Our indie filmmakers’ movies have been doing well on the international festival circuit. But, in terms of being patronized by enough local viewers to make a profit—not so much.
The problem is, many distributors and theater owners think that indie movies are too “serious,” not entertaining enough, are generally bereft of solid star and production values, and are too “private and personal,” and thus not “accessible” for the mainstream audience.
As a result, only a handful of indies have made it to the screens of the major theater circuits and cineplexes that the bulk of the country’s moviegoers patronize.
This is a big problem that threatens to nip the promising indie trend in the bud. If indie productions don’t make even a small profit, their producers may not have enough money to pay for their follow-up ventures, so the movement won’t be able to escalate and peak.
Aware of this dire situation, we’ve been asking various parties involved what can be done to help solve the problem.
Some independent filmmakers screen their movies in colleges and universities, but only occasionally.
The idea of putting up film clubs has been proposed, but with not enough takers so far. What about the indie movie houses in malls that used to screen alternative productions? Not enough viewers there, either, and the indie producers balked at the “minimum guarantee” requirement.
So, are we back to square one? Other opiners think that there’s still hope, if filmmakers make their movies more “accessible” in terms of topics and style.
Instead of dealing with “experimental” material and situations, they should dramatize stories that more people can relate to.
Others caution filmmakers that some “malpractices” have given some writer-directors a bad rep, especially the “exploitative” sex and gay sex romps that proliferate in the name of “art” and “self-expression.”
Still others counter that some of those “tacky” productions were made as “survival” gambits, so the unfriendly system should be blamed, not the desperate filmmakers.
In this welter of sometimes conflicting points of view, what should emerge to unite film people and viewers alike is the key realization that the indie movement needs to be encouraged at all costs, because it has democratized filmmaking in this country.
Before, mainstream producers could make a film only if they had at least P10 million to finance it with. These days, P1 million or sometimes even less can already make possible an indie movie’s production.
This has resulted in many more voices being heard, and many different points of view about life being shared with viewers.
It’s important, therefore, that the sharing be made more extensive, so that more viewers can “learn” from the insightful points of view being expressed and dramatized.
Wider range of roles
The indie movement is also important to actors, because it gives them a wider range of roles to explore, unlike the mainstream industry’s more limited and predictable cast of characters. Even big stars have expressed an interest in “going indie,” to show what else and what more they can do.
The hope is that their stellar presence will make indie movies popular, so not only named actors but more viewers will benefit. When we succeed in expanding the availability of the best indie movies, everybody wins!