tells us, readers. That tells us that these actors believed in this film so much that they waived several million dollars of pay that their past work tells us they could get from several other projects just to work on this film. Now, I don’t know their exact pay, but it obviously isn’t what they have been paid for other projects. They filmed in Philly, and being from Philly I know that doesn’t come terribly cheap. Tax incentives here are good, but not fantastic.
So yes, this movie had big names. Yes, it had a big budget as far as other independent films go. But I believe the “Independent Spirit” is in the attitude towards the film. Are they in it for the money? Or are they in it because they truly believe in the film they are working on to be something great?
I believe for these actors and filmmakers, the latter answers that question.
Then they continue to say that the films at the Independent Spirit should be for films made with one persons vision in mind. How do they know that this film wasn’t one persons vision? To me, these people are cynical hipsters who don’t like anything popular. And that’s fine and all, but who are they to say that “Silver Linings Playbook” wasn’t someone’s “baby”, as a teacher of mine would have said. Just because it found the mainstream doesn’t mean it didn’t start off as something completely different.
These guys constantly contradict themselves throughout as well. They talk about how “The Master” is an Independent Film because the financial backer of it believed in it so much, that she gave her own money for the film. By the way, “The Master” was made for $32 Million and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, actors who are just as marketable to the stars of “Silver Linings Playbook”
Apparently, they don’t want films that have the ability to be marketed and sold to count towards Independent Spirit Awards either. They just want movies no one has heard of and will never hear of to count. Don’t get me wrong, I love low budget, low fan base movies as well.But if that were the case, the only filmmakers being nominated for this award would be students right out of college and squatters in Manhattan who happen to have a camera.
Cynicism angers me so. I apologize for ranting. Just ignore me.