Last week I posted, on Twitter and Facebook, that I was "contemplating the increasingly striking tension between art and industry." That comment came after a lengthy email exchange with a good friend who was reacting to the recent James Stern keynote speech at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The remarks struck my friend, a New York indie filmmaker, as being too focused on the business of movies. Must filmmakers really ponder profits and the marketplace, my friend wondered? "NO!" he exclaimed in the email, reacting to a recent spate of iW articles about the business side of indie filmmaking.
Do painters or writers or musicians create only when there might be a market for their work? If not, then why should filmmakers? How does all of this talk about saving the industry for indie filmmakers preserve personal filmmaking? "Seriously," he continued, "This shit makes me want to quit."
After a moment of defensiveness, I conceded that at indieWIRE we're *trying* to be an umbrella that can contain numerous perspectives, points-of-view, and ideologies that are increasingly at odds. But, as I later posted in that Twitter and Facebook post, it's hard to see some of these impulses find common ground.
"That makes two of us," reacted Peter Sollett, director of "Raising Victor Vargas" and "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist." "I have to hope some very very good rebellion will come from all this," Allison Anders, director of "Gas Food Lodging" and "Mi Vida Loca," responded a few minutes later on Facebook.
"Now it's art or industry - the and has been taken away," declared Lesli Klainberg from Orchard Films and NewFest.
Words like James Stern's recent speech, or comments from an LA fest panel about indie financing seem primarily aimed at making movies more profitable for investors rather than pushing the boundaries of personal cinema. In this economically challenging time, with people in the film business losing their jobs every day, many American companies seem to be cutting back and often taking fewer risks. Yet, in Cannes this year we saw a steady stream of seemingly unmarketable international films, many of which found (or will soon find) a home in this country.
"Are we fighting to preserve a business or an artform," I later wondered.
Well, we'll certainly continue to explore both art and commerce here at iW, but yesterday the issue came up again. So today, we're aiming to reiterate our support for art.
A new idea
I'd heard rumors about impending changes at IFC.com but when David Hudson announced his immediate departure from The Daily at IFC.com yesterday, it really hit home. Over six years, at GreenCine Daily and then IFC Daily, Hudson wrote an essential column, filtering news, perspectives and insights on cinema. His links were vital and have had a big impact on me, and on indieWIRE, over the years.
David vows to return and in a recent email exchange he assured me that he is close to settling on a new online home and hopes to be back later this summer, hopefully in about a month or so. But, David's departure -- however brief -- is worrisome because he filled such an important daily role. In short, David Hudson's absence is bad for film culture.
So, responding to his abrupt shift online, today at indieWIRE we're launching a new column. It's called cinemadaily and it's aimed at offering a regular, aggregated snapshot of what's happening in film. We'll attempt to pick up the slack in some small way, to do some of what David did by surveying the landscape of cinema on a daily basis (from an art rather than commerce perspective). And, we'll add our own twist. We understand it won't won't be the same as David's work and will surely evolve. This is an experiment, but it needs to be done.
Today's first installment, written by our own Andy Lauer. We start by simply taking a look at some striking new movies opening in theaters today.
To make cinemadaily work, it's crucial to me that we engage our readers in the process. Please send along your feedback, ideas or links to cinemadaily AT indiewire DOT com or find us on Twitter: @iWcinemadaily. What is happening in cinema in your city or neighborhood? If you find a link, or have written something, that you think we should take a look at please share it with us (and tell us why its important), we'll try to include as many as we can as we develop this new idea.
And, as always, thanks for reading and responding.