This Independence Day Weekend… Declare Your Independents!

July 5th, 2013 by

“Declare your independents” is not a misprint. It’s an idea I had yesterday.

I was stewing over this post — Why are the major studios NOT making more movies for the largest demo groups — and feeling grumpy about it when I read quotes like this in my Twitter feed that made me even more dispirited:

@LisaPease: Adults don’t need special effects or stars – just a good story.

KJSFAN: I’m in every highest category – I can say “Categorically they are Not making enough movies for me.”

@luacheia99: Are they blind? MT @GoIntoTheStory: Why are the studios NOT making more movies for the largest demo groups

Of course, the fact is there are plenty of wonderful movies produced each year, just not by major studios, but rather independent production companies and filmmakers. For example, here are some of the indie movies coming out this summer:

The Way, Way Back (July 5), Fruitvale Station (July 12), The Spectacular Now (August 2), I Give It A Year (August 9), Drinking Buddies and Short Term 12 (August 23), and The Lifeguard (August 30).

As I ruminated on these matters, suddenly the heavens parted and a double rainbow of inspiration slammed into the mush which is my gray matter, generating this idea:

On Independence Day weekend, why don’t we attend a screening of an independent movie currently in theaters?

Hence: Declare your independents!

When the masses are lemming-like trawling toward this sequel or that remake, we can opt to vote for independent filmmakers by spending our dollars on their movies.

Interesting settings! Compelling characters! Fresh voices! And you know… actual stories!

I got a late start on it this year, but let’s see what bubbles up in a conversation here on the blog this weekend. Some initial thoughts I had:

* I could upload an Independents Day post each day this weekend: Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

* I encourage any of you who go to see an independent movie to post your reactions to the film in those posts. Good, bad, indifferent, whatever, let’s create whatever minimal amount of buzz we can. And certainly if there’s a film you want to recommend, do it. Use your words to inspire readers to magically transport themselves out of the Barcolounger and into a local cinema that embraces subtitles.

* When you go to the theater, why not whip out your cellphone and snap a shot of something that demonstrates you were there. A photo of the movie poster in the lobby. A shot of your ticket stubs. An image of the movie theater itself. You and your iconoclastic indie film freaks.

* Could we create a Pinterest thingee to post all those images? This is not a rhetorical question. I’ve never used Pinterest, so I’m asking for information.

I don’t often come up with good ideas, but I think this is one of them. I’m certainly going to run with it on the blog, an annual event to remind each and every one of us, we can do more than whine about the state of the movie business by getting off our assess, driving down to the local bijou that features indie films, and supporting the bountiful array of distinctive and different movies that are being produced and distributed.

You’ve heard of counterprogramming? Well, this is counter-viewing.

Okay, what do you think? Good idea? Stupid idea? Myers, go back to your lonely dark office and leave us alone?

I look forward to your comments.

DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENTS!

UPDATE: Hey, check it out. I just Googled “what independent movies are showing” and found this: the Fandango Indie Movie guide. And look at this: A monthly guide to indie movies. Had no idea this existed.

As for me, I’m putting my actual money where my virtual mouth is: Rebecca and I are going to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Chelsea Theater on Sunday night. This will be my second time to see the movie [I went the first time with Luke].

How about you? What independent movie will you see this Independence Day weekend?

UPDATE #2: My crack development assistant Wendy came up with all of these links to help you Declare Your Independence:

INDIEWIRE’s Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Parts 1-5)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

INDIEWIRE: The 9 Indie Films You Must See This July

UPDATE #3: For any conversations on Twitter re this initiative, let’s use these two hashtags:

#independents and #declareyourindependents

What do you think about making this a year-long thing? We use July 4th weekend as a launching point and reminder each year, but every Friday, for example, I could post a list of indie movies that are being released in theaters and VOD that weekend, along with trailers, key reviews, etc.

Note: This is not to denigrate mainstream commercial movies. In the spirit of Declare Your Independents, it seems to me a true movie ‘patriot’ will go see those big films in addition to supporting indie films. But obviously it’s up to you.

I’m just trying to think of a way to heighten awareness of indie movies, the choices we have, and in general provide an actual act we can do to give ourselves a more aesthetically pleasing experience by seeing diverse films while giving a bump to independent cinema as a whole.

Thoughts?

UPDATE #4: Producer Ted Hope, who arguably more than anyone has been leading the conversation about the state of indie films and more importantly trying to do something about it, has this post yesterday, his own reflections about Independence Day and indie films.

16 thoughts on “This Independence Day Weekend… Declare Your Independents!

  1. Shaula Evans says:

    Scott, I am SO excited about this new series. Yes, please, let’s run it all year, or at least as long as it has legs.

    Some suggestions for the series:
    - What about a post about what “independent movie” used to mean, how the system has changed, and what it means now? (Partly to get us all on the same page for the series.)
    - I’m always excited to support new independent releases in theatres. I’d also love recommendations for already-released independents worth seeing on DVD or VOD.
    - Maybe you could bundle this into your interview series and ask your guests about their favourite independent movies. (Like the “Top 10 lists” by filmmakers that Criterion runs on their website.) For example, I’d love to know what Ava DuVernay and Liz Garcia would recommend, and I know you’ve got an amazing slate of interview subjects lined up for the rest of the year.

  2. Oh my, how bloody inspirational is this?! LOVE IT!!!

    So for me and the Mrs., tonight, at Milwaukee’s own, beautiful ORIENTAL THEATER, our last great movie palace, it’ll be THE KINGS OF SUMMER!

    (by the way, check out the lobby…this place is truly a cinema lover’s crown jewel!)

    http://cdn.lightgalleries.net/4bd5ec080717d/images/7-2_Oriental_Theater_01-1.jpg

    http://cdn.lightgalleries.net/4bd5ec080717d/images/Full_TheaterA_copy_2-1.jpg

    The popcorn there is sprinkled not with atomic butter product but a powder called ‘Brewer’s Yeast.’

    See ya’ at the movies! I’ll let you all know how it went!

  3. Apologies if this seems like ragging, but while I know math isn’t a prerequisite for this blog, this tweet you quoted misses the point so far, it made me laugh out loud:
    @LisaPease: Adults don’t need special effects or stars – just a good story. For 1/4 price could reach double the audience.

  4. Jerry Glover says:

    Well, I’m ahead of the game with my June theater viewings of indies outnumbering summer blockbusters. The indie-roll so far: Mud, Much Ado About Nothing, The Kings of Summer, and Don Jon(preview/fall release). I even paid to see half of them. :-)

    Next on the agenda is probably The Way, Way Back, definitely Fruitvale Station, and, rolling out in August, The Spectacular Now.

    Thanks for the Fandango indie section/calednar link; didn’t know about that either.

  5. CydM says:

    In like Flynn (um, I might want to rethink that)! We’re hitting the movies tomorrow and will ONLY see indies. Maybe two.

    Yes, a communal board can be created on Pintrest. Excellent idea. I’m currently on a few but I don’t know how or why. Time to check it out and get something going.

    Love, love, love this idea.

  6. CydM says:

    I started a community Independent Film board on Pinterest, but I’m not entirely sure how it all works. I did notice I had some new invitations to join other community boards for independent writers, so I sent out invitations to a few writers and photographers I know. Here’s the link:

    http://pinterest.com/cydmadsen/indpendent-films-for-quality-and-elevation-of-visu/

    If you use the latest version of Firefox, there is an add on or plug in for a Pinterest pin. See something you like, hit the little button and it can go on the board of your choice.

  7. sharpreef says:

    Scott,

    This is a great idea for a series. I have been feeling that movie goers, more and more, are only buying theater tickets to see movies that are mass marketed to them. It’s as if they feel some kind of responsibility to see the “big movies” on the big screen. The problem is these movies are made with a corporate mentality. They are made to sell burgers and toys. They’re basically very expensive advertisements. This is not the type of cinema that expands or illuminates anyone’s perspective or outlook.

    The only way to stop it is for people to BUY TICKETS to see interesting, unique and original films in the THE THEATER as our business is still so fixated on US box office, in particular, opening weekend grosses.

    I feel like moviegoers have to look at their movie spending dollar as a vote. You are voting for the kind of movies you want to see in the future. I know many executives would like to make original movies, but when the general audience keeps voting for more of the same, that’s what they serve up.

    For your movie dollar consideration, some movies I enjoyed with an independent point of view, currently or recently released in theaters or DVD:

    A HIJACKING
    FRANCIS HA
    MUD
    KON-TIKI
    DISCONNECT
    THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
    KILLING THEM SOFTLY
    SIMON KILLER
    THE COMEDY
    HEADHUNTERS
    THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS

  8. A2Jason says:

    I celebrated my “Declare Your Independents” (love that name) today by seeing the independent comedy “The Kings of Summer.” It is literally the best comedy I have seen so far in 2013. Engaging characters. Memorable dialogue. Never dull. Much needed boost for the coming-of-age genre!

    1. Scott says:

      Great to hear, Jason. Heard good things about it. Here’s the logline:

      “Three teenage friends, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.”

      Did you see it on VOD? In a theater?

      1. A2Jason says:

        I saw it at my local indie theater “The Little Theatre” . There was a decent crowd for an early Saturday afternoon showing. All different age groups — but ironically no teenagers lol.

        I’m rooting for “The Kings of Summer” to win. A fun Summer Movie that is actually an original story without big stars or special effects. Can you imagine? lol

      2. A2Jason says:

        Speaking of independent movies, it seems like the indie scene has been leading the charge in 2013 for a modern “Coming Of Age” revival >>> “The Way Way Back,” “The Kings Of Summer,” “Fruitvale Station,” “The Bling Ring” and “Spring Breakers” come to mind.

  9. CydM says:

    The Indie Film board I set up on Pinterest has one person join the board, so it is now communal. Anyone can post what they want there. So far I’ve posted this site, sites of different film commissions, and indie films.

    Joining Pinterest is easy. Just logon through Facebook (all roads lead to FB). And speaking of which, there are quite a few indie filmmaker groups on FB. Some are open, most you request permission, and some are secret and hidden. It’s a very good resource for networking.

  10. [...] This Independence Day Weekend… Declare Your Independents! (gointothestory.blcklst.com) [...]

  11. John Arends says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFonHX7KGKw

    Declaring my independents this month with BIG WORDS, opening July 19th!

  12. We should put Mr. Gilliam’s recent comments on the “Declare Your Independents!” masthead!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzOgZd0yLtQ

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