As people who know me well will know, films come a very close second to books on my list of 'things I'd rather be doing'. I go to the cinema usually once a week and will also watch a couple on LoveFilm or on TV too.
This kind of one-man-band of filmmaking is a close equivalent to serious self-publishing. Like buying a self-published book for cold hard cash, I went to a cinema, paid the standard fee, bought popcorn, watched ads and trailers and then saw a product that came to me pretty directly from the mind of its creator. It was free of influence of studios, focus groups, distributors etc. All the people who are usually accused of forcing directors to churn out guff like Final Destination 5 (my own personal title-stuffed-with-irony favourite). The publishing parallel to those people might be the bookchains who don't like a book's cover, or the marketing dept who don't like the main character's ethnicity. The people that are usually the subject of irate rants on writers' forums.
So, what was a 'self-published' film like?
Well, quite good.
I had thought about posting the trailer here...but it's 18-rated and so it could get me into trouble. It's on YouTube if you want a look. In a nutshell, three boys get kidnapped by a family of fundamentalist Christians and are punished for their perceived sins. Like I say, it's an 18. In the hands of a studio it would probably have been a shlock-horror, perhaps with a bit of torture porn thrown in. In the hands of a single-voice director, it is something less polished, but also strangely satisfying. Kevin Smith actually has something to say and he uses the actors as mouthpieces for his idea. Admittedly, there are over-long speeches and it's disconcerting not to have a clear hero. But it was also very refreshing indeed.
Auteurs aren't new, of course. But for most of my cinema-going life, they've been the stuff of myth. I'm much more used to studio-productions. Just as I've been used to publisher-led fiction. I wonder, will we find that the self-publishing revolution that's taking place around us will lead to auteurs making their mark in our industry too?
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