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Monday, December 29, 2008

I guess I can ask the same thing about independent filmmakers

While I was searching the web for a new term to identify the fact that a lot of people in America loudly take pride in being outsiders - certain presidents, certain super famous Hollywood film directors , etc. - even though they are very much the so called establishment or the ultimate insiders at a certain moment in time or in a certain field of activity - I ran across an article called Quilt-Makers: Exotic Outsiders or Mainstream Artists? From the article:

"Shortly before his death in the Marquesas Islands the painter Gauguin considered returning to France. His agent Monfreid advised against such a move; the success of Gauguin's paintings depended, Monfreid suggested, on his reputation as a wild man, an exile from civilization. In the ninety-odd years since then the art world hasn't lost its yearning for the exotic, for art that seems to originate in a place, condition of life, or state of mind or consciousness not directly accessible to the art consumer.

Sometimes the artist has been valued as an emissary from a remote or vanishing culture, other times as a returning traveler from uncharted and possibly dangerous mental territory. Many mainstream art movements -- fauvism, cubism, surrealism, the several schools of expressionism -- and various kinds of outsider art, including traditional quilts, have derived some of their appeal, I think, from the lure of the exotic."

So, those two paragraphs lead me to two ideas: one - people like indie movies that seem very outsider-ish, that tell stories featuring characters who are far removed from their (the audience's) ordinary existence (Drugstore Cowboy, Dead Man, Ghost Dog, etc.), so we should keep that in mind when making movies - a little bit of freak show-ness might make some audiences happy.

The second idea is - is independent film an exotic or otherwise outsider art form or is it just mainstream art/entertainment at this point? I guess that depends on which indie film you are talking about. Both Yeast and Juno are indie films - or can or are labeled as such - but one is definitely a lot more of an outsider thing than the other.

A related idea is that if you see yourself as an indie filmmaker do you see yourself as an outsider artist or do you see yourself as a mainstream artist/entertainer? And based on those perceptions - what kind of reward do you expect from practicing the making of independent movies - to be admired by a few people who recognize what you do as perhaps valuable or do you expect to be rewarded with a lot more by more people?

My own answer to the above set of questions - the ideal situation - would be to have a little from both worlds - the freedom of creativity of the outsider artist and the gratification that comes from being accessible - having ones work be accessible - to a large number of people. Some kind of an indie-populist situation. That has been done through indie/DIY comedies and docs in the past - so maybe a realistic goal for certain projects.

Any thoughts on those subjects?

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