Three weeks ago, I published a satirical petition via Change.org asking indie filmmakers to stop making indie films. Many commenters didn't catch the satire:
- "What an absurd idea." -Tom
- "This is bullshit. Fuck you. Anyone should be able to make any films they want. You are a pretentious cock sucker." -Kenneth
- "This solves absolutely nothing. You think that getting some poor struggling artist to stop making his/her indie feature is going to make it solvent again? So stupid and naive." -Andrew Cromey
As they were calling for my head ("Kentucker is an idiot." -Barnie), they were giving emotional testimonials on freedom of indie filmmaking expression.
"Everyone has the right and voice as a artist to make whatever film they want. Just because its not as great as the pros doesn't mean shit! No one deserves the right to tell anyone they can't dream or make a film, thats our god given right! The person who you say is clogging up the pipeline may one day make the most amazing film ever and now they won't because you think you know better! To dream is everyones right." -Baron Micheal Redman (See the comment sections of articles on No Film School, Filmmaker, & Indiewire for more outrage)
To provide some context, I created the petition as a response to two recent articles: one from Manohla Dargis in the New York Times calling for distributors to buy less films at Sundance '14 in order to prevent critics and audiences from being overwhelmed by mediocre movies. And second: one from Beanie Barnes at Salon classifying the indie film industry as the new Walmart, wherein an overabundance of cheap films have created an oversupply and devalued the product. They endorse radical proposals: make less films, distribute less films.
But since neither author offered concrete solutions how to achieve this, I decided to take the reigns by asking indie filmmakers if they would volunteer their way out of the industry. If you missed it, here was my Change.org petition:
Sign the petition to stop making indie films, endorsed by The New York Times, Salon & others.
Our goal is 5,000 signatures by March 31st, 2014. We believe if we can convince enough aspiring filmmakers to give up on their dreams, the industry will become solvent again, returning to a thriving and viable state. Film critics and film audiences will no longer be overwhelmed by the glut of mediocre indie productions, while the truly inspired and talented filmmakers will easily be discovered and embraced, able to receive the wide acclaim & financial gain they deserve. Distributors, theater owners, tastemakers, as well as audiences and critics, will delight in having far fewer films to choose from.
Note: if you're an indie filmmaker with commercial promise, please continue making films. (Don't sign) This list is made for the mediocre filmmakers who would otherwise be clogging up the indie arteries with undercooked, half-assed or nobudge productions. This includes anything small scale, anything personal, of course all mumblecore, and most other work with developing visions. (In other words, if you don't already have your artistry perfected, please sign up.)
I, Kentucker Audley, will be the first to sign up & look forward to you joining me in this quest to find another passion. We hit 5,000 signatures and the industry is saved! Thank you former indie filmmakers! Please spread to all your talentless filmmaking friends.
- Rick Alverson: (The Comedy) I haven't made a film in 2 years. During that time G.I. Joe: Retaliation & The Last Exorcism Part II were released. I'd like to think that I was some small part of that. The sacrifice must start at home. There is dignity in bleachers. Those who can't run with the bulls can wave from the windows. Thank you Kentucker for giving a voice to a movement.
- Dan Sallitt (The Unspeakable Act): Wish I could think of a reason I don't qualify, but...
- Lee Isaac Chung (Munyurangabo): I'm pretty sure I made one of the films Manhola Dargis regretted seeing in 2013. I am sorry.
- Matt Grady (Factory 25) I can help out this cause in multiple ways. It's a huge relief not to worry about finishing the film I started 4 years ago but I can also quit distributing the low budget indie films that are ruining the world...I really hope more people make films about the apocalypse.
Check out the campaign here for many more insightful reasons to quit!
All jokes aside, I love indie films & I would never urge anyone to stop making them. I started NoBudge in 2011 as a fan wanting to share films I loved & that's what I'll continue to do. We don't curate films here based on commercial potential, but instead on personality, authenticity, heart, vulnerability, weirdness, etc, etc. If your film doesn't fit in the industry, maybe it'll fit with us. If not, there are countless burgeoning internet distributors and self-release platforms launching all the time. Some won't last, some films will never make money, some audiences will feel overwhelmed by the glut, some critics will be disappointed by the films they review, and none of these are reasons why any aspiring filmmaker should decide not to make a film.
If you haven't, please sign the petition. We'll never reach 5,000 signatures & that's the point. The campaign will end in failure at the end of March. We encourage everyone who has signed the petition to publicize our failure on March 31st, to spread the bad news that we're back in the game.