Back to the Future

An independent-film veteran recalls the '80s and looks ahead

Sometimes in April will air on HBO—and though "it's not TV," it's certainly not theatrical distribution. And that's the challenge of today—it is time not just for the message, but also for the indie film community to focus on how it is delivered. It's an absurdist fantasy to think "if we make it, they will come." Outside New York City, audiences have never voted with their dollars for amore diverse selection of films and subjects —until now. The neglect that we, the film-loving masses, have shown toward turning up for anything remotely challenging has led us onto a rigid grid with regard to what the industry will finance or distribute from the indie sector. Unfortunately the press serves mostly to remind us of what sells. Audience activism, as indicated by the support for Fahrenheit 9/11 or The Passion of the Christ, indicates that people power can change the system.

All of a sudden it seems like audiences are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more. But the question is not whether filmmakers can answer their cry, but whether they can find a way to deliver the letter to their door. We can't rely on a voice to rise out of the darkness. We have to show up in huge numbers for those who dare say something different, or indie film, as a movement, will truly die this decade.


Jonathan Caouette in Tarnation, a contemporary parallel to Poison
photo: Wellspring Media
Jonathan Caouette in Tarnation, a contemporary parallel to Poison

Ted Hope is co-founder of and a partner at This Is That Productions. He is a producer of over 50 films, most recentlyA Dirty Shame andThe Door in the Floor.

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