Free «There Is No Such Thing as American Independent Cinema» Essay Sample

Hollywood usually makes movies that have extremely huge budgets. A few companies that usually drive up film production costs dominate the Hollywood movie industry. These companies include AOL Time Warner and Sony Columbia. These companies have huge sums of money that they can use to make movies a success. Companies do not just spend huge sums of money on film production; they spend equally high sums of money on postproduction activities such as advertising. These companies have made Hollywood actors receive astronomical sums of money for their roles in various movies. However, not all producers make their movies on a high budget. Several producers produce movies very low budgets – sometimes less than $1 million. Young filmmakers who have personal visions that do not conform to the pressures and influence of the major film conglomerates (King, 2005) produce most of these movies. These filmmakers make independent movies that do not conform to the commercialisation of mainstream Hollywood and incorporates subject matters that differ from those of mainstream Hollywood.

Low price is one of the main features of independent films. There are directors who have successfully made movies using extremely low budgets. The Blair Witch Project (1999) is one of the highly acclaimed independent movies. The initial budget of the movie was between $22,000 and $60,000. This was an extremely low price to make movies. However, the movie raked in $140 million (King, 2005). Therefore, the movie had a huge return of investment. The success of low budget movies offers inspiration to many young directors, who strive to produce movies but have limited funds.

However, low budget movies still have to use huge sums of money in postproduction activities. Postproduction activities mainly involve advertising. Various factors may necessitate directors to increase the amount of money they spend on producing movies, for the movies to be a success. Initial success of the movie may prompt the directors to spend more money in advertising, to improve the income of the movie. The increase may be several times the initial estimate (King, 2005). Therefore, it is pertinent to say that there are no independent movies. The ultimate aim of every movie director is for the movie to have high returns. This may force the directors to include certain themes to increase the popularity of the movie. In attempting to increase the popularity of the movies, directors may have to increase the budget of the movie to conform to the needs of the viewers.

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the directors who make independent movies. Anderson’s movies include Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood (Cieply, 2012). Mainstream Hollywood film conglomerates do not influence Anderson’s movies. Most of his movies have themes that do not conform to themes in most Hollywood movies. Originality of Anderson’s movies makes them very popular with film lovers. However, his movies have been a subject of severe criticism from various parties.

All Anderson’s movies have characters that reinvent themselves to new identities. In Hardy Eight, Sydney models himself as a gambler, in Boogie Nights Eddie Adams becomes a porn star, whereas in Punch Drunk Love Barry Egan devices a plan that would help him escape from his suffocating life by making huge purchases of pudding. People who reinvent themselves in all Anderson’s movie are the main characters. This makes Anderson’s movies not to conform to the mainstream Hollywood movies where characters focus on only one course. This is the main reason that makes Anderson’s movies be the subject of intense criticism from movie reviews. All Anderson’s movies have characters that have behaviours that do not conform to the society. However, by the end of the movie these characters eventually triumph (Richardson, 2008). The transformation of these characters is usually gradual. Anderson gives his characters, who have weird behaviours hope that they would ultimately change. This makes people state that the characters in all Anderson’s movies conform to his peculiar childhood. During his early life in Hollywood, Anderson was involved in a ferocious hustle for transformation.

Surrealism is one of the most common aspects of several films. The main characteristics of surrealistic movies are juxtapositions, use of shocking imagery and rejection of dramatic psychology (Conley & Taminiaux, 2006). Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love (2002) has several aspects of surrealism. The movie begins with the character Barry Egan witnessing a horrible car crush. Soon after a taxi pulls up in front of Egan and for no apparent reason drops a harmonium. This mundane surrealism is common in the film. Barry’s life is characterised by a myriad of weird events. The phone sex operator blackmails Barry. In addition, Barry has weird personality traits. Barry is emotionally fragile and socially awkward. He has an extremely low level of self-esteem. The makes him not to have any kind of social life. He struggles to control his anger. In one instance, he causes havoc in a restaurant where he is having a romantic dinner with Lena. Despite his weaknesses, which are clearly visible to the viewer Lena kisses him after the dinner. Towards the end of the movie, Barry’s confidence increases. He confronts Dean and the ‘brothers’ who have been making his life unbearable. The sudden increase in Barry’s confidence puzzles Dean and the brothers. Towards the end of the movie, surrealism is clearly visible when Barry plays the harmonium to Lena (Hosenball, 2012). Barry had acquired this same harmonium after the tragic car crush.


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