09 February 2010

Indie? Studio? Screw It. Entertain.

by Tyler Weaver.  Follow me on Twitter.

Judy Berman's article from Flavorwire, "Why is Indie Film Dying While Indie Music Thrives?" has, to say the least, stirred some argument, such as Filmmaker Magazine's Scott Macaulay in his response "How Cool is Indie Film?" and all over the Twitterverse. 

I don't think "indie" film is dying at all.  I think it's being reshaped - the very definition of "indie" is undergoing transformation in that there really is no single definition.  Everyone has their own.   "Indie" film has a bright future, but I think one thing needs to happen before that future can be bright - the abandonment of the term in all creative fields. 

For many, "indie" is used as a badge of honor, "I'm an independent artist..." or a crutch, "I can't get the money because I'm an indie."  The term "indie" is  utilized and defined in so many ways that it's lost all meaning.  There's a stigma to it, there's a badge of honor.  "Indie" is controversial. "Indie" is better.  "Indie" is worse.  "Indie" is quirky.  "Indie" is hard core.  "Indie" is real.  "Indie" is a stepping stone.  And worst of all - "Indie" is an excuse.

That's just a small smattering of how "indie" is used across all forms of art, criticism, study, and pop culture (another term that should be abandoned).  There's no single definition, and that deadens the creative title we creatives work so hard at mastering. 

Filmmaker.  Photographer. Comic Book Creator.  Writer.  Musician.  Add "indie" to that and see what connotations arise - both good and bad.

In Michael Chabon's wonderful book of non-fiction essays, Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands, he writes "I read for entertainment, and I write to entertain.  Period."  Entertainment is entertainment, and in spite of what we may think, we're here to entertain, to illuminate, and to please ourselves and hopefully an audience, because unless we do that - there's no "next project."

Why do we have to be "indie?"  Can't we just be filmmakers? Authors? Musicians?  I don't care about being cool.  I care about being good, always improving, and entertaining.

As I wrote yesterday on Maria Lokken's site, the wall between audience and creator is gone, and as that wall goes down, "indie" and "studio" or "mass produced" blur together.  People want to be entertained, and we need to be there to do it for them.  Once we stop, then not just "indie" film or "indie" music will die - but entertainment as a whole.

Stop labeling.  Stop excusing.  Make content.  Deliver.  Entertain.  The how and means to which you get there are immaterial (studio, independent funding - oops, there's another one).  What matters is HOW you entertain.  That's your voice.

Entertainment is entertainment.  Who cares where it comes from?  Just be sure you're the one entertaining and that you do so with a voice.  That's true independence, and the only kind that matters.

And as long as people have a brain and a creative streak, it's not going anywhere.

And yes.  I'm going to practice what I preach and make a conscious effort to remove the prefices "indie" and "independent" from my Filmmaker credit.  I am what I am. 

Tyler Weaver is an independent filmmaker and unrelenting multi-hyphenate, a regular contributor to the pulptone.com website, and is the founder and EIC of Multi-Hyphenate... which you're reading right now.  He's currently making new things...


The Dark Scribe said...

For what it's worth, when people ask about my hiatus plans, I invariably say: "I'm working on a film with my neighbor. He's a filmmaker."

Never even occurred to me to add "independent" to the name.

Also, I remember in the early 2000s when small- and mid-level authors tried to force the "independent" label on themselves, basically by wearing tight jeans and eyeliner. Not surprisingly, it didn't work. In part because of the nature of publishing--if you self-publish, I guess you can call yourself "independent." Otherwise, you're "part of the establishment." Doesn't mean you're rich, just makes the label meaningless.

Great post!

Tyler Weaver said...

Thanks man.

I saw the rise of "indie music" in Boston while I was at Berklee, and my disdain at the term grew then. "Sell" meant "Sell out." I thought the point was to make a living doing what you love to do?

The only "independence" that matters in the arts is voice. Make an entertaining product that gives a good fun experience - golden.

Dol said...

I don't use the "Indi" label in relation to anything that I put out, partly because I find that it automatically closes doors to partnership with larger organizations that I personally don't want closed and because I feel that "indi" is eventually going to become synonymous with 'amature' in the minds of the public.

great post! :)

Dol said...

I don't use "indi' to describe any of my work, partly because I've found that it indicates an attitude which is closed to partnership with larger organizations, and I want to keep those doors opens and also because I believe it is becoming more and more synonymous with 'amature' in the minds of the public.

Anonymous said...

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Our platform is called Fandependent Films and you can get a taste of what we're about at


we're going to be spilling the beans very very soon.

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