No….you should NOT be trying to hit your spell-check while wondering “why the heck is this guy trying to talk about July 4th already??!! Much less WHAT does it have to do with movies AND he can’t even SPELL it correctly??!!” Come on, I KNOW that’s what you first thought. HOWEVER…..there is NO need to adjust your computer monitor, as I wanted to share thoughts about a new genre in film for me that came about in mid-2013…the Independent/Small Budget Film.
As someone who has really been into going to see movies since around college (NO!! I am not going to indicate how long ago THAT was!), my general tendencies always leaned toward what most of the U.S. movie-going population, and for that matter, the WORLD’s movie-going population, goes to see…the big-budget blockbusters with their amazing visuals, huge casts, and over-the-top content, often made for $100 million or more. They would encompass most of the genres, ie: comedy (romantic or otherwise), action, fantasy, drama….it’s all there, and people FLOOD to the theaters to see these films (well, ok, maybe not ALWAYS…sorry “The Lone Ranger“, “John Carter of Mars” and “R.I.P.D.“). So the only films I even paid attention to were within that category, and trust me, I still LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, so many of those. I mean, that escape to other worlds and realities is exactly what we need at times, right??
Then, early last year, a co-worker of mine suggested that I see two particular films on DVD….which were “Winter’s Bone” (made for $2 million and starring a then-unknown Jennifer Lawrence), and the original Swedish film version (subtitles and all) of “Let The Right One In“. He said these were excellent films….and I had heard of NEITHER one at ALL! So, on that word of mouth, I went off to Amazon and bought “Winter’s Bone” and my friend loaned me the other. Well, I was truly AMAZED. Here were two films that had been made SO cheaply, their theatrical releases COMBINED, domestically, encompassed only 194 screens AND their overall grosses worldwide COMBINED….$24,608,839! Most major films want that kind of total on their opening DAY. And yet…both were SO well executed in their directing, writing, acting…and the stories just felt so…grounded (even in view of “Let The Right One In” being a VERY different twist on the vampire genre). There was a sense of realism. It was this revelation of actually getting to see these actors REALLY ACT…to have to bring these characters to life in such a vibrant way…because it was those characters that HAD to drive the film and their stories….not having spectacular visual effects, a ton of known talent, or any other common “tools” to lean on. Other films on DVD that I have tried and are, in my opinion of course, worth checking out: “Mud“, “The East“, and “Return“. Suddenly, this whole new genre became quite real, and all of these little films that I would not have even paid ANY attention to, became the focus of research for me, and also became the reason that by the end of 2013…I had seen 11 Independent/Small Budget films in local theaters where I live.
And that will become that next part of this story….stay tuned!