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An independent film, independent movie, indie film, or indie movie is a
feature film A feature film or feature-length film is a narrative film (motion picture or "movie") with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole presentation in a commercial entertainment program. The term ''feature film'' originall ...
or
short film A short film is any motion picture A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through ...
that is produced outside the
major film studio Major film studios are production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act of making products (goods and serv ...
system, in addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment companies. Independent films are sometimes distinguishable by their content and style and the way in which the filmmakers' personal artistic vision is realized. Usually, but not always, independent films are made with considerably lower
budgets A budget is a financial plan for a defined period, often one year. It may also include planned sales Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a co ...
than major studio films. In fact, it is not unusual for well known actors who are cast in independent films to take substantial pay cuts if they truly believe in the message of the film, or because they want to work under an independent director who has a solid reputation for being highly talented, or if they are returning a favor (i.e. if said independent filmmaker was the one who gave that actor their big break into film). There are many examples of the latter, including
John Travolta John Joseph Travolta (born February 18, 1954) is an American actor and singer. He came to public attention during the 1970s, appearing on the television sitcom ''Welcome Back, Kotter'' (1975–1979) and starring in the box office successes Carri ...

John Travolta
and
Bruce Willis Walter Bruce Willis (born March 19, 1955) is an American actor. His career began on the off-Broadway An off-Broadway theatre is any professional theatre venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusi ...

Bruce Willis
taking less pay to star in ''
Pulp Fiction ''Pulp Fiction'' is a 1994 American black comedy Black comedy, also known as black humor, dark humor, dark comedy, morbid humor, or gallows humor, is a style of comedy Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōm ...
''. Generally, the marketing of independent films is characterized by
limited release __FORCETOC__ Limited theatrical release is a film distribution A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of ...
, often at
independent movie theater Image:LittleTheatreRochesterNewYork.JPG, The Little Theatre (Rochester, New York), Little Theatre in Rochester, New York, an example of an indie cinema., thumb An independent movie theater or indie cinema is a movie theater which screens independe ...
s, but they can also have major marketing campaigns and a
wide release In the American motion picture industry, a wide release (short for nationwide release) is a film playing at the same time at cinemas in most markets across the country. This is in contrast to the formerly common practice of a roadshow theatrical rel ...
. Independent films are often screened at local, national, or international
film festivals A film festival is an organized, extended presentation of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, b ...
before distribution (theatrical or retail release). An independent film production can rival a
mainstream The mainstream is the prevalent current thought In their most common sense, the terms thought and thinking refer to conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Their most paradigmatic forms are judging, r ...
film production if it has the necessary funding and distribution.


History


Edison Trust

In 1908, the
Motion Picture Patents Company The Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC, also known as the Edison Trust), founded in December 1908 and terminated seven years later in 1915 after conflicts within the industry, was a trust of all the major US film companies and local foreign-bran ...
or "Edison Trust" was formed as a trust. The Trust was a
cartel A cartel is a group of independent market participants who Collusion, collude with each other in order to improve their profits and dominate the market. Cartels are usually associations in the same sphere of business, and thus an alliance of r ...

cartel
that held a monopoly on film production and distribution comprising all the major film companies of the time ( Edison, Biograph,
Vitagraph Vitagraph Studios, also known as the Vitagraph Company of America, was a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a ...
,
Essanay The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company was an early American film, motion picture movie studio, studio. The studio was founded in 1907 and based in Chicago, and later had an additional film lot in Niles Canyon, California. Its stars included Franci ...
,
Selig
Selig
,
Lubin Lubin (; german: Lüben, szl, Lubin) is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship in south-western Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Eu ...
,
Kalem Image:Gene Gauntier and Jack J. Clark.jpg, Gene Gauntier and Jack J. Clark Filming location, on location in Ireland in ''You Remember Ellen'' (1912) The Kalem Company was an early American film studio founded in New York City in 1907 in film, 1907. ...
,
American Star
American Star
, American Pathé), the leading distributor (
George Kleine George Kleine (1864June 8, 1931) was an American film producer and cinema pioneer. Biography His father, Charles, was a New York optician who sold optical devices and stereopticons. George joined the family firm, and in 1893 moved to Chicago. Th ...
) and the biggest supplier of raw film,
Eastman Kodak The Eastman Kodak Company (referred to simply as Kodak ) is an American public company A public company, publicly traded company, publicly held company, publicly listed company, or public limited company is a company whose ownership is or ...
. A number of filmmakers declined or were refused membership to the trust and came to be described as "independent". At the time of the formation of the MPPC,
Thomas Edison Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation Electricity generation is the process of generating electric power from s ...

Thomas Edison
owned most of the major
patent A patent is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depe ...

patent
s relating to motion pictures, including that for raw film. The MPPC vigorously enforced its patents, constantly bringing suits and receiving injunctions against independent filmmakers. Because of this, a number of filmmakers responded by building their own cameras and moving their operations to
Hollywood, California Hollywood is a neighborhood in the Central Los Angeles, central region of Los Angeles, California. Its name has come to be a metonymy, shorthand reference for the Cinema of the United States, U.S. film industry and the people associated with ...
, where the distance from Edison's home base of
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
made it more difficult for the MPPC to enforce its patents. The Edison Trust was soon ended by two decisions of the
Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or Americ ...

Supreme Court of the United States
: one in 1912, which canceled the patent on raw film, and a second in 1915, which cancelled all MPPC patents. Though these decisions succeeded at legalizing independent film, they would do little to remedy the ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
'' ban on small productions; the independent filmmakers who had fled to
Southern California Southern California (sometimes known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the southern portion of the U.S. state of California California is a in the . With over 39.3million resi ...

Southern California
during the enforcement of the trust had already laid the groundwork for the
studio system A studio system is a method of filmmaking Filmmaking (film production) is the process by which a motion picture A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art form ...
of
classical Hollywood cinema Classical Hollywood cinema is a term used in film criticism Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art for ...
.


Studio system

In early 1910, director D.W. Griffith was sent by the
Biograph Company The Biograph Company, also known as the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, was a motion picture company founded in 1895 and active until 1916. It was the first company in the United States devoted entirely to film production and exhibition, ...
to the west coast with his acting troupe, consisting of performers
Blanche Sweet Sarah Blanche Sweet (June 18, 1896 – September 6, 1986) was an American silent film A silent film is a film with no synchronized Sound recording and reproduction, recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). In silent films fo ...

Blanche Sweet
,
Lillian Gish Lillian Diana Gish (October 14, 1893February 27, 1993) was an American pioneering actress of the screen and stage, and a director and writer. Her film acting career spanned 75 years, from 1912, in silent film A silent film is a film with no s ...

Lillian Gish
,
Mary Pickford Gladys Marie Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American film actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the American film industry, she co-founded Pickf ...

Mary Pickford
,
Lionel Barrymore Lionel Barrymore (born Lionel Herbert Blythe; April 28, 1878 – November 15, 1954) was an American actor of stage, screen and radio as well as a film director. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award ...

Lionel Barrymore
, and others. They began filming on a vacant lot near Georgia Street in downtown
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles
. While there, the company decided to explore new territories, traveling several miles north to
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of An ...

Hollywood
, a little village that was friendly and positive about the movie company filming there. Griffith then filmed the first movie ever shot in Hollywood, '' In Old California'', a Biograph melodrama about
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
in the 1800s, while it belonged to Mexico. Griffith stayed there for months and made several films before returning to New York. During the Edison era of the early 1900s, many
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...

Jew
ish immigrants had found jobs in the U.S. film industry. Under the Edison Trust, they were able to make their mark in a brand-new business: the exhibition of films in storefront theaters called nickelodeons. Within a few years, ambitious men like
Samuel Goldwyn Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz; yi, שמואל געלבפֿיש; August 27, 1882 January 31, 1974), also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish-American Polish Americans ( pl, Polonia amerykańska) are Americans Americans are the ...
,
Carl Laemmle Carl Laemmle (; born Karl Lämmle; January 17, 1867 – September 24, 1939) was a German-American film producer and the co-founder and, until 1934, owner of Universal Pictures Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also kn ...
,
Adolph Zukor Adolph Zukor (January 7, 1873 – June 10, 1976) was an Austro-Hungarian-born American film producer best known as one of the three founders of Paramount Pictures.Obituary ''Variety Obituaries, Variety'' (June 16, 1976), p. 76. He produced one of ...
, Louis B. Mayer, and the
Warner Brothers Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (commonly known as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB) is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate Conglomerate or conglomeration may refer to: * Conglomerate (company) * ...
(Harry, Albert, Samuel, and Jack) had switched to the production side of the business. After hearing about Biograph's success in Hollywood, in 1913 many such would-be movie-makers headed west to avoid the fees imposed by Edison. Soon they were the heads of a new kind of enterprise: the
movie studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a major entertainment company or motion picture company that has its own privately owned studio A studio is an artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to cr ...
. By establishing a new system of production, distribution, and exhibition which was independent of The Edison Trust in New York, these studios opened up new horizons for
cinema in the United States The cinema of the United States has had a large effect on the film industry in general since the early 20th century. The dominant style of American cinema is the classical Hollywood cinema Classical Hollywood cinema is a term used in film cr ...

cinema in the United States
. The Hollywood oligopoly replaced the Edison monopoly. Within this new system, a
pecking orderPecking order is a hierarchical system. Pecking order may also refer to: * Pecking order theory, a financial model * Pecking Order (film), a 2017 New Zealand film * Pecking Order (game), a card game {{disambig ...
was soon established which left little room for any newcomers. By the mid-1930s, at the top were the five major studios,
20th Century Fox 20th Century Studios, Inc. (also known as 20th Century for short, and nicknamed 20th Pictures, formerly Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation) is an American film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a maj ...
,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or MGM) is an American media company, founded in 1924, that produces and distributes feature films and television programs. It is based in Beverly Hills, California ...
,
Paramount Pictures Paramount Pictures Corporation (common metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric ...

Paramount Pictures
,
RKO Pictures RKO Pictures was an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO) it was one of the Big FiveBig Five may refer to: Animals * th ...
, and
Warner Bros. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (commonly known as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB) is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered at the Warner Bros. Studios complex in Burbank, California ...
Then came three smaller companies,
Columbia Pictures Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production Filmmaking (film production) is the process by which a Film, motion picture is #Production, produced. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages, starting wit ...
,
United Artists United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American digital production company. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April ...
, and
Universal Studios Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also known as Universal Studios, or simply Universal; common metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an int ...

Universal Studios
. Finally there was "
Poverty Row Poverty Row was a slang term used in Hollywood from the 1920s through the 1950s to refer to a variety of small (and mostly short-lived) B movie studios. Although many of them were on (or near) today's Gower Street in Hollywood, the term did not ...
", a catch all term used to encompass any other smaller studio that managed to fight their way up into the increasingly exclusive movie business. While the small studios that made up Poverty Row could be characterized as existing "independently" of any major studio, they utilized the same kind of vertically and horizontally integrated systems of business as the larger players in the game. Though the eventual breakup of the studio system and its restrictive chain-theater distribution network would leave independent movie houses eager for the kind of populist, seat-filling product of the Poverty Row studios, that same paradigm shift would also lead to the decline and ultimate disappearance of "Poverty Row" as a Hollywood phenomenon. While the kinds of films produced by Poverty Row studios only grew in popularity, they would eventually become increasingly available both from major production companies and from independent producers who no longer needed to rely on a studio's ability to package and release their work. This table lists the companies active in late 1935 illustrates the categories commonly used to characterize the Hollywood system.


United Artists and resistance to the studio system

The studio system quickly became so powerful that some filmmakers once again sought independence. On February 5, 1919 four of the leading figures in American
silent cinema A silent film is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use o ...
(
Mary Pickford Gladys Marie Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American film actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the American film industry, she co-founded Pickf ...

Mary Pickford
,
Charles Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film A silent film is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture ...

Charles Chaplin
,
Douglas Fairbanks Douglas Elton Fairbanks Sr. (born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman; May 23, 1883 – December 12, 1939) was an American actor, screenwriter, director, and producer. He was best known for his swashbuckling A swashbuckler is a genre Genre () is ...
, and
D. W. Griffith David Wark Griffith (January 22, 1875 – July 23, 1948) was an American film director. Widely considered as the most important filmmaker of his generation, he pioneered financing of the feature-length movie. His film ''The Birth of a Nation ...
) formed United Artists, the first independent studio in America. Each held a 20% stake, with the remaining 20% held by lawyer
William Gibbs McAdoo William Gibbs McAdoo Jr.McAdoo is variously differentiated from family members of the same name: * Dr. William Gibbs McAdoo (1820–1894) – sometimes called "I" or "Senior" * William Gibbs McAdoo (1863–1941) – sometimes called "II" or "Juni ...

William Gibbs McAdoo
.Siklos, Richard (March 4, 2007). Mission Improbable: Tom Cruise as Mogul. ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publicatio ...
''
The idea for the venture originated with Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford, and cowboy star William S. Hart a year earlier as they were traveling around the U.S. selling
Liberty bond A Liberty bond (or liberty loan) was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the Allies of World War I#Co-belligerents; the United States, Allied cause in World War I. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic dut ...
s to help the
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
effort. Already veterans of Hollywood, the four film
stars A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity. The nearest star to Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. ...
began to talk of forming their own company to better control their own work as well as their futures. They were spurred on by the actions of established Hollywood producers and distributors, who were making moves to tighten their control over their stars' salaries and creative license. With the addition of Griffith, planning began, but Hart bowed out before things had formalized. When he heard about their scheme,
Richard A. Rowland
Richard A. Rowland
, head of
Metro Pictures Metro Pictures Corporation was a motion picture A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying pa ...
, is said to have observed, "The inmates are taking over the asylum." The four partners, with advice from McAdoo (son-in-law and former
Treasury Secretary The United States secretary of the treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury The Department of the Treasury (USDT) is the national treasury of the federal government of the United States The federal gover ...
of then-President
Woodrow Wilson Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of gove ...

Woodrow Wilson
), formed their distribution company, with Hiram Abrams as its first managing director. The original terms called for Pickford, Fairbanks, Griffith, and Chaplin to independently produce five pictures each year, but by the time the company got underway in 1920–1921,
feature films A feature film, or feature-length film, is a narrative film (motion picture or "movie") with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole presentation in a commercial entertainment program. The term ''feature film'' original ...
were becoming more expensive and more polished, and running times had settled at around ninety minutes (or eight reels). It was believed that no one, no matter how popular, could produce and star in five quality feature films a year. By 1924, Griffith had dropped out and the company was facing a crisis: either bring in others to help support a costly distribution system or concede defeat. The veteran producer
Joseph Schenck Joseph Michael Schenck (; December 25, 1876 – October 22, 1961) was a Russian-born American film studio executive. Life and career Schenck was born to a Russian Jews, Jewish family in Rybinsk, Yaroslavl Oblast, Russian Empire. He emigrated to ...
was hired as president. Not only had he been producing pictures for a decade, but he brought along commitments for films starring his wife,
Norma Talmadge Norma Marie Talmadge (May 2, 1894 – December 24, 1957) was an American actress and film producer of the silent era. A major box-office draw for more than a decade, her career reached a peak in the early 1920s, when she ranked among the most popu ...

Norma Talmadge
, his sister-in-law,
Constance Talmadge Constance Alice Talmadge (April 19, 1898 – November 23, 1973) was an American silent film A silent film is a film with no synchronized Sound recording and reproduction, recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). In silen ...
, and his brother-in-law,
Buster Keaton Joseph Frank Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966), known professionally as Buster Keaton, was an Americans, American actor, comedian, film director, producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer. He is best known for his silent films, in w ...

Buster Keaton
. Contracts were signed with a number of independent producers, especially
Samuel Goldwyn Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz; yi, שמואל געלבפֿיש; August 27, 1882 January 31, 1974), also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish-American Polish Americans ( pl, Polonia amerykańska) are Americans Americans are the ...
,
Howard Hughes Howard Robard Hughes Jr. (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was an American business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director, and Philanthropy, philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most influential ...

Howard Hughes
and later
Alexander Korda Sir Alexander Korda (; born Sándor László Kellner, 16 September 1893 – 23 January 1956)
. Schenck also formed a separate partnership with Pickford and Chaplin to buy and build theaters under the United Artists name. Still, even with a broadening of the company, UA struggled. The coming of sound ended the careers of Pickford and Fairbanks. Chaplin, rich enough to do what he pleased, worked only occasionally. Schenck resigned in 1933 to organize a new company with Darryl F. Zanuck,
Twentieth Century Pictures Twentieth Century Pictures, Inc., was an independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area o ...
, which soon provided four pictures a year to UA's schedule. He was replaced as president by sales manager Al Lichtman who himself resigned after only a few months. Pickford produced a few films, and at various times Goldwyn, Korda,
Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of ...
,
Walter Wanger Walter Wanger (né Feuchtwanger; July 11, 1894 – November 18, 1968) was an American film producer active in filmmaking beginning in the 1910s, concluding with the turbulent production of ''Cleopatra (1963 film), Cleopatra,'' his last film, in ...
, and
David O. Selznick David O. Selznick (May 10, 1902June 22, 1965) was an American film producer A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working Independent film, independently, producers plan and coordina ...
were made "producing partners" (i.e., sharing in the profits), but ownership still rested with the founders. As the years passed and the dynamics of the business changed, these "producing partners" drifted away. Goldwyn and Disney left for
RKO RKO Pictures was an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO) it was one of the Big FiveBig Five may refer to: Animals * th ...

RKO
, Wanger for
Universal Pictures Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also known as Universal Studios, or simply Universal; common metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an int ...
, Selznick and Korda for
retirement Retirement is the withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from one's active working life. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours or workload. Many people choose to retire when they are old or incapable of doing their job d ...

retirement
. By the late 1940s, United Artists had virtually ceased to exist as either a producer or distributor.


Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

In 1941,
Mary Pickford Gladys Marie Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American film actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the American film industry, she co-founded Pickf ...

Mary Pickford
,
Charles Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film A silent film is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture ...

Charles Chaplin
,
Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of ...
,
Orson Welles George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American director, actor, screenwriter, and producer who is remembered for his innovative work in radio, theatre and film. He is considered to be among the greatest and most in ...

Orson Welles
,
Samuel Goldwyn Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz; yi, שמואל געלבפֿיש; August 27, 1882 January 31, 1974), also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish-American Polish Americans ( pl, Polonia amerykańska) are Americans Americans are the ...
,
David O. Selznick David O. Selznick (May 10, 1902June 22, 1965) was an American film producer A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working Independent film, independently, producers plan and coordina ...
,
Alexander Korda Sir Alexander Korda (; born Sándor László Kellner, 16 September 1893 – 23 January 1956)
, and
Walter Wanger Walter Wanger (né Feuchtwanger; July 11, 1894 – November 18, 1968) was an American film producer active in filmmaking beginning in the 1910s, concluding with the turbulent production of ''Cleopatra (1963 film), Cleopatra,'' his last film, in ...
—many of the same people who were members of United Artists—founded the
Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American digital production company. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studio ...
. Later members included
William Cagney William Jerome Cagney (March 26, 1905 – January 3, 1988) was an American film producer and actor, remembered for roles in the Monogram Pictures Monogram Pictures Corporation is an American film studio that produced mostly low-budget films ...

William Cagney
,
Sol Lesser Sol Lesser (February 17, 1890 – September 19, 1980) was an American film producer. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a historic landmark which consists of more than 2,700 five-pointed terrazzo an ...
, and
Hal Roach Harry Eugene "Hal" Roach Sr. (January 14, 1892 – November 2, 1992) was an American film and television producer, director, actor and studio executive, who was the founder of the namesake Hal Roach Studios Hal Roach Studios was an American mo ...
. The Society aimed to preserve the rights of independent producers in an industry overwhelmingly controlled by the studio system. SIMPP fought to end monopolistic practices by the five major Hollywood studios which controlled the production, distribution, and exhibition of films. In 1942, the SIMPP filed an antitrust suit against Paramount's United Detroit Theatres. The complaint accused Paramount of conspiracy to control first-run and subsequent-run theaters in Detroit. It was the first antitrust suit brought by producers against exhibitors alleging monopoly and restraint of trade. In 1948, the
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the Federal judiciary of the United States, federal judiciary of the United States of America. It has ultimate and largely Procedures of the Supreme Court of the United ...

United States Supreme Court
Paramount Decision ordered the Hollywood movie studios to sell their theater chains and to eliminate certain anti-competitive practices. This effectively brought an end to the studio system of
Hollywood's Golden Age
Hollywood's Golden Age
. By 1958, many of the reasons for creating the SIMPP had been corrected and SIMPP closed its offices.


Low-budget films

The efforts of the SIMPP and the advent of inexpensive portable cameras during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
effectively made it possible for any person in America with an interest in making films to write, produce, and direct one without the aid of any
major film studio Major film studios are production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act of making products (goods and serv ...
. These circumstances soon resulted in a number of critically acclaimed and highly influential works, including
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's ''
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Meshes of the Afternoon
'' in 1943, Kenneth Anger's ''
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'' in 1947, and Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin and Ray Abrashkin's ''Little Fugitive (1953 film), Little Fugitive'' in 1953. Filmmakers such as Ken Jacobs with little or no formal training began to experiment with new ways of making and shooting films. ''Little Fugitive'' became the first independent film to be nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay at the American Academy Awards. It also received Silver Lion at Venice Film Festival, Venice. Both Engel and Anger's films won acclaim overseas from the burgeoning French New Wave, with ''Fireworks'' inspiring praise and an invitation to study under him in Europe from Jean Cocteau, and François Truffaut citing ''Little Fugitive'' as an essential inspiration to his seminal work, ''The 400 Blows''. As the 1950s progressed, the new low-budget paradigm of filmmaking gained increased recognition internationally, with films such as Satyajit Ray's critically acclaimed ''Apu Trilogy'' (1955–1959). Unlike the films made within the studio system, these new low-budget films could afford to take risks and explore new artistic territory outside the classical Hollywood narrative. Maya Deren was soon joined in New York by a crowd of like-minded avant-garde filmmakers who were interested in creating art films, films as works of art rather than entertainment. Based upon a common belief that the "official cinema" was "running out of breath" and had become "morally corrupt, aesthetically obsolete, thematically superficial, [and] temperamentally boring", this new crop of independents formed The Film-Makers' Cooperative, an artist-run, non-profit organization which they would use to distribute their films through a centralized archive. Founded in 1962 by Jonas Mekas, Stan Brakhage, Shirley Clarke, Gregory Markopoulos, and others, the Cooperative provided an important outlet for many of cinema's creative luminaries in the 1960s, including Jack Smith (film director), Jack Smith and Andy Warhol. When he returned to America, Ken Anger would debut many of his most important works there. Mekas and Brakhage would go on to found the Anthology Film Archives in 1970, which would likewise prove essential to the development and preservation of independent films, even to this day.


Exploitation boom and the MPAA rating system

Not all low-budget films existed as non-commercial art ventures. The success of films like ''Little Fugitive'', which had been made with low (or sometimes no budget film, non-existent) budgets encouraged a huge boom in popularity for non-studio films. Low-budget film making promised exponentially greater returns (in terms of percentages) if the film could have a successful run in the theaters. During this time, independent producer/director Roger Corman began a sweeping body of work that would become legendary for its frugality and grueling shooting schedule. Until his so-called "retirement" as a director in 1971 (he continued to produce films even after this date) he would produce up to seven movies a year, matching and often exceeding the five-per-year schedule that the executives at United Artists had once thought impossible. Like those of the avante-garde, the films of Roger Corman took advantage of the fact that unlike the studio system, independent films had never been bound by its self-imposed production code. Corman's example (and that of others like him) would help start a B movies (The exploitation boom), boom in independent B-movies in the 1960s, the principal aim of which was to bring in the youth marketing, youth market which the major studios had lost touch with. By promising Sex in film, sex, wanton violence in film, violence, Drug movie, drug use, and nudity in film, nudity, these films hoped to draw audiences to independent theaters by offering to show them what the major studios could not. Horror films, Horror and science fiction films experienced a period of tremendous growth during this time. As these tiny producers, theaters, and distributors continued to attempt to undercut one another, the B-grade shlock film soon fell to the level of the Z movie, a niche category of films with production values so low that they became a spectacle in their own right. The cult film, cult audiences these pictures attracted soon made them ideal candidates for midnight movie screenings revolving around audience participation and cosplay. In 1968, a young filmmaker named George A. Romero shocked audiences with ''Night of the Living Dead'', a new kind of intense and unforgiving independent horror film. This film was released just after the abandonment of the production code, but before the adoption of the MPAA rating system. As such, it was the first and last film of its kind to enjoy a completely unrestricted screening, in which young children were able to witness Romero's new brand of highly realistic gore. This film would help to set the climate of independent horror for decades to come, as films like ''The Texas Chain Saw Massacre'' (1974) and ''Cannibal Holocaust'' (1980) continued to push the envelope. With the production code abandoned and violent and disturbing films like Romero's gaining popularity, Hollywood opted to placate the uneasy filmgoing public with the MPAA ratings system, which would place restrictions on ticket sales to young people. Unlike the production code, this rating system posed a threat to independent films in that it would affect the number of tickets they could sell and cut into the grindhouse cinema's share of the youth market. This change would further widen the divide between commercial and non-commercial films. However, having a film audience-classified is strictly voluntary for independents and there's no legal impediment to releasing movies on an unrated basis. However, unrated movies face obstacles in marketing because media outlets such as TV channels, newspapers and websites often place their own restrictions on movies that don't come with a built-in national rating in order to avoid presenting movies to inappropriately young audiences.


New Hollywood and independent filmmaking

Following the advent of television and the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., Paramount Case, the major studios attempted to lure audiences with spectacle. Widescreen processes and technical improvements, such as Cinemascope, stereo sound, 3-D film#The "golden era" (1952–1955), 3-D and others, were developed in an attempt to retain the dwindling audience by giving them a larger-than-life experience. The 1950s and early 1960s saw a Hollywood dominated by musicals, historical epics, and other films which benefited from these advances. This proved commercially viable during most of the 1950s. However, by the late 1960s, audience share was dwindling at an alarming rate. Several costly flops, including ''Cleopatra (1963 film), Cleopatra'' (1963) and ''Hello, Dolly! (film), Hello, Dolly!'' (1969) put severe strain on the studios. Meanwhile, in 1951, lawyers-turned-producers Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin had made a deal with the remaining stockholders of United Artists which would allow them to make an attempt to revive the company and, if the attempt was successful, buy it after five years. The attempt was a success, and in 1955 United Artists became the first "studio" without an actual studio. UA leased space at the Pickford/Fairbanks Studio, but did not own a studio lot as such. Because of this, many of their films would be shot on location. Primarily acting as bankers, they offered money to independent producers. Thus UA did not have the overhead, the maintenance or the expensive production staff which ran up costs at other studios. UA went public in 1956, and as the other mainstream studios fell into decline, UA prospered, adding relationships with the Mirisch brothers, Billy Wilder, Joseph E. Levine and others. By the late 1950s, RKO had ceased film production, and the remaining four of the big five had recognized that they did not know how to reach the youth audience. In an attempt to capture this audience, the Studios hired a host of young filmmakers (many of whom were mentored by Roger Corman) and allowed them to make their films with relatively little studio control. Warner Brothers offered first-time producer Warren Beatty 40% of the gross on his film ''Bonnie and Clyde (film), Bonnie and Clyde'' (1967) instead of a minimal fee. The movie had grossed over $70 million worldwide by 1973. These initial successes paved the way for the studio to relinquish almost complete control to the film school generation and began what the media dubbed "New Hollywood." Dennis Hopper, the American actor, made his writing and directing debut with ''Easy Rider'' (1969). Along with his producer/co-star/co-writer Peter Fonda, Hopper was responsible for one of the first completely independent films of New Hollywood. ''Easy Rider'' debuted at Cannes film festival, Cannes and garnered the "First Film Award" (french: Prix de la premiere oeuvre) after which it received two Oscar nominations, one for best original screenplay and one for Corman-alum Jack Nicholson's breakthrough performance in the supporting role of George Hanson, an alcoholic lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. Following on the heels of ''Easy Rider'' shortly afterward was the revived United Artists' ''Midnight Cowboy'' (also 1969), which, like ''Easy Rider'', took numerous cues from Kenneth Anger and his influences in the French New Wave. It became the first and only X rated film to win the Academy Award for best picture. ''Midnight Cowboy'' also held the distinction of featuring Cameo appearance, cameo roles by many of the top Warhol superstars, who had already become symbols of the militantly anti-Hollywood climate of NYC's independent film community. Within a month, another young Corman trainee, Francis Ford Coppola, made his debut in Spain at the Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival with ''The Rain People'' (1969), a film he had produced through his own company, American Zoetrope. Though ''The Rain People'' was largely overlooked by American audiences, Zoetrope would become a powerful force in New Hollywood. Through Zoetrope, Coppola formed a distribution agreement with studio giant Warner Bros., which he would exploit to achieve wide releases for his films without making himself subject to their control. These three films provided the major Hollywood studios with both an example to follow and a new crop of talent to draw from. Zoetrope co-founder George Lucas made his feature film debut with ''THX 1138'' (1971), also released by Zoetrope through their deal with Warner Bros., announcing himself as another major talent of New Hollywood. By the following year, two New Hollywood directors had become sufficiently established for Coppola to be offered oversight of Paramount's ''The Godfather'' (1972) and Lucas had obtained studio funding for ''American Graffiti'' (1973) from Universal. In the mid-1970s, the major Hollywood studios continued to tap these new filmmakers for both ideas and personnel, producing films such as ''Paper Moon (film), Paper Moon'' (1973) and ''Taxi Driver'' (1976), all of which met with critical and commercial success. These successes by the members of New Hollywood led each of them, in turn, to make more and more extravagant demands, both on the studio and eventually on the audience. While most members of the New Hollywood generation were, or started out as, independent filmmakers, a number of their projects were produced and released by major studios. The New Hollywood generation soon became firmly entrenched in a revived incarnation of the studio system, which financed the development, production and distribution of their films. Very few of these filmmakers ever independently financed or independently released a film of their own, or ever worked on an independently financed production during the height of the generation's influence. Seemingly independent films such as ''Taxi Driver'', ''The Last Picture Show'' and others were studio films: the scripts were based on studio pitches and subsequently paid for by the studios, the production financing was from the studio, and the marketing and distribution of the films were designed and controlled by the studio's advertising agency. Though Coppola made considerable efforts to resist the influence of the studios, opting to finance his risky 1979 film ''Apocalypse Now'' himself rather than compromise with skeptical studio executives, he, and filmmakers like him, had saved the old studios from financial ruin by providing them with a new formula for success. Indeed, it was during this period that the very definition of an independent film became blurred. Though ''Midnight Cowboy'' was financed by United Artists, the company was certainly a studio. Likewise, Zoetrope was another "independent studio" which worked within the system to make a space for independent directors who needed funding. George Lucas would leave Zoetrope in 1971 to create his own independent studio, Lucasfilm, which would produce the blockbuster (entertainment), blockbuster ''Star Wars'' and ''Indiana Jones (franchise), Indiana Jones'' franchises. In fact, the only two movies of the movement which can be described as uncompromisingly independent are ''Easy Rider'' at the beginning, and Peter Bogdanovich's ''They All Laughed'', at the end. Peter Bogdanovich bought back the rights from the studio to his 1980 film and paid for its distribution out of his own pocket, convinced that the picture was better than what the studio believed — he eventually went bankrupt because of this. In retrospect, it can be seen that Steven Spielberg's ''Jaws (film), Jaws'' (1975) and George Lucas's ''Star Wars (film), Star Wars'' (1977) marked the beginning of the end for the New Hollywood. With their unprecedented box-office successes, these movies jump-started Hollywood's blockbuster mentality, giving studios a new paradigm as to how to make money in this changing commercial landscape. The focus on high-concept premises, with greater concentration on tie-in merchandise (such as toys), spin-offs into other media (such as soundtracks), and the use of sequels (which had been made more respectable by Coppola's ''The Godfather Part II''), all showed the studios how to make money in the new environment. On realizing how much money could potentially be made in films, major corporations started buying up the remaining Hollywood studios, saving them from the oblivion which befell RKO in the 50s. Eventually, even RKO was revived, the corporate mentality these companies brought to the filmmaking business would slowly squeeze out the more idiosyncratic of these young filmmakers, while ensconcing the more malleable and commercially successful of them. Film critic Manohla Dargis described this era as the "halcyon age" of the decade's filmmaking that "was less revolution than business as usual, with rebel hype". She also pointed out in her ''NY Times'' article, its enthusiasts insisting this was "when American movies grew up (or at least starred underdressed actresses); when directors did what they wanted (or at least were transformed into brands); when creativity ruled (or at least ran gloriously amok, albeit often on the studio's dime)."


Outside Hollywood

During the 1970s, shifts in thematic depictions of sexuality and violence occurred in American cinema, prominently featuring heightened depictions of realistic sex and violence. Directors who wished to reach mainstream audiences of Old Hollywood quickly learned to Aestheticization of violence, stylize these themes to make their films appealing and attractive rather than repulsive or obscene. However, at the same time that the maverick film students of the American New Wave were developing the skills they would use to take over Hollywood, many of their peers had begun to develop their style of filmmaking in a different direction. Influenced by foreign and Art film, art house directors such as Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, exploitation shockers (i.e. Joseph P. Mawra, Michael Findlay (filmmaker), Michael Findlay, and Henri Pachard) and avant-garde cinema, (Kenneth Anger,
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Maya Deren
and Bruce Conner) a number of young film makers began to experiment with transgression not as a box-office draw, but Transgressive art, as an artistic act. Directors such as John Waters (filmmaker), John Waters and David Lynch would make a name for themselves by the early 1970s for the bizarre and often disturbing imagery which characterized their films. When Lynch's first feature film, ''Eraserhead'' (1977), brought Lynch to the attention of producer Mel Brooks, he soon found himself in charge of the $5 million film ''The Elephant Man (film), The Elephant Man'' (1980) for Paramount. Though ''Eraserhead'' was strictly an out-of-pocket, low-budget, independent film, Lynch made the transition with unprecedented grace. The film was a huge commercial success, and earned eight Academy Awards, Academy Award nominations, including Academy Award for Best Director, Best Director and Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay nods for Lynch. It also established his place as a commercially viable, if somewhat dark and unconventional,
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Hollywood
director. Seeing Lynch as a fellow studio convert, George Lucas, a fan of ''Eraserhead'' and now the darling of the studios, offered Lynch the opportunity to direct his next ''Star Wars'' sequel, ''Return of the Jedi'' (1983). However, Lynch had seen what had happened to Lucas and his comrades in arms after their failed attempt to do away with the studio system. He refused the opportunity, stating that he would rather work on his own projects. Lynch instead chose to direct a big budget adaptation of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel ''Dune (novel), Dune'' for Italy, Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis's De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, on the condition that the company release a second Lynch project, over which the director would have complete creative control. Although De Laurentiis hoped it would be the next ''Star Wars (film), Star Wars'', Lynch's ''Dune (1984 film), Dune'' (1984) was a critical and commercial flop, grossing a mere $27.4 million domestically against a $45 million budget. De Laurentiis, furious that the film had been a commercial disaster, was then forced to produce any film Lynch desired. He offered Lynch only $6 million in order to minimize the risk if the film had failed to recoup its costs; however, the film, ''Blue Velvet (film), Blue Velvet'' (1986) was a resounding success earning him another Academy Award for Best Director nod. Lynch subsequently returned to independent filmmaking, and did not work with another major studio for over a decade. Unlike the former, John Waters released most of his films during his early life through his own production company, Dreamlanders, Dreamland Productions. In the early 1980s, New Line Cinema agreed to work with him on ''Polyester (film), Polyester'' (1981). During the 1980s, Waters would become a pillar of the New York–based independent film movement known as the "Cinema of Transgression", a term coined by Nick Zedd in 1985 to describe a loose-knit group of like-minded New York artists using shock value and humor in their super 8mm, Super 8 mm films and video art. Other key players in this movement included Kembra Pfahler, Casandra Stark, Beth B, Tommy Turner, Richard Kern and Lydia Lunch. Rallying around such institutions as the Film-Makers' Cooperative and Anthology Film Archives, this new generation of independents devoted themselves to the defiance of the now-establishment New Hollywood, proposing that "all film schools be blown up and all boring films never be made again." The development of no-budget film production company ASS Studios in 2011 brought guerrilla style tactics to their filmmaking. Founded by Courtney Fathom Sell & Reverend Jen Miller, the now-defunct studio would utilize local performers and locations from the Lower East Side of New York City to create various short films which would then be screened in venues such as bars and Anthology Film Archives. Though mainly recognized for their short films, the studios' first and only feature Satan, Hold My Hand was made on a budget of just $27.00 while featuring an A-list Hollywood cast including Janeane Garofalo and was Produced by Jonathan Ames, writer and creator of the HBO series Bored to Death.


Independent Cinema movement

In 1978, Sterling Van Wagenen and Charles Gary Allison, with Chairperson Robert Redford, (veteran of New Hollywood and star of ''Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'') founded the Utah/US Film Festival in an effort to attract more filmmakers to Utah and showcase what the potential of independent film could be. At the time, the main focus of the event was to present a series of retrospective films and filmmaker panel discussions; however it also included a small program of new independent films. The jury of the 1978 festival was headed by Charles Gary Allison, Gary Allison, and included Verna Fields, Linwood Gale Dunn, Katharine Ross, Katherine Ross, Charles E. Sellier Jr., Mark Rydell, and Anthea Sylbert. In 1981, the same year that United Artists, bought out by MGM after the financial failure of Michael Cimino's ''Heaven's Gate (film), Heaven's Gate'' (1980), ceased to exist as a venue for independent filmmakers, Sterling Van Wagenen left the film festival to help found the Sundance Institute with Robert Redford. In 1985, the now well-established Sundance Institute, headed by Sterling Van Wagenen, took over management of the US Film Festival, which was experiencing financial difficulties. Gary Beer and Sterling Van Wagenen spearheaded production of the inaugural Sundance Film Festival which included Program Director Tony Safford and Administrative Director Jenny Walz Selby. In 1991, the festival was officially renamed the ''Sundance Film Festival'', after Redford's famous role as The Sundance Kid. Through this festival the Independent Cinema movement was launched. Such notable figures as Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Soderbergh, James Wan, Hal Hartley, Joel and Ethan Coen and Jim Jarmusch garnered resounding critical acclaim and unprecedented box office sales. In 2005, about 15% of the United States, U.S. domestic box office revenue was from independent studios.


Co-optation

The 1990s saw the rise and success of independent films not only through the film festival circuit but at the box office as well while established actors, such as
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Bruce Willis
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John Travolta John Joseph Travolta (born February 18, 1954) is an American actor and singer. He came to public attention during the 1970s, appearing on the television sitcom ''Welcome Back, Kotter'' (1975–1979) and starring in the box office successes Carri ...

John Travolta
, and Tim Robbins, found success themselves both in independent films and Hollywood studio films. ''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990 film), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'' in 1990 from New Line Cinema grossed over $100 million in the United States making it the most successful indie film in box-office history to that point.McDonald, Paul and Wasco, Janet. The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry. Malden, MA, US: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. p 29 Miramax Films had a string of hits with ''Sex, Lies, and Videotape'', ''My Left Foot'', and ''Clerks (1994 film), Clerks'', putting Miramax and New Line Cinema in the sights of big companies looking to cash in on the success of independent studios. In 1993, Disney bought Miramax for $60 million. Turner Broadcasting, in a billion-dollar deal, acquired New Line Cinema, Fine Line Features, and Castle Rock Entertainment in 1994. The acquisitions proved to be a good move for Turner Broadcasting as New Line released ''The Mask (1994 film), The Mask'' and ''Dumb and Dumber, Dumb & Dumber'', Castle Rock released ''The Shawshank Redemption'', and Miramax released ''
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'', all in 1994. The acquisitions of the smaller studios by conglomerate Hollywood was a plan in part to take over the independent film industry and at the same time start "independent" studios of their own. The following are all "indie" studios owned by conglomerate Hollywood: * Sony Pictures Classics (1992–present) * Searchlight Pictures (1994–present) * Paramount Vantage (1998–2013) * Focus Features (2002–present) * Warner Independent Pictures (2003–2008) **Castle Rock Entertainment (1987–present) By the early 2000s, Hollywood was producing three different classes of films: 1) big-budget Blockbuster (entertainment)#Blockbuster films, blockbusters, 2) art films, specialty films and niche-market films produced by the conglomerate-owned "indies" and 3) genre and specialty films coming from true indie studios and producers. The third category comprised over half the features released in the United States and usually cost between $5 and $10 million to produce. Hollywood was producing these three different classes of feature films by means of three different types of producers. The superior products were the large, budget blockbusters and high-cost star vehicles marketed by the six major studio producer-distributors. Budgets on the major studios' pictures averaged $100 million, with approximately one-third of it spent on marketing because of the large release campaigns. Another class of Hollywood feature film included art films, specialty films, and other niche-market fare controlled by the conglomerates' indie subsidiaries. Budgets on these indie films averaged $40 million per release in the early 2000s, with $10 million to $15 million spent on marketing (MPA, 2006:12). The final class of film consisted of genre and specialty films whose release campaigns were administered by independent producer-distributors with only a few dozen or possibly a few hundred screens in select urban markets. Films like these usually cost less than $10 million, but frequently less than $5 million, with small marketing budgets that escalate if and when a particular film performs.


Internationally

The Independent film industry exists globally. Many of the most prestigious film festivals are hosted in various cities around the world. The Berlin International Film Festival attracts over 130 countries, making it the largest film festival in the world. Other large events include the Toronto International Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, and the Panafrican Film and TV Festival of Ouagadougou. The European Union, specifically through the European Cinema and VOD Initiative (ECVI), has established programs that attempt to adapt the film industry to an increasing digital demand for film on video on demand services, outside of theatrical screenings. With this program, VOD offerings are paired with traditional movie screenings. There is also more of a push from EU National governments to fund all aspects of the arts, including film. The European Commission for Culture has an Audiovisual sector, for example, whose role is most notably to help distribute and promote films and festivals across Europe. Additionally, the Commission organizes policymaking, research, and reporting on "media literacy" and "digital distribution."


Technology and democratization

As with other media, the availability of new technologies has fueled the democratization of filmmaking and the growth of independent film. In the late forties and fifties, new inexpensive portable cameras made it easier for independent filmmakers to produce content without studio backing. The emergence of camcorders in the eighties broadened the pool of filmmakers experimenting with the newly available technology. More recently, the switch from film to digital cameras, inexpensive non-linear editing and the move to distribution via the internet have led to more people being able to make and exhibit movies of their own, including young people and individuals from marginalized communities. These people may have little to no formal technical or academic training, but instead are autodidactic filmmakers, using online sources to learn the craft. Aspiring filmmakers can range from those simply with access to a smartphone or digital camera, to those who write "spec" scripts (to pitch to studios), actively network, and use crowdsourcing and other financing to get their films professionally produced. Oftentimes, aspiring filmmakers have other day-jobs to support themselves financially while they pitch their scripts and ideas to independent film production companies, talent agents, and wealthy investors. This recent technology-fueled renaissance has helped fuel other supporting industries such as the "prosumer" camera segment and film schools for those who are less autodidactic. Film programs in universities such as NYU in New York and USC in Los Angeles have benefited from this transitional growth.


Crowdsourced funding

The economic side of filmmaking is also less of an obstacle than before, because the backing of a major studio is no longer needed to access necessary movie funding. Crowdfunding services like Kickstarter, Pozible, and Tubestart have helped people raise thousands of dollars; enough to fund their own, low-budget productions. As a result of the falling cost of technology to make, edit and digitally distribute films, filmmaking is more widely accessible than ever before. Full-length films are often showcased at film festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival, South By Southwest (SXSW) film festival, Raindance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and Palm Springs Film Festival. Award winners from these exhibitions are more likely to get picked up for distribution by major film distributors. Film festivals and screenings like these are just one of the options in which movies can be independently produced/released.


Analog to digital

The development of independent film in the 1990s and 21st century has been stimulated by a range of technical innovations, including the development of affordable digital cinematography cameras that can exceed the quality of film and easy-to-use computer editing software. Until digital alternatives became available, the cost of professional film equipment and stock was a major obstacle to independent filmmakers who wanted to make their own films. Successful films such as the ''Blair Witch Project'' (which grossed over US$248.6 million while only spending US$60,000) have emerged from this new accessibility to filmmaking tools. In 2002, the cost of 35mm movie film, 35 mm Negative (photography), film stock went up 23%, according to ''Variety (magazine), Variety''.Sharing Pix is Risky Business
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The advent of consumer camcorders in 1985, and more importantly, the arrival of digital video in the early 1990s, lowered the technology barrier to movie production. The personal computer and non-linear editing system have taken away the use of editing stands such as the KEM, dramatically reducing the costs of post-production, while technologies such as DVD, Blu-ray Disc and online video services have simplified distribution; video streaming services have made it possible to distribute a digital version of a film to an entire country or even the world, without involving shipping or warehousing of physical DVDs or film reels. 3-D film, 3-D technology is available to low-budget, independent filmmakers. By the second decade of the 21st century high-quality cellphone cameras allowed people to made, edit and distribute films on a single inexpensive device. One of the examples of such a new indie approach to filmmaking is the 1999 Oscar-nominated documentary film ''Genghis Blues'' that was shot by the Belic brothers on two Hi8 consumer camcorders and won that year's Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for a Documentary. At the time, distribution was still film-based so the movie had to be "filmed out" from interlaced digital video format to film running at traditional 24-frame per second rate, so interlacing artefacts are noticeable at times. In 2004 Panasonic released the DVX100 camcorder, which featured film-like 24-frame per second shooting rate. This gave independent filmmakers the ability to shoot video at a frame rate considered standard for movies at the time and opened the possibility of clean digital frame to film frame conversion. Several acclaimed films were made with this camera, for example ''Iraq in Fragments''. More recent devices allow "filming" at very high frame rates to facilitate distribution into a number of frame rates without artifacts. Even though new cinema cameras such as the Arriflex Alexa, Arri Alexa, Red Digital Cinema Camera Company, RED Epic, and the many new Digital single-lens reflex camera, DSLRs cost thousands of dollars to purchase, independent films are still cheaper than ever, creating footage that looks like 35 mm film without the same high cost. These cameras also perform better than traditional film because of its ability to perform in extremely dark/low light situations relative to film. In 2008 Nikon released the first DSLR camera that could also shoot video, the Nikon D90. With the sensor larger than on a traditional camcorder, these DSLRs allow for a greater control over depth of field, great low-light capabilities, and a large variety of exchangeable lenses, including lenses from old film cameras – things which independent filmmakers have been longing years. With the creation of new, light-weight and accessible cinema cameras, documentaries have also benefitted greatly. It was previously impossible to capture the extreme wild of mother nature because of the lack of maneuverability with film cameras; however, with the creation of DSLRs, documentary filmmakers were able to reach hard-to-get places in order to capture what they couldn't have with film cameras. Cameras have even been attached to animals to allow them to help film never-before-seen scenes. New technologies have also allowed the development of new cinematic techniques originating in independent films, such as the development of the zoom lens in the early 20th century. The use of the (controversial) hand-held shot made popular in the ground-breaking ''The Blair Witch Project'' also lead to an entirely new subgenre: the Found footage (film technique), found-footage film. Independent filmmaking has also benefited from the new editing software. Instead of needing a post-house to do the editing, independent film makers use a personal computer or even just a cellphone with editing software to edit their films. Editing software available include Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, (Color Grading Software) DaVinci Resolve, and List of video editing software, many more. There are also many free tutorials and courses available online to teach different post production skills needed to use these programs. These new technologies allow independent film makers to create films that are comparable to high-budget films. Computer-generated imaging (CGI) has also become more accessible, transitioning from a highly specialized process done by post-production companies into a task that can be performed by independent artists. Francis Ford Coppola, long an advocate of new technologies like non-linear editing system, non-linear editing and digital cameras, said in 2007 that "cinema is escaping being controlled by the financier, and that's a wonderful thing. You don't have to go hat-in-hand to some film distributor and say, 'Please will you let me make a movie?'"


Independent films 2010–present

In recent years, with both the increased production and waning interest of major studio sequels, more and more independent films have been at the forefront of major award wins with upset Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Picture Academy Awards, Oscar wins for ''Spotlight (film), Spotlight'' at the 88th Academy Awards, 2016 awards, ''Moonlight (2016 film), Moonlight'' at the 89th Academy Awards, 2017 awards and ''Nomadland (film), Nomadland'' at the 93rd Academy Awards, 2021 awards had, and continues to have, a major impact on box office intake on major studio films in the present era.


See also

* British Independent Film Awards * Independent Spirit Awards * List of film festivals * Outline of film * Independent animation * American Eccentric Cinema


References


Further reading

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External links


The Edge of Hollywood - Annenberg Learner
{{DEFAULTSORT:Independent Film Independent films, Film genres Film and video terminology