In recent years, more indie films have been able to capture the attention of many moviegoers. Here's why they have a slight edge of blockbusters.
Hollywood has been the largest and most influential film industry in the world. The major studios ranging from Disney and Universal to Sony and Warner Bros. are responsible for some of the most iconic and highest-grossing movies ever produced. The majority of today's cinema feels as if it is only made up of countless superhero or action blockbusters like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), and the Fast and Furious franchise. While those movies can be entertaining, providing a few worthy characters or thrilling action sequences to latch onto, they are often restricted to studio demands that tend to focus on profits rather than telling a compelling story. But in recent years, one aspect of cinema continues to reach new fans and become more popular among blockbusters, a piece of the film industry known as independent films. Independent films, or indie films, are films that are produced outside of the major studios and instead made by smaller companies with a limited budget. An early example of this is Quentin Tarantino's 1994 Pulp Fiction. The now cult classic is known for breaking many traditional storytelling rules or conventions, eventually becoming one of the most iconic and influential films in the entire film industry. Indie films, similar to how Pulp Fiction was able to attract stars such as Bruce Willis, have featured many big names earlier in their careers that have resulted in some very memorable performances. More recently, the indie production company known as A24 has risen to prominence in the 2010s, producing some of the most critically acclaimed films of the decade that would go on to win big at major award ceremonies like the Oscars. Films that many associate with the company include 2017 Best Picture winner Moonlight, The Lighthouse, The Witch, Midsommar, Hereditary, Uncut Gems, The Green Knight, Eighth Grade, Ex Machina, Lady Bird, and so many more. Many film lovers tend to favor indie films over blockbusters, but why is that? The big reasons for indie films' larger following go to the creative freedom filmmakers have and how that can lead to more interesting stories. As seen with Zack Snyder's Justice League, the director decided to release his original 4 hour cut of the film after he felt the 2017 theatrical version did not live up to expectations. Warner Bros.' interference with the film resulted in a 2-hour mess while Snyder's version was free of any constraints as the filmmaker was allowed to tell the story the way he intended. This is something that is present in many blockbusters, as they are driven by box office numbers rather than artistic visions. That's why indie films continue to resonate with so many fans, because they do not have to give in to any pressures or demands laid out by studios. Indie filmmakers are able to express themselves freely and tell the story they want to tell, taking a smaller budget and making it work in the most creative way possible. Having this freedom then leads to plenty of thought-provoking stories, stories that feel real and honest and don't shy away from the human experience. While blockbusters may only scratch the surface when it comes to addressing certain themes or issues, most indie films delve deeper in exploring various subject matters that many won't find in a film like Fast and Furious 9/F9. Ari Aster's Hereditary, for example, is much more than a basic horror film filled with blood and demons. And while it can contain those familiar horror elements, there is a real grounded, human aspect to it all with underlying themes involving mental illness, familial trauma, and representations of motherhood that add real depth and make it unlike most horror films. It's a character study piece, essentially, and it's something audiences just wouldn't see in a film like Paranormal Activity or Slender Man. On top of the unique stories indie filmmakers are able to convey, the tight-knit environment surrounding independent films, particularly in the many film festivals throughout the year, provides a greater sense of community and belonging, something that simply isn't associated with large production companies. Indie film festivals provide fans the opportunity to see many great films that may otherwise go unnoticed and to be able to easily meet with filmmakers or other film fans. Anticipating a big blockbuster's release is of course exciting, and there's nothing wrong with that, but a big topic of discussion within the film industry is the lack of interesting stories piling up. If moviegoers want a change and to see more indie films and the compelling stories they have to offer, then there needs to be greater support for them. The support deserves to go to the stories that take bold risks and break the basic film conventions. Stories that favor passion and creativity over profits.