The Wal-Mart-effect on the indie film industry

I always wondered if our indie film idols (Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky, Kevin Smith, Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch etc.) would have made it in our current market situation. Accodring to this profound article, the chances are very bad!


The indie film industry is cannibalizing itself.

Many in the industry still refuse to acknowledge that film is subject to the economic laws of supply and demand.


…the industry’s problem was not a shortage of films, but a shortage of eyeballs. But the industry’s response to this warning has been to make more films.
Supply-side economics brought about the age of Wal-Mart – an abundance of poor-quality goods in the name of “competition.” Cheap technology, cheap products and cheap labor allowed the company’s owners to nickel and dime their way to billions while steering employees to seek public assistance in order to supplement wages the company refused to pay them. Sound familiar? While the indie film industry is not Wal-Mart, the process of production (and its end result) is growing similar over time. And this should give anyone who cares about the industry cause for concern.


So considering ways to boost the economic value of the industry shouldn’t be about suppressing voices, nor would it be helpful to approach this issue by blindly limiting the number of films made. A better approach would be to find ways the industry can work together to maximize the chances of producing quality films and connect these films to eager audiences – an approach focusing on quality over quantity and combatting the culture of “just get it made,” with a culture of “get it seen.”


The year “Reservoir Dogs“ was released, about 250 films were theatrically released in the U.S., compared to 1,500 films released last year. An industry with fewer films may have allowed these great talents to get the attention and support they deserved, and given them a better chance to shine.


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