Industry Beat

by Anthony Kaufman

  • Is TV Killing Indie Film?

    Is TV usurping independent film? That was one of the main takeaways in a recent Filmmaker Magazine article written by producer Mike S. Ryan (“TV is Not the New Film”). With veteran producers, writers and directors heading to HBO, Netflix and Amazon in droves; with audiences affixed to the latest show recaps; and with film festival programmers dedicating more slots to episodic storytelling, it sure seems so. But if you talk to working indie-film professionals, the question appears to be slightly off the mark. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking whether long-form storytelling is supplanting indie film, but how it’s enabling…  Read more

    On Oct 28, 2015
    By on Oct 28, 2015Columns
  • Theatrical 2.0

    Releasing movies in U.S. theaters isn’t going away anytime soon. But indie film distribution is experiencing a significant tipping of the scales. While theatrical distribution has always been an advertisement for foreign sales and ancillary platforms, like VHS and then DVD, a new wave of film companies are shifting the balance even further, where theatrical distribution is a means to a digital end. As Vincent Scordino, senior vice president of marketing at rising distributor Alchemy says, “Ancillary platforms have always been important to a film’s profitability, but now we’re talking about them more with the rise of iTunes and the…  Read more

    On Jul 23, 2015
    By on Jul 23, 2015Columns
  • A Rising Tide?

    In a sure sign that the U.S. economy is improving, Wal-Mart employees and union actors in low-budget movies received an approximate 25 percent wage hike earlier this year. Across the country, companies like McDonald’s and many U.S. states are also raising workers’ pay. Such positive economic indicators should be cause for celebration, but for low-budget filmmakers, they signal a more expensive world in which to do business. As prolific producer Jay Van Hoy (The Witch) says, “It’s inflation, you know.” While inflationary expenses won’t severely impact medium-budgeted independent films, rising costs could imperil the vast number of micro-budget productions, which…  Read more

    On Apr 28, 2015
    By on Apr 28, 2015Columns
  • Hits & Misses 2014

    Like the growing income gap in the United States, the indie film world has become increasingly divided between richer and poorer. While Sundance 2014 alumni such as Boyhood and A Most Wanted Man proved there’s still a spot for unique and well-crafted non-Hollywood crossovers in the popular culture (the films earned, respectively, more than $24 million and $17 million at the U.S. box office), the vast majority of last year’s festival titles had to scrappily pull together alternative distribution strategies in an ever-fragmenting entertainment universe, caught somewhere between the old and the new, ticket sales and downloads. As Roadside Attractions…  Read more

    On Jan 21, 2015
    By on Jan 21, 2015Columns
  • Has the Cinematic Water Cooler Run Dry?

    Sex, lies and videotape; Pulp Fiction; The Blair Witch Project; Juno — they are now the stuff of indie film legend. Movies that came out of nowhere (although that’s not entirely true) and became not just crossover hits, but cultural phenomena, spawning think-pieces in The New York Times, TV talk-show fodder and conversations around the water cooler. Yes, they made money along the way, but we remember them as much for the zeitgeist they captured as their box office. These days, we can still point to the occasional breakout. This year, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has benefited from that mysterious magical…  Read more

    On Oct 20, 2014
    By on Oct 20, 2014Columns
  • The Last Mile

    In the battle between big telecoms and tech companies over the issue of net neutrality, independent filmmakers are inevitably going to be collateral damage. While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hasn’t yet gone forward with plans to allow Internet Service Providers to charge websites for faster service, the current proposals suggest that challenging times are ahead for media makers and companies who use the Web, with potentially higher costs and increased barriers to entry. As Jamie Wilkinson, CEO of digital distribution platform VHX questions, “As the market gets more crowded, will the prices be driven up?” Without the deep pockets…  Read more

    On Jul 17, 2014
    By on Jul 17, 2014Columns
  • Why Too Many Movies Aren’t Necessarily a Problem

    There are too many movies, so says The New York Times, and The Wrap. And that’s a bad thing. It’s that old law of supply and demand at work, they argue, with an abundance of titles over-saturating the marketplace and sabotaging the sustainability of the art film business. But some distribution professionals respond with a contrary and more nuanced view. There may be a lot of movies being made in the new millennium, but the ever-expanding entertainment universe is here to sort things out. “It’s like saying there are too many books or too many paintings or too much…  Read more

    On Apr 28, 2014
    By on Apr 28, 2014Columns
  • Hits & Misses

    By the end of 2013, the most pressing question facing Hollywood was already old news for indies: multiplatform viewing is here, and particularly for independents, it’s here to stay. A significant source of revenue, in most cases, and a crucial method of finding an audience, the iTunes-Cable VOD and direct-to-consumer release has increasingly become an integral, if not principal, part of filmmakers’ distribution strategies. And yet, the irony of the past year in indie film is that much of the business was reliant on that hoary, old-fashioned, windowed release. For every VOD breakout surprise such as Drinking Buddies or Only…  Read more

    On Jan 17, 2014
    By on Jan 17, 2014Columns
  • Bad Metrics

    Even if you don’t know baseball, you probably know the term “batting average” (or BA), which is widely used as the best measure of a batter’s prowess. Defined as the number of hits divided by the number of times at bat, it’s reported as a decimal number (i.e., .300 refers to the praiseworthy remark “batting 300”). The three all-time BA leaders are Ty Cobb (.366), Roger Hornsby (.358) and Joe Jackson (.356). But some baseball insiders have criticized the metric because it doesn’t account for the quality of those “at bats.” For many, it’s a shortsighted statistic that elides the…  Read more

    On Oct 21, 2013
    By on Oct 21, 2013Columns
  • A Business of Ignorance?

    The impact of digital distribution on the indie film landscape has been vast. First, film titles began to inch up the alphabet toward the letter “A” to get noticed at the top of VOD listings. The latest development: Find a young TV star with a solid online fan base and you’re gold. “I’m seeing more and more films leveraging up-and-coming TV actors that have social media profiles,” says Erick Opeka, senior vice president of digital distribution at Cinedigm Entertainment. “Those audiences can’t wait to consume more product that features their favorite actors. The films come out of nowhere and storm…  Read more

    On Jul 18, 2013
    By on Jul 18, 2013Columns
© 2023 Filmmaker Magazine. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of The Gotham