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      Article 15

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Why Do Mainstream Film Industry People Make Indie Films?

Philosophers often say that Artists are only happy when they are creating. While this adage covers all different types of Artists, it is especially true when applied to the ones that work in the film industry. No matter how successful mainstream Hollywood artistic people become, no matter how big their name is or how big their movies are they always desire to work in relatively small independent films as well. Many of them participate in the film festival circuit which would seem like a step backwards for their career. The big question is why?

There is a new indie film out on the film festival circuit called She Wants Me. It is a true independent film with a miniscule budget. A previously unknown writer and director named Rob Margolies was at the helm for this production.  Most of the cast is also made up of completely unknown actors. However, there are three mainstream Hollywood actors in this movie. Charlie Sheen, Hillary Duff and Wayne Knight have parts in this film which sort of seems like three giant marlins trying to swim in a coy pond.

Not so coincidentally, the storyline of She Wants Me is about an indie filmmaker who has to make a decision on whether or not to give the lead actress role to a very interested mainstream actress. The problem is that he already cast his girlfriend for the part. In this case art is definitely imitating life, for this type of thing seems to be happening a lot these days.

Another independent film that was recently released onto the film festival circuit is Little Birds. This movie was written and directed by an unknown independent filmmaker named Elgin James. He has never made any notable movies in the past and yet he was still able to cast Hollywood A list actress Kate Bosworth in his little indie film.

The Motel Life is another indie film now on the film festival circuit that was directed by two brothers. Their names are Alan and Gabe Polsky. They are not exactly household names. They have not made any blockbuster Hollywood movies to date and yet they were able to get big names like Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff to star in their independent film.

Ruby Sparks is a new indie film scheduled to be released on July twenty fifth, two thousand and twelve.  The directors of this movie, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Sparks have had some success in the independent film industry with movies like Little Miss Sunshine. However, by no means are they power players in Hollywood. They have not made the Big Six studios mega millions of dollars and brought fame and fortune to everyone who has worked on their films. Despite that fact they have Antonio Banderas starring in their relatively small indie film. Annette Bening and Elliot Gould also have roles in this movie.

If you take a look at the list of newly released independent films and the ones scheduled to be released this year you will see that many of them have at least one mainstream actor cast in them. So why is it that big name actors gravitate back to film festival circuit, the equivalent to the movie industry farm league? These Hollywood heavy weights offer their talents to unheard of directors in movies that have budgets equal to the size of their mortgage payments for their house? Why do they do it? The answer is simple and it involves the issue of creativity.

 Indie films on the whole are much more creative works of art than mainstream Hollywood films. Actors are Artists and Artists are only happy when they are creating.  Big Hollywood movies give them the fame and fortune they need to fuel their careers. It can also leave them with an empty feeling inside as a performer.  This is due mostly to the fact that mainstream movies are created from a business model first and foremost. The creative side of the industry plays second fiddle to making a ton of money.

Every little aspect of the production process of a mainstream Hollywood film is planned out ahead of time very meticulously. The studios do an enormous amount of research that includes things like focus groups to decide the ending of the movie. There is not any wiggle room allowed in the creative process.  This can leave an actor feeling like their input on the set does not matter. This ultimately leads to the feeling that their creativity is being stifled.

The next time you attend an independent film festival in a small, off the beaten track town do not be surprised if you see some A list actors in the small indie films that are being screened. Independent films give big name Hollywood stars a less restrictive working environment. These stars can offer creative input to the director during the filmmaking process and independent filmmakers will usually include their ideas.

The scripts for indie films are not written by corporate executives using data from focus groups.  The reason mainstream Hollywood people return to the indie film scene and the film festival circuit is because it gives them a chance to be more creative again with their craft, like it was at the beginning of their careers. This is very important to serious actors, for Artists are only happy when they are creating.



  2013 Copyright.  Michael P. Connelly

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