Indie films: the new big thing?


Everyone has heard of indie films- low budget, sometimes obscure, starring lesser known actors and actresses. Many of these films are much more controversial and riveting than mainstream Hollywood movies, drawing drastically mixed reviews. Often, famous stars such as Johnny Depp and Hilary Swank will go to the film festivals (Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival). Many people, however, do not know or appreciate independent films simply because they do not receive as much publicity as big budget Hollywood movies.

This year was a big year for good movies: “Wedding Crashers,” “War of the Worlds,” “Hustle and Flow,” and “March of the Penguins.” All these movies were popular in the box office and for critics; yet both “Hustle and Flow” and “March of the Penguins” are independent films. “Hustle and Flow” cost a mere $2.8 million as opposed to the $40 million that “Wedding Crashers” cost to make. “March of the Penguins” cost under $1 million to make; “War of the Worlds” had a budget of $200 million. Although both “War of the Worlds” and “Wedding Crashers” grossed more than they cost to make, the fact that small budget movies were popular was surprising.

Independent movies rarely make it to the box office because of the lack of publicity or the lack of interest. Big celebrities do not often participate in indie films and therefore many "normal people" disregard the art of low budget cinematography.

Last year, the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” became a fast hit once it was released on DVD and video. Who would have thought that such a low budget movie, $400,000, would be so explosive? The worldwide gross of the movie was $45.7 million.

Doing independent films is arguably harder then big budget movies. The pay is worse, the sets are not as nice, and struggling actors and actresses are under more stress from directors and themselves to succeed. The hours are longer and more intense.

So why have indie films suddenly become so popular? Some people prefer indie films to Hollywood films because the plots are more realistic and are often more witty and clever.

Some of the actors who do indie films are close to becoming big time celebrities, and the pressure often makes the actors put on a better performance, which enhances the quality of the films.

“March of the Penguins” and “Napoleon Dynamite” are not the first good, small budget movies to come out and yet there has not been quite this much attention towards this film community in a long time. Hollywood movies have not lost their popularity; indie films have just gotten more attention.

Anyone who appreciates the film genre is enthusiastic about the growing status of the independent film community; it builds a good reputation and brings more money to movies that have a profound plot and deep meaning to them. Although big budget movies are remaining popular, indie films are finally getting the recognition they deserve.