Over the weekend at the 54th New York Film Festival, IndieWire celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special panel sponsored by Kodak that looked back on how much the indie film scene has evolved over the past two decades. Panelists included a diverse group of essential indie voices, from actress-director Rose McGowan to documentarians Steve James and Roger Ross Williams, filmmaker Ira Sachs and director-cinematographer Ellen Kuras.
Moderated by IndieWire Deputy Editor and Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn, the one-hour discussion tracked the evolution of indies from the 1990s into the new millennium, highlighting important events that have helped shape the indie world like the origins of crowdfunding and the writers strike.
The entire panel is now available to stream online, courtesy of The Film Society of Lincoln Center, and it concludes with some great advice from the panelists to aspiring indie filmmakers.
“Remember where you come from,” advised Kuras, who has shot landmark indies like Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.” “Keep your passion there in front of you, that’s the driving thing in the independent world I think – the passion to be able to say what’s inside of you and put your message out there.”
Added McGowan, who has recently found success behind the camera with the short film “Dawn,” “Put one foot in front of the other…consider every aspect of filmmaking and I think consider yourself as a storyteller that is responsible for what you do and put out in the world. Make it good. It’s just as hard to make ‘Bikini Car Wash 3,’ so you might as well not.”
“Make films about things you know more than anyone else does,” concluded Sachs. “Make a community for yourself. Devote yourself to other people who are making movies and care about other people because eventually you need each other…And finally, as an indie filmmaker it’s very important to equate being a producer with being a director, and not think that there’s someone else who’s going to be a parent or take care of you.”
Hear about all of the panelist’s past 20 years in the indie film scene in the video below.