Smaller films offer new choice amidst over-the-top productions

Ingrid Chang

Independent movies branch out from corporate movie avenue, offering fresh perspective

Beyond the world of the silver screen lies a small and artistic realm— the world of independent films.
In this place, films are produced with small budgets and have similarly sized followings. They are created not to attract large audiences, but to use film as an art form. Usually large corporations are not involved.
 
A fresh  wave  of  independent  films was released nationwide in mid-September following the Toronto Film Festival. One of the films playing at the festival was “Burn After Reading,” a comedy featuring Brad Pitt and George Clooney as an unlikely pair of secret agents.
 
Free from corporate control, the experience of watching an independent film is very different from watching a Hollywood production.
“A lot of the times [independent films] can be more experimental in plot, production, and direction,” English teacher Jeremy Ebbink said.
   
“The Blair Witch Project” is one film known for its experimental camera work. At an early screening of the movie, Ebbink noticed it was one of the first movies to appear as if it had been filmed with a handheld camcorder.
 
Junior Alan Do likes to watch independent films made by Quentin Tarantino because of the way he experiments with the plot. In “Reservoir Dogs,” a Tarantino film, the plot centers around a robbery, but the crime is never shown.
 
The experimental  formulas  are amusing to watch, but the main appeal of independent films is their deeper meanings.
    
“I really enjoy movies that I don’t understand,” Do said, “even after the movie has ended. I really look for that. I like it when it confuses me. Not because the plot is bad, but because so much has happened. I leave feeling amazed.”
 
This element of complexity makes independent    movies appealing to Ebbink.
 
"I really like thinking about it and trying to pluck out the meaning,” Ebbink said.
One of senior Jen Wong’s favorite movies is “Children of Men” because she was intrigued by the topic it discusses. The movie explores the decline of the human race and is filled with images of political turmoil.

Independent films, especially foreign films, can also cover more controversial topics than those released on  corporate money.
 
In a foreign film Do watched named “Battle Royale,” the government forces a select group of students to fight one another in order to terrorize the population.

"That movie was so controversial. It’s something that you would never see in America,” Do said.
 
Characteristics aside from the content set independent movies apart from the corporate world. Watching an independent film in theaters is a new experience in itself.
“The people are usually really artsy,” Do said. “There’s a sense of snobbiness. They like to talk about movies and they’re so serious about it.”
 
In Ebbink’s experience, the feeling in the  theatre was more relaxed than during a corporate movie. Sometimes the screenings he went to would only have one or two people in the audience with him. Directors are also known to appear at screenings to answer questions after the film.
 
The theater itself can also contribute to the ambiance. At Ebbink’s favorite theatre in Berkeley, each screening room is decorated in different themes. One room has a Middle Eastern style while another room has stars painted across the ceiling.
The independent movie experience is different from that of a corporate one, but Do, Ebbink, and Wong do not limit themselves to just independent films.    
 
“I just love every single type of genre there is out there,” Wong said, “and both independent moviemakers and big companies can provide films that appeal to me.”