On Monday, we proudly presented the inaugural Indiewire Influencers list — 40 of the people and companies who have captured our attention as they strive to figure out what the independent film industry is today and, more importantly, what it will become in our current age of change.
It’s the first time we’ve ever done a list like this, and we’re happy to say that the response has been terrific — better than we could have hoped. It’s an intimidating process, trying to define what’s important about an industry — much less when you’re trying to define the elements that are placing an industry in flux. We hope that where we succeeded — and failed — will provide fodder for conversations about where the industry is headed.
And in that spirit, we wanted to respond to some of the feedback we’ve gotten about the list in order to further lay out our intentions and to address questions about our selections. For us, thinking about who’s doing important work for the future of film is a year-round concern — and the best resources we have are you. Please leave your thoughts, ideas and criticisms on Influencers — and suggestions for nominees you’d like to see — in the comments.
Why isn’t __________ on this list? He/she is a pillar of indie film.
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— Christine Vachon (@kvpi) June 17, 2013
Harvey Weinstein is a major force in the independent film world, but you may have noticed that you won’t find him on our Influencers list. Nor will you see many other obvious, established figures from the industry. When we approached this list, we did so with the intention not to simply line up the usual suspects, whose contributions to indie film have already been well-documented and celebrated. We wanted instead to call out the people, companies and organizations we saw as representative of the changing face of industry at a time of flux — those who reflect our current search for new models for distribution, monetization and storytelling in a digital present. This means that many important figures in indie film were left off — not to suggest in any way that they aren’t pivotal to the industry, but simply because they didn’t fall within the specific focus of our lineup.
The list is entirely focused on North America. Where’s the rest of the world?
— Neil Young (UK) (@JigsawLounge) June 17, 2013
It’s true: Our Influencers list is comprised of people and companies based in the U.S. This is not because we see the independent film movement as a solely American one. We absolutely do not. The conscious choice to limit the scope of this first iteration of the list was based on Indiewire’s sense of where our own expertise lies. This was a huge endeavor — and our first crack at it — and we felt it best to keep it America-centric because it’s the realm on which we report and the one we know best. There’s no question that indie film is a global phenomenon, and for future editions we want to broaden the scope to include influencers from the rest of the world. The industry, we think, is currently figuring out just what the Internet may mean for global distribution. Perhaps international indie Influencers might be better evaluated by journalists covering each country, who know their own homegrown industry rather than looking at it through what becomes available on the international festival scene and the Internet.
This list has way too many pale males.
— Miranda Bailey (@ambushent) June 17, 2013
We’ve gotten criticism about our list being short on women and people of color. To which we say: Yup. You’re right. Like most industries in America, indie film is dominated by white men (though it’s much, much more diverse than the studio industry). It’s not our place to create an illusion of equality in an industry where it doesn’t yet exist. We look forward to the day when a list like would naturally be gender balanced and offer racial and ethnic representations in line with or greater than America’s general population demographics. That said, we want parity, badly. Tell us about the candidates we missed.
Why are there no film critics on the list?
— Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg) June 17, 2013
In our early discussions about candidates for the Influencers list, we were certain that Roger Ebert deserved a spot. Ebert’s impact on the industry was undeniable and multifaceted: His advocacy for various films was matched by his continuing ability to champion the value of criticism in society and provide encouragement for various peers. Sadly, his unfortunate passing in early April made it impossible for us to include him. Countless other critics no doubt play crucial roles in various aspects of the film industry, impacting which movies we talk about and how we talk about them. Our Criticwire Network, currently 500 critics strong and growing, reflects the vital community of critical voices active today, and the Criticwire blog regularly singles out some of the best criticism out there.
However, the sheer volume of critics producing work today makes it difficult in the wake of Ebert’s passing to identify a single person who carries the torch of the profession and, more specifically, represents its place in evolving film culture. That being said, we’re actively searching for people who continue to forge new ground in the landscape of film criticism in boundary-pushing ways akin to the innovations of those featured on our Influencers list. We welcome readers to write in candidates in the comments.