After experiencing the cool world of independent film at the Sundance Film Festival and studying it at St. Mary’s I feel refreshed and eager to learn more. The taboos of mainstream content and the constraints of big budgets and box office numbers don’t concern independent film, allowing them to talk about everything mainstream films cannot. The topics in independent films range from ideological clashes and the experience of living in different cultures to videogames and internet culture. Everything about independent films involves risk and danger, and without knowing about this world that exists outside the mainstream you might think movies have become boring. Everything from comedies to horror movies becomes heightened in extremity and gnarlier in independent movies; I saw dozens of people walking out of SVHS because it proved too gruesome for some of the audience to stomach. Seeing that kind of reaction in a movie doesn’t happen even in the scariest of movies in any of the major theatres, but it seems clear that independent film is all about making you think. Independent films can have discussions about film as an art form; these discussions don’t exist in the mainstream culture. As we move into independent films we can move beyond the mythology of movie stars and pop culture and into discussions about psychology and sociology, urgent issues that need to be discussed. I have now seen independent movies that devote an hour and a half to simply question what the purpose of watching a movie is through the use of surreal images and absurd humor. After watching a movie like that you can sometimes just sit there in shock, it might take you a few days to really absorb the lessons of the movie. Writing about the movies helps too, seeing a movie that you might not understand the first time happens in independent films. But all of these strange quirks and oddities that occur in independent films exist because there is a community of artists who love to watch movies and to make films. This community accepts new ideas with open arms and keeps an eye on the horizon for the next big thing. After seeing this community of Independent film and how powerful it is, I now understand where the major players in movie business get their ideas.
Sundance acts like a giant testing ground for new movies; everything that I experienced was geared towards welcoming anybody and everybody to participate in the discussion. The festival made it easy to get movie tickets, free to get around to anywhere in the festival, and fun to talk to all the people who showed up. By having such an open and welcoming atmosphere I hoped to contribute and become a part of the filmmaker’s career, I imagined where each director would go next and how far each movie would go. I enjoyed every movie I saw for different reasons; I respected all of the movies for being so different. I could tell how the filmmakers had the chance to inspire many people at this festival. This makes it a deep feeling of community; the people there come for the opportunity to become famous and successful but also know that just having the chance to be there also pushes the art form and might inspire others. The festival provided a great market for films and I could see that even some of the more obscure films have a better chance of getting some money with new technologies such as Netflix and Fandor, websites have the power to distribute films that otherwise would not get released. The ability for Sundance to showcase movies now has grown to become more effective than ever and I am sure the competition to show your work at Sundance has only increased. The variation in work from the very mainstream to the very independent gives the festival a sense of incredible depth and makes it an amazing place to market films. I think just seeing this variation at Sundance made me see how much more I have to explore within the world of independent film.