Indie to Iron Man - Where good movies come from
I think I need to start this article by letting you know of a movie I saw the other day. It came out in 1977 called Star Wars. I just don't know if many people have heard about it. I don't think many people have seen it, but you should consider it. It’s a pretty good movie. Also, there have been a couple movies since this one came out. I guess there have been seven movies from this franchise.
A conversation that would simply never happen.
Look at this picture. In 1983, 90% of American media was owned by 50 companies. In 2011 (before Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012) that same 90% were owned by 6 companies. It works this way with most businesses.The sharks eat the minnows, then they eat each other. Soon you have nothing but large sharks left. Disney is probably the most public example of this in recent cinema history.
2006 Disney bought Pixar
2009 Disney bought Marvel
2012 Disney bought Lucasfilm
Time Warner, Comcast, CBS, they all work the same way. The strong get stronger and the weak get eaten by the strong. Is this bad? Good? Or both?
Star Wars, Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers, Frozen, Toy Story - All Disney. A large shark.
Jurassic Park, Straight Outta Compton, Rush, Kick-Ass, Despicable Me, Les Misérables, ET - All Universal. A large shark.
Wolf on Wall street, Rise of the Guardians, Interstellar, Top Gun, Mission Impossible - All Viacom. A large shark.
In all/most of these cases these are considered ‘good’ movies. Both critically and based on box-office, people enjoy these movies. Jurassic Park, the MCU, Interstellar, Top Gun, Mission Impossible - all wouldn't have been made or wouldn't have been as good as they are without massive amounts of money backing them. The stars, the explosions, the CGI all require cash. So, in this case the big sharks getting bigger are a great thing! That settles it! Blockbusters are better.
You’ve heard of Mad Max: Fury road. You know, that action movie with very little dialog that was nominated for best picture in 2016? The movie that brilliantly combined practical effects and CGI to create a visual masterpiece. Did you know the original Mad Max movie was an independent film with a small budget? It was the movie that made it possible for George Miller, a 70 year old man, to get the money to create a weird and daring Fury Road.
Do you like “found footage” movies? The movies that seem like they are filmed on a home video camera. Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, Project Almanac, Chronicle, movies like that. Well, this phenomenon was started by what most people consider the best found footage movie ever- The Blair Witch Project. This ground breaking horror movie was the first found footage movie ever made. It is also an independent film with a budget of $35,000 and filmed on a camera from Wal-Mart.
Do you like the Dark Knight trilogy? The one directed by Christopher Nolan. Do you like Inception or Interstellar? None of those would have been directed by Mr. Nolan if he didn't make the BRILLIANT film Memento. It was ground breaking in twisting the art of constructing a narrative. This was Christopher Nolan’s first theatrical release and was a low budget independent film.
Sideways, The Usual Suspect, Clerks, the first Terminator, Donnie Darko, Reservoir Dogs - All independent films with small budgets. These are some of the most influential movies in recent history. Now we run into the question - Do we need lots of money to make good movies? The answer to that question HAS to be no. We just answered it. So! That’s it. We don't need big companies and large amounts of money to make good movies.
That’s how a lot of independent movie lovers would end their article. Simply proving that we don't need these big companies. How these companies are destroying the art of movie making and storytelling. How all we get these days are remakes because it’s business men wanting to invest in a proven story rather than risk a new idea. How the politics of these large businesses are ruining the film industry. And I bet these indie lovers write these articles on their Apple computers. The reality is, there are two sides of the coin. I would challenge any and all of you to give both the small indie film and the big blockbuster a chance. There have been both kinds of films that have been large influences in my life.
Thanks for reading (for real this time)
These articles helped me gain a new perspective as I wrote this article