By Dennis Tavernetti
The film “Celeste and Jesse Forever” was previewed last week and will be shown Monday, October 22 at 6:30 at USCB CFA. Please refer to last week’s feature to learn about this good film. For today’s column I will discuss the Indie film movement and USCB’s participation in it.
One can define Indie films as those films that are produced, shot, released and then distributed outside of the major film studio network and distribution system. Originally, indie films were all produced with no association with major studios, major actors, and established large theaters. This is still true today for the majority of these films.
However, in the last few years, major studios have formed Indie divisions and highly acclaimed actors have taken an interest in acting in these low budget films. For example, “Midnight in Paris” was an Indie film, under a division of Sony Pictures, with well known actors, but had limited distribution, until it became so popular that it also got a round of limited major distribution later in its release cycle.
By and large, Indie films are higher risk films due to their topic or story line that majors refuse to risk their time, money, and bottom line. This drives Indies to be low budget films new actor ventures. After an Indie is in the “can”, getting distribution is the next major challenge. Being accepted to a major film festival helps some, winning a prize helps more. Still the vast majority of Indie films never sees the inside of a theater, but is relegated to only being seen via DVD to friends and family.
Two years ago, USCB’s Center for the Arts entered into an agreement with Emerging Pictures in New York City to be a part of their distribution network, which is the largest network of theaters showing Indie films in the United States. The Center selects the films and then schedules them to be shown at the Center on afternoons and evenings as other events and performances allow.
Emerging Pictures carefully selects the films to add to its catalogue for its member venues by utilizing reviews, film festival success records, and private screenings. Once added to the catalog any venue in the EP network can schedule the film for a particular date.
Once the date is approved by EP, it is transmitted via a leased high speed data pipeline directly to the dedicated server at USCB CFA which resides in the university’s projection room. The films are downloaded to the server several days before the scheduled showing to avoid any hiccups that can occur with direct streaming. On projection night, a USCB technician merely accesses the server and starts the “film” utilizing the HD projection system that USCB purchased for the MET Opera series … and we are off to the movies!