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So you're an Indie Filmmaker depressed by how much money MUMMY RETURNS is making... right'

Hey folks, Harry here... I just finished reading an article that Roger Ebert wrote over HERE, which basically is an article about a group of depressed filmmakers that have allowed the corporate world of film to make them depressed about the ability to screen their films to a public and get those films seen, when at the same time a film like THE MUMMY RETURNS splashes across thousands and thousands of screens, has tens of millions hurled into advertising... How can they compete?

The fact is... they can't. And they shouldn't be trying. One of the problems with a great many 'filmmakers' is that they look at MUMMY RETURNS and think that the game they are playing is the same one. It isn't.

MUMMY RETURNS is mass market entertainment, something you've decided not to make, but that Stephen Sommers has. It has been scientifically tested and proven to entertain a mass audience. It has been created with the idea of pulling greenbacks from the teeming masses... The film has the trailers, posters and slogans which create the Pavlovian film-going urge.

So when the MUMMY RETURNS ends up with 190-230 million dollars domestic and the inevitable worldwide gross of roughly 585 million dollars... how should an Indie filmmaker feel?

Well the Negative Cost for the film was in excess of 98 million dollars... Figure the ad campaign at an additional 30+ million... That comes to 128 million dollars... and thus far even though THE MUMMY RETURNS has pulled in $124.22 million dollars... It still hasn't hit the profit margin yet. In fact it needs to make an additional $90 million or so to really get there when you begin dividing up the pie. Don't get me wrong, with video, cable TV rights, pay television, foreign rights and all that sold... It's gonna bring in a bank or two, but really like any Mass Market Item... The profit is in the narrowest of percentages.

What an Indie Filmmaker has to do is to put MUMMY RETURNS out of mind. That is another business, something that isn't even the same business that they have going. Well... What do you do?

An Independent Filmmaker is a Small Business Man. Your actors, writers and yourself... You are all in this together. You want to make this small business work. If you plot this out right... Well, you're life becomes easier. First you have to make your film as cheap as possible, but have the film look as great as you possibly can make. The film is that thing you are creating. As an Indie this means sweating blood day and night to make the finest feature you can as cheaply as you can. And as an Indie filmmaker, this isn't a 'get rich quick' scheme... You are not a 'Savings and Loans' fella.... You are not dealing with 'Junk Bonds'... You are in this business to create film for the rest of your life... riiiiiight? So long as you take a breath, you will make film.... riiiiiight? You are dedicated, there is no question, there is nothing else that you want to do... you are a FILMMAKER... right?

Alright, good. Nice to hear. First, being an independent is an incredibly hard route, but do you really think it is easier to go the MUMMY RETURNS... big studio route? Where your film becomes a corporate thing... Where executives can possibly take your film over... Where the giant movie stars can make insane demands... Where your script is being re-written by people you never meet... Where the final film is missing things that when you first sat down to make it.... you made the film hoping to see? BIG FILMMAKING has quite a bit of artistic compromise and placating the investors, who can and will foreclose on your dream.

But you... You have chosen freedom over riches. You are a Independent Filmmaker. Someone that wants to bring what YOU want to bring to audiences. Among the first decisions presented to you is the Digital vs Film question. This is where you decide what medium serves your story. For a sculptor, you decide if you will sculpt in Styrofoam, wood, stone or glass or metal. For a painter, you decide the canvas and the paints, the brushes... This is for you to decide, but know your materials. The new Sony High Def 24fp camera.... the DV.... 8mm.... super8.... 16mm.... super16 or the big formats...

All of the steps until you have your final print are yours to decide. But remember, the more expensive you work, the harder it is to make the next film unless the film is patently commercial. The area you need to begin thinking hard about is promotion and exhibition.

If you are in a rush to make your next film. If you just want to sell this one to someone and move on... fine, go the Film Festival circuit, but realize that in a very real way... Everyone buying films at Film Festivals... all of the 'Indie Distributors' well... They are looking for commercial product. A higher end commercial product to be sure. They want films with marketable commodities... actors that will do press... Names to put on posters... Subject matter that can be exploited to bring an audience in. They need a film they can sell.

At this point you have to look at your film. Not from an artistic point of view, but from an exhibition front.... from the point of view of the audience. As an audience member, what about this film appeals to you? Why should they be interested in this movie? When they leave the film, what will they be talking about? Now... You don't have the money for Market Research... so instead you need either someone that knows the Market... someone like Jeff Dowd, who finds homes for Indie films like yours... Or you need to know the market yourself.

You need to look at your film and think what films are in the same type of genre... what was their success rate... How did they do that? And you need to know the failures as well as the successes. Have you made a movie about a frustrated artist? Well... You need to know how LUST FOR LIFE was sold... Why SURVIVING PICASSO failed... How POLLOCK got on all those lists... Why BASQUAIT disappeared... Know your market... Know why your film is different and if that is a good thing. Study how films were sold, why people saw them... You are an Indie filmmaker.... You have few friends... You must know how to sell your own film.

If you have made a movie and you have no idea why anyone would want to see it.... You have a problem.

Now you have to begin thinking about how to get the word out cheaply in advance of your Film Festival debut. You need to know how to get people to pick seeing your film over the other 10 films screening at that instant. You need to be familiar with this site, Film Threat, IndieWire and all of the major film critics. You need to know if they will like your film... Read what they have written... Know whether or not they write about film prior to distribution... Prior to a film festival... See if they'll do an interview in advance. Do you have something to say? Will that help? Maybe? Then say it.

Now spending a great deal of money on a super poster? Well, the festival goer is well aware of the adage that the slicker the poster, the more fake the film is... The best way to get a festival goer into the film is to have an independent voice say, "I really liked this film!" You're looking for distribution right? You don't want to take the film around the country yourself and screen it, do publicity and greet filmgoers as they enter your you? If you do... fine... But you are trying to get your film seen by as many people as possible because you are an artist.... an exhibitionist... and you want people looking at your creation.... riiiiiight?

Often times, the people scouting for films at festivals are at that first screening. How is your audience? Are they going to react to the film? Do they have a clue what type of film they are in store for? It is integral to not only have a buzz for your film prior to the first screening... but to have the right expectations... for the audience to know that this film is something special and that it is their type of film.

How can you do that?

You know why big Studio Marketers make trailers that give away an entire film? It is because they have been proven to work for a mainstream audience. An audience likes to know what to expect from the movie that they are going to invest in... WELL... Personally I disagree with that to a degree, but here's my advice.

Make a trailer or cut a scene that you know will get people to see your movie.... If you saw this trailer or this scene you know that you would want to go see that movie. NOW... how to get people to see that? AICN, Dark Horizons, Coming Attractions, Film Threat, IndieWire, the film festival's website... Get it to them... see if they can host the trailer or clip... See if they'll write about it. NOW realize that they have many many many many other people trying to get their attention. Have patience... Don't be an asshole... Be cool.

Folks at film festivals, a lot of them... read websites.... and those that don't are standing in lines with those that do. And people in lines say, "Man, I can't figure out what to see, I've never heard of any of these films." And the person that goes online says, "Well, I've heard that _________ is good." And the other person says, "Really, how do you know that?" And this enlightened one says, "Well I A) Read a review that said.... B)Saw this clip/trailer that looked.... and/or C)Read an interview with...."

Now, the key is to have another person in that same line that says, "Oh yeah, I heard that......" And then another person in line says, "What film are you talking about?" and then all 3 people say, "Insert Your Film's Name Here!!!"

Now, when you are at a film festival you have several missions... 1) Sell your film. 2) Learn the game from other filmmakers. 3) Talk with the festival goers and find out why your film is working or not working.

Ok... So now... let's say you have made a film that has festival buzz, that people love.... BUT... No distributor will touch.

Really... this is what the filmmakers in Ebert's column were talking about. These are films with either no known stars, an NC-17 rating, a subject matter that traditionally has not sold tickets or who's intended audience typically does not pay to see films.

At this point... things are much tougher.

The choices you have to make become more difficult. You have to either A) Cut your losses or B)Become Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

A) Cut your Losses.... This is where you begin selling foreign rights (AFM, CANNES, various festivals), a video distributor, cable rights... Hopefully you made your film cheap enough that this can happen, but if not prepare for a long long road to produce your next film.

B) Become Mickey Rooney And Judy Garland!

It's time to throw a show. If you are into it. If you have the stamina to take your show on the road, if you've made a film that audiences love but no distributor believes in.... it is time to study the landscape of independent theater owners. At this point it becomes important to become P.T. BARNUM... To barker your film. Are you willing to go where your film goes? To shake every hand... to tell fascinating and provocative stories to audience after audience before and after your film? Do you have actors that will get nude on stage? Will they do stand-up? What do you have? How entertaining can you be? This is William Castle time.... Joe Dante's MATINEE time... You will speak to newspapers, radio and television in these communities.... You will glue up Xeroxed sheets of paper advertising your film on telephone poles... You will grab a phone book and start with A calling people.... You will become a selling machine...

Exhibition by exhibitionists... Time to fill the barn, sell cotton candy, popcorn and sodas... This is a long long road, but you are doing this for a couple of reasons.... You want people to see your movie.... You are wanting to show a willingness to get behind your film.... You are trying to make money to make your next film..... And you are looking for your next investors.... THAT'S RIGHT... Out there in that independent theater... in that crowd of 40 - 100 people... their might be gold. Someone just won the lottery, why not that guy on the 11th row on the aisle slurping his soda?

This is also why you talk to Film Societies, University Film Groups, Workshops and so on... This is why you do interviews, and maintain that website. This is the world of Independent film.... You get to see the faces of your public.... You hear their stories and their dreams of making films and ya know what... It is a wonderful and beautiful world. Sure you are not in the penthouse suite at the Four Seasons sipping some over-priced fermented drink being handled by P.R. people.... You're going to be drinking in some dive with a group of cinephiles telling ol war stories about the ones you almost got... You're gonna make people dream about making films with you. And you'll make those films. And hell, maybe one of them will hit at some cosmically fucked up scale and make you super rich...

But ya know what, let's pray that doesn't happen... because that leads to the dark path of P.R. drones and Studio meetings... You didn't get into film to become a COG... you got into film to be a filmmaker... and that means you define yourself and that which you create.

So stop sitting on panels lamenting not working for McDonalds... Be passionate and sure of your chosen path.

Readers Talkback
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  • May 18, 2001, 6:53 a.m. CST

    Tell 'em, Harry

    by OK Then

  • May 18, 2001, 7:14 a.m. CST


    by Everett Robert

    beautiful article Harry, my brother, beautiful article. We need to see more "op-ed" pieces like this on this site. Thanks for the advice and the help

  • May 18, 2001, 7:16 a.m. CST


    by zacdilone

    Spot on, Harry. Well done.

  • May 18, 2001, 7:24 a.m. CST


    by Koola_Norway

    ...of a white christmas...of sunny afternoons...of little blue umbrellas...of unlimited success for my norwegian filmsite...of beautiful scandinavian girls(oh, that's right - I've got that!)...of Greece in the summer... and damn: I'm dreaming about making my own movies! So no matter how damn hard this business sounds to be, I'm going to get there... So from the icy mountains of Norway, I bring the voice of an euro_indie, up and coming...

  • May 18, 2001, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Have you ever considered that Stephen Sommers actually loves tha

    by Wesley Snipes

    Like Spielberg doing Raiders of the Lost Ark. They are actually satisfied and get off on broad entertainment. And they are doing it exactly as they want. Nothing wrong with that. Arguably, if they are that into it, isn't it as a valid form of artistic expression than some small esoteric movie?

  • I feel this subject would be a worthy follow-up article. You definitely took the words right out of my mouth for your take on the movie biz, that's for sure. Well stated.

  • Just a little clarification, there.

  • May 18, 2001, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Harry, take this run off 1000 copies and post it all over Guadul

    by daggerfive

  • May 18, 2001, 8:37 a.m. CST

    the reason independent movies make almost nothing...

    by Key_Card

    Most of them really suck. Just because someone makes independent films does not mean they are an unrealized genius, it means they raised enough cash to make what is most likely a really crappy movie abouy gay cowboys eating pudding. Statistically there is probably the same chance of a good independent movie being made as there is a big budget studio move. The only differnce is that most studio movies aren't so pretentious as to tell the audience that their movie is about more than money and it has some higher purpose.

  • May 18, 2001, 8:55 a.m. CST

    Here's the problem...

    by MartinBlank

    Most people...actually probably most Americans, but most people in general...don't give a shit about movies. Period. End of story. Think of your non-movie-geek friends or coworkers who go and see maybe 4 or 5 movies a year in the theater, tops. Most people have shitty mainstream tastes. They are not interested in the cool, quirky, original stuff that you (probably), I, and most everyone who works on or visits this site is interested in. They want something dumb to decompress in front of for 2 hours. Same principle holds for all the other fields of entertainment. Take a look at the listings for an average multiplex...I mean an average, real, right-between-WalMart-and-McDonald's plex, not one near a college or one that actually frees a screen or two for indies. Look at the pickings. Get depressed. If you are not a movie geek who is addicted to the very act of moviegoing, who is kept going by the hope of a few surprises or movies that don't suck as much as you thought they would or even the occasional great movie, if you are just a regular person who considers a movie to be of exactly the same weight as mini-golf and going for ice cream after the movie...just one more aspect of a night out...then the crap out there isn't going to entice you much, but the *heavily hyped* crap might sucker you in. *** The problem with Harry's 'don't worry, be happy, don't even try to piss with the big dogs' rally speech is that there *used* to be an audience for unique fare, there *used* to be studios willing to gamble on it, and there *used* to be an alternative to mainstream smegma. There increasingly isn't any more. DVD is often a safety net and promise of posterity for movies that don't do $25m the first weekend, but there's no reason some of these movies shouldn't do better. When 'Freddy Got Fingered' makes more in its opening weekend than 'Memento' makes in its entire theatrical run, SOMETHING'S WRONG. When studios toss bags of cash at Chris Kattan vehicles while the director of 'Night of the Living Dead' -- fucking NIGHT OF THE LIVING FUCKING DEAD! -- has to shlep around festivals begging for a distributor (Lions Gate finally picked up 'Bruiser' didn't they? but when the fuck is it coming out?), SOMETHING'S WRONG. And when 'indie' studios like Miramax and New Line and increasingly even Artisan go into the blockbuster business or put out tasteful dreck starring Juliette Binoche (the Miramax of today would NOT be friendly to a new Tarantino or Kevin Smith coming along, that's for sure), SOMETHING'S WRONG! *** If you agree with any of the above, you are in a minority whose needs are not being met and, unless some big-time changes are made or some wild-ass true indie film takes the American consciousness by storm (let's not even bring up the Artisan merchandise known as 'Blair Witch' please), your needs will continue to be unmet. Have fun bitching on the sidelines while the Michael Bays of the world rule on their tarnished thrones. Power corrupts, but having no power sucks, too.

  • May 18, 2001, 8:56 a.m. CST

    Damn straight, Harry!

    by Rockintoddo

    Fuckin' A well said! I was a TV/Film student and I remember sitting through classes full of whining by these pretentious little twerps complaining that the film industry wouldn't change for them. If you want something, GO GET IT!!! Ask Robert Rodriguez about getting a break handed to you. See how long that conversation lasts before he breaks into laughter. If you have a vision, and don't want to compromise even a step, go make your own movie! Stop complaining about how unfair and bland the system is. Go find some like-minded people and make your own company. Make your own film and cart it to the festivals. Make your own future!

  • May 18, 2001, 9:14 a.m. CST


    by soundingbrass

    Okay, so if Miramax and all the other distributors aren't willing to go for good independent filmmakers anymore (and I agree with the guy who said most independent films suck too)... then why don't, instead of all banding together to make movies, we all band together to become a distributor? Of course, once we do that and start making money, what's to keep us from "going corporate" and making big blockbuster fare? Our integrity?

  • know, other than my local city film festival and Slum Dance...

  • May 18, 2001, 10 a.m. CST

    From a Filmmaker to a Crtitic

    by The Surgeon

    I can't believe everybody is rallying behind Harry about this article. Hey Harry, I've got a question for you: Where did you go to film school? What gives you the right to even think you know the first thing about filmmaking? Because you run an internet site? Becuase you've been to movie sets and spoken with directors? It's easy for you to pontificate on filmmaking and what it means to be an independent filmmaker when you sit on your ass and review movies. Student filmmakers have a saying. Those who cant make films, teach about it, and those that aren't dedicated enough to get a MFA in film become critics. Therefore Harry, the critic is the ultimate film underachiever. Since you have no idea what it is like to create something as complex and creative...not to mention time consuming and technical... as a film you should shut your cake hole and stick to the tax-collecting job of the industry....critiquing. like tax's a necessary evil, but you wonder about the person who seeks out a job like that. The critic is the ULTIMATE UNDERACHIEVER in the business. How can you presume to know the motives of a filmmaker? How can you presume to know the heart of a creator when you are not one? You've completely overstepped your expertise Harry, if being a film critic allows you any expertise at all. I don't care which studios fly you to which sets. All you are is a movie studio bitch who they treat nice so that they get free advertising. I guess you haven't realized that yet either. Just something for you to think about as you're sitting there and opening your twinkies, while hard working, dedicated film-lovers are out there doing their best to see their dreams realized.

  • May 18, 2001, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Or, you could just say good bye...

    by Gen. Esperanza

    America and move to Sweden. Here, you present your movie to a move counsellor at the Swedish Film Institute ( Which is governed by the state and budgeted with tax money from ticket sales. That's right, money from people who actually paid to see The Mummy Returns. SFI rarely grant money to action films, that's why only one every other year is made here and those are more like thrillers with an action sequense or two. Which means that money is given to dramas, comedies and character driven thrillers. Adter your film is finished, SFI will send it out to the big european film festivals whom have always had a good eye towards Sweden since Bergman, Widerberg and Troell ruled our biz. The buzz from your film will make soises all the way to America where Miramax will propose one of two things to you. either they wanna remake you film or they want you to direct one of their scripts which happens to be very similar to you own. Of course, you choose alternative no. 2 and there you go, you're a Hollywood filmmaker... ot not.

  • May 18, 2001, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Dont need studios for success

    by Rodan

    Harry's article serves as a reminder that film is a tough business, same as any other industry. In general, one cannot expect to reap the rewards without a great deal of hard work, luck, patience, etc. The fact is, there are a lot more independent films than there are studio films, and people are making a healthy living producing films that will never be shown at the mutiplex. There are certainly ways to make a succesful filmmaking career that do not involve being signed to multi-picture deals by a large studio. BTW - keep in mind that the only thing that makes a film "independent" is the fact that it was not produced in conjunction with a large studio. Saying "independent films suck" is a generalization similar to saying "independent music sucks" which I hope noone would actually convince themselves was true.

  • May 18, 2001, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Direct marketing

    by Spamagnet

    I realize that "direct-to-video" still has a bad reputation, but does anyone else feel that the time is ripe for marketing movies directly to the audience? The Internet provides the best way to get in touch with potential viewers (as long as they are online, natch). For example, let's take real "hard" science fiction, the stuff that hardly ever gets made. I can name two films that come close: 2001 and 2010. Maybe a few others like Gattaca and Contact. Everything else out there is either Science Fantasy (Star Wars), space opera (Star Trek) or just plain dreck (Mission to Mars). If an indie filmmaker started making hard science movies and selling them direct on DVD, I would buy them. I realize the budget is a problem, but when you look at 405 ( you realize how much

  • May 18, 2001, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Direct marketing cont.

    by Spamagnet

    ... a tech-savvy filmmaker can do on a limited budget. (Sorry about the extra post. Not sure what happened.)

  • May 18, 2001, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Right on Harry!! -We all chose the life we lead-

    by islander

    We all chose the life we lead and if you chose fimmaking, it will be a challenging one. But I could not live it any other way. I love working on productions, shooting, editing, having story meetings, giving time, resources and even money to a project I believe in. It is a great life. I am not rich (yet), I don't have studios nocking down my door (yet), but someday I will. I do it around working two jobs and have been able to afford the means to follow my dream, making movies. HARRY YOU ARE SO RIGHT -this time-. And thanks for the tip on getting a film noticed at a festival. Those are some great ideas. You have done your homework. I would love to see you do more for independent films on this site, links and news and such. And to other independent filmmakers, keep up the good work, you will make it. And don't worry about the big studios. My favorite movie (Star Wars) came from a studio. As did Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather and King Kong(1933) to name a few. And the rest of you quite bitchen about how some films you want to see is not getting made. If it is such a lead pipe sinch to make money raise it yourself. If you are right you will be set for life. Geek On.

  • May 18, 2001, 10:41 a.m. CST

    Great stuff, Harry... Keep 'em coming.

    by Halloween68

    Hey, Harry. Enjoyed the article. Wondering how often you read these feedback bits... but I just wanted to say that I've been a long time fan of your site; I think its 3 to 4 years now. Probably visit here more than anyplace else on the web. Thanks for all the good work and for being the glue that holds all us movie addicts together. So, again, keep it coming, Harry, keep it coming. Can't get enough.

  • May 18, 2001, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Reply to the Surgeon

    by daggerfive

    I wrote a novel that I'm shopping around with different publishers. I don't have a master's degree in creative writing. Does that mean I'm a hack? Does that mean if I dare criticize another novel that I'm a fraud? I have to side with Harry here. The artistic world is filled with too many people who thing that there so goddamn better that everyone else because 1) they have some kind of degree that says they are smart 2) the constantly lament the artistic decline of our culture 3)They are "independent" of the commercial process. Bullshit. If you are an artist who wants to make money off his/her craft and wants people to see what you have done, you have to submit to the commercial process. Publishing/film/art is business. What the artist has to decide is how "commercial" he/she is willing to become. If the worst insult anyone hurls at me is a comparision to John Grisham, then so be it. If I become as sucessful as him, then at least I won't be slaving away in cubicle hell anymore. I can agree with the surgeon a little about film critic being artistic parisites, but I have to give Harry some credit. I disaggree with him a lot, but at least AICN is giving a voice to people about film. It gives exposure to ideas that otherwise wouldn't get it. I get tired of all the self-righteous talk-backers (and I guess that I've become one of them) but at least AICN gives us a spot to sound off. So Harry has achieved something. He has created something special and carved out a nice niche for himself. And if he's not "keeping it real" enough for the surgeon, then on behalf of Harry, you can just go to hell.

  • May 18, 2001, 11:05 a.m. CST

    just make a good movie.

    by Wee Willie

    By good I mean something new and original. Don't rehash the same old shit. Didja ever notice that the 'little' movies that make it big usually do so because they are good. Too many so-called 'personal' movies are just pure shit.

  • May 18, 2001, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Surgeon, you are wrong.

    by Palmer Eldritch

    People who call themselves artists (or filmmakers) and then complain about critics do so mainly because they're cowards who can't bear the thought of there work being evalated objectively, they just want everyone to at it as if they were the filmmakers mum or something. "Oh, it's lovely honey, you did all that yourelf?" However, I do take issue with some of the points Harry is making. As for this stuff about "Indie Films being a different market" stuff. Why? We haver to accept that there are moronic big budget films and intellegent small independent films. Crap. That attitude didn't exist in the 30s, 40s, early fifties or the 70s. Only in the sixties did hollywood output even approach being as bad as it in now (and has been for the last 2 decades,and it's getting worse). A film as stultifying dull and unimaginative as the Mummy Sequel would have been churned out for next to nothing By Corman or Hammer, and suffered in comparison to even those companies other films. However, audiences in the sixties flocked to international films, while the studio heads panicked at the popularity of films they literally couldn't understand, so handed control over to the young directors who appeared to "get" these movies. Anyway, what the indie filmmakers are depressed about is not that the mummy gets shown while their films don't, it'S tyhat regardless of the quality, the Mummy gets thrown at 3000 odd screens, regardless of it'S quality, and just by sheer weight of numbers the Mummy will squeeze out any other films, by being shown on multiple screens at mutliplexes, these screens that were supposed to open up oppotunities for "different films" instead, the greater choice offered by multiplexes in fact measn that you can watch the movie starting at any time. Meanwhile the studios have formed rigid controls on the way films are produced by formularising and submitting films to overdevelopment. Lets quit calling it "Hollywood" - lets call it what it is: Big Cinema!

  • May 18, 2001, 11:48 a.m. CST

    Further discussion...

    by MordorTourist

    You know, I had a music professor in college who was absolutely positive that commercial media's ultimate purpose is to hypnotize the mainstream into needing what they supply. He supported this argument by stating that most commercial music always has a steady beat, and if we listen to that music long enough, our hearts actually synchronize to the music's tempo. I think that this conclusion is a bit far-fetched, but not by much. You can sort of say that "big-budget," "mainstream" movies tend to have this same effect. A good marketer understands that to make consumers spend money on a movie, they need to think that they NEED to see a movie- otherwise they'll not be as plugged in or cool as they maybe could have been. The problem with this is that when a genuinely good movie is released by the studios, we tend to as a society exalt it above all others. The pre-1999 Star Wars fan, the 13-year old that saw Titanic three times, even the trenchcoat-wearing Matrix fan have all been convinced that these movies can help define themselves and the world they live in. That's what art does, too- but too often we are closed-minded about what we'll let in our rarified sensation storage box. That's why I won't go see Angel Eyes this weekend, but you can bet my ass will be in the seat for Shrek... my brain is convinced that Shrek is better suited to me than J.Lo's oh so fine tushie. AND I'm heterosexual. Maybe there is something to that hypnosis theory, after all.

  • May 18, 2001, 11:52 a.m. CST

    Don't support Blockbuster

    by Mel Garga

    and I realize that many people live in places where the only source for videos is Blockbuster but I happened to go into a small, independent video store that is now my film-church. My girlfriend and I avoided it for years because we thought it was a porn palace. Turns out the place has an entire wall devoted just to "Cult" films. We're talking about shit that is impossible to find. That have every awesome foreign flick (French, Italian, Japanese, etc.) Don't get me started on their horror or their documentaries. They even fucking had the re-released version of Rashomon in their new releases. They also carry any independent film that makes its way to video. Anyway, the point is that we can't complain about this hollywood shite if we're not willing to go out of our way to see the indepenedent shit in the first place. By the way, bravo to the guy who said that independents can often suck as hard as studio flare. That is completely true. We have come to associate independent with intellegent. Some of 'em do suck and you shouldn't have to feel like a moron because you didn't pick up on what you're english major-turned-film-guru-professor calls hidden undertones. Then again, independents often do crank out some incredibly fucking original, groundbreaking stuff. We have to seek these films out. Don't sit there and cry because they aren't playing over at the AMC. Get on the web. Many independents are establishing web sites to promote their flicks. There are ways to get it done and these people are succeeding because they are enterprising bastards making a good effort to give folks a chance to see their work. Got to go - I got to go give birth to a couple of burned smurfs.

  • May 18, 2001, 12:17 p.m. CST

    A Call to Arms

    by daggerfive

    So we can all apparently agree that hollywood puts out some real crap. While I am not as indie-centric as some of the talkbackers. I do like films that diverge from the hollywood norm. I saw the Mummy Returns and it was okay. I will see Pearl Harbor. But this is not to say that I don't like the independents. Memento is on my list to go to. I think a lot of us can agree that movies are business as well and that we need the big movies to create capital for the smaller movies. So................................Why don't we start a grass roots movement like the Jesus freaks have done with their movies. I forget the names of the two Christian films...Left Behind and something else that the churchies got put in the theaters because they demanded that they be put there. The theaters respond to this because they can recognize a chance to make money. So we should start petitioning our local movie theaters to carry more indies or small films. The internet and email is a great tool for this. Perhaps Harry and the AICN crew can give us some clues as to how to do this. Is this a good idea?

  • May 18, 2001, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Quit Preaching!

    by dotanuki

    so what is going on here is a man who has never made an indie film is telling these mindless drones how to make a movie. All of these "you tell em harry" people remind me of the same idiots who go to watch steve jobs speak and jump out of their seats yelling when he pulls the cloth off of a new colored imac. "This one is Ice Blue!"...."WHOAAAAAA! ICE BLUE....WHOAAAAA!" I will take my advice from someone who has actually made something...not from someone who runs a website talking about people that make something. Quit preaching and have a nice day.

  • May 18, 2001, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Should we agree with The Surgeon? Well, SHOULD WE?

    by Lois Lane

    The Surgeon wrote: "Hey Harry, I've got a question for you: Where did you go to film school? What gives you the right to even think you know the first thing about filmmaking?" Because film school is THE only way to learn about filmmaking? Hell, forget that John Sayles discourages it, Kevin Smith said it wasn't for him and the myths that there are other ways in. Just ask a theater director like Sam Mendes whose film AMERICAN BEAUTY failed miserably. Lord knows there aren't books nor websites out there about filmmaking--film school is the only way. A film school degree and about twenty bucks will fill up your bitter gas tank. The Surgeon wrote: "Since you have no idea what it is like to create something as complex and creative...not to mention time consuming and technical..." Agreed, because Aint It Cool News is neither complex nor creative. It's really just pictures and words, not unlike a film. Oh and it's not time consuming and/or technical. It's pretty much on autopilot the whole time when KITT from Knight Rider isn't updating it every morning. The Surgeon wrote: "Just something for you to think about as you're sitting there and opening your twinkies, while hard working, dedicated film-lovers are out there doing their best to see their dreams realized." Genius. Intelligent argument here. My favorite part is the "opening your twinkies" dig because, of course, it's totally relevant and really drives the point home. The Surgeon should really be called The Lawyer.

  • May 18, 2001, 12:30 p.m. CST

    IFILM.COM - a great place for independant film to be seen...

    by Johnny FilmMaker

    for anyone who doesnt know, features a ton of good (and some bad) independant films... I have one on there "The SandWich Project" - but the audio is trashed for some reason... But watch for "BREED" to appear there in the next few months..its a little vampire flick we're working on. Should be fun. So, yeah, check out for some cool stuff...and try to weatch SandWich Project if u can hear it..just type in the title of the movier in the "search" can leave feedback for the movies u watch, too... Thanks, Johnny FilmMaker.

  • May 18, 2001, 1:35 p.m. CST

    Deeeeeemented foreeeever

    by Toranaga

    What we need is for some cinema terrorists to kidnap a huge star and force her to make a no budget film. And have no sex until the film is finished. Celabacy for celluoid.

  • May 18, 2001, 1:40 p.m. CST

    another idea...

    by Toranaga

    Have someone shoot an uber-cool documentary of you trying to get your low budget picture made. Then include said film on the DVD. It helps if you're a motormouth alcoholic. A determined motormouth alcoholic. Be a little eccentric. It wont hurt. Before you know it, you'll be on the Jay Leno show.

  • May 18, 2001, 2:03 p.m. CST


    by GrandFinally

    We don't log onto your site for your uninformed opinion columns --we log on to get dirt on upcoming flicks. Period. Other than having some "friends" in the biz, just what the hell is it that you actually know about film production, anyhow? You're just like the rest of the little hacks out there who have masturbatory visions in their head of being a filmmaker but are really nothing more than armchair auteurs. One of the worse things that has happened in the last five years is the proliferation of cheap film technology and piece of shit boards like this one where the hopelessly narrow-minded, small-visioned wannabe hacks of this world congregate to ooze their mindless, fanboy bile over the rest of us. Where exactly has all this great, cheap technology taken the art, anyhow? All this art is doing is throwing open the stable doors and arming all of the sheep with cameras to ejaculate their referential, banal little works of cinematic shit upon an uncaring world. Why don't the lot of you little hack fucks go back to school and pick up a useful trade? We need more mechanics. We need more A/C technicians. The world needs more doctors. We don't need anymore hack fanboys helming corporate films and trying to tell said tales in vocabulary already uttered by true giants. Go fuck.

  • May 18, 2001, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by The Hillbrothers

    Hey, this website is cool, ain't it? But I still get HTML script when I try to go to the news archive and it's driving me batty! Am I the only one with this problem? I get so pissed about it that I just leave the site and go elsewhere for news.

  • May 18, 2001, 3:45 p.m. CST

    Duh again...

    by The Hillbrothers

    Ok, so I can get to the last 4 weeks' news from any of the article pages, but is it possible to view anything older except by links to old articles found on other sites? And to get on the subject again, The Mummy Returns sucked for all the reasons Harry gave in the article concerning big movie marketability. I'd like to see more films like Memento, which wasn't ultra-low budget but was small enough to avoid the taint of major-studio expectations. And by the way, it is interesting that George Lucas calls himself an independent film-maker because he finances his own movies and doesn't answer to studio execs. And by that definition he IS an indie-film maker, but on the other hand he is also himself the equivalent of a gaggle of market-minded studio honchos compromising the quality of his movies: He's his own worst enemy!

  • May 18, 2001, 5:04 p.m. CST


    by newmexi

    Lol glad to see that the drama elite that i knew in high school have yet to grow up surgeon! I still see they think they are better then everyone else cause they have suffered so much and everyone should kiss their nonsoiled feet and praise them to heaven. If you cant stand the heat surgeon dont cook in the kitchen!! You are supposed to be an artist and a lot of artists try to imitate life that they dont experience and yet pull it off as real! Give me a break with Harry isnt a film director and doesnt know what he is doing? He works in the profession with these directors. In fact, a lot of professions do that dont they? Psychiatrists must understand psychotics yet they shouldn't be quacks cause they themselves arent psychotics and thus have no right in helping them! I myself do a lot of painting and drawing and i enjoy the criticism of others. I dont consider it evil, because it helps me mature and change! What Harry is doing here is to help those young "artists" that have no idea or experience get on the right road in achieving their dreams. He is helping others ! You on the other hand just like to criti.. oh wait a minute doesnt that make you a neccesary evil but you cant tell him what to do cause you are not a film critic!!!! Your just another artist that has no journalistic skills! As just a plain "film goer" ill see what ever movie i want to see when im in a certain mood!!! If im woking 100 plus hours a week, I WANT TO SEE A DUMB DOWNED MOVIE such as The Mummy! All i want to do is sit back and vegetate and not have to think. If i want to see a life altering movie, ill go out on a date!!! ill pick an intellectual or romantic independet movie or a DUMB DOWNED Indie movie. Its my choice!! I dont need someone with a bachelors or graduate degree telling me if i should like this movie or not!! Instead, I respect the advice of experienced people even when i dont agree with them. Anyways this is too long, gotta catch some sleep and ill probably get flamed for this but i dont care. Peace :)

  • May 18, 2001, 5:05 p.m. CST

    mummy 2 annoyed me so much.....


    The mummy 2 doesn't deserve to earn any money. I just saw it today and it stunk like a monkey's sweaty ball sack. I should sue Universal to get my money back, plus compensation for loss of time and emotional distress. I realise different people like different movies, but I thought I could trust Harry. Even Philbot and Dodgie Hodgie thought it stunk. Universal fooled me first time round, but I can't believe they fooled me twice. I was shocked that the black dude wasn't called Lando Calrissian! I hate that "Here we go again!" style humour, or "Oh not mummies again, I hate mummies!" I could go on.....

  • May 18, 2001, 5:19 p.m. CST


    by the burge

    are you really in a position to offer such advice? especially when you've no film making credits on your CV. 10/10 for sentiment but the points you made would carry more weight coming from someone with more than just a big movie collection....

  • May 18, 2001, 7:10 p.m. CST

    American filmgoers are NOT stupid.

    by thephantomcat

    How I know this is that when I saw The Mummy Returns, I saw it's flaws and still liked it despite knowing that it was pure fluff. My sister and her husband (who don't know the difference between Stephen Soderberg and Stephen Spielberg)thought that the film wasn't as good as the trailers made it seem. Now I'm gonna comment on some of the other stuff people have been saying. OF COURSE Hollywood is gonna make non-offensive films that don't require too much thinking. They are trying to please both soccer moms and teenagers! Of course people don't like indie films. Because most people don't like watching movies with no-names and without car chases. To say that most indie films suck is like saying that most Hollywood films suck. Allow me to act like a nine year old for a moment . . . DUH! If you watch a film and are not willing to accept the film for what it is, you will not like it. Does that make a film any less artistic? No. Isn't your son's or daughter's hand prints on a piece of paper a form of art? Yeah. Is it Picaso? No, but some of the art that people have been pumping out lately doesn't exactly interest me, either. It is still art. If you don't like movies about gay cowboys eating pudding, then don't pay money to see movies about gay cowboys eating pudding. Many indie movie makers aren't trying to force their films on you; they are trying to tell a story. Sometimes they are too subtle, and people bash them for makeing a pointless movie. Sometimes they stand on a soap box and are a little heavy handed, and people bash them for preaching. Bottom line, just watch movies that you like and let people make the films that they like. If something isn't your cup of tea, just leave it at that. I've seen movies that people rave about for good reason, but I just don't like the movie. I didn't bash the film because it wasn't suited for me. I think that some people can't tell the difference between bad movies and films they don't like. Learn it or shut YOUR cake hole.

  • May 18, 2001, 7:17 p.m. CST

    Good points and great article Harry

    by SilentBob X

    Sad but true, Harry. BTW, I liked Mummy Returns, but oh, man it had its moments. The references to E.T., Home Alone, and King Kong were a little much. And that whole scene where the dirgible suddenly gets as fast as an X-wing had me laughing out loud. But, it was a good popcorn movie. No complaints here. Snoogans.

  • Does anybody think that if Mummy Returns was an enormous flop, the studio execs would say, "Well, I guess it's time to give smaller art films a chance"? Not bloody likely. If one type of brainless, big budget movie fails, they just turn to another, and another, until they make money (and they ALWAYS do, eventually). Digital video, computer editing, and the internet have made it easier than ever to get independent work seen by a large audience. I don't think there's been a better time in history to be an independent filmmaker. The big-money, little-brain movies have been around as long as movie theaters have, and they're never going away. But it's silly to say that they force smaller films out of the marketplace, because that's simply not true. And now that there are more "marketplaces" than ever, the argument is even more irrelevant.

  • May 18, 2001, 7:36 p.m. CST


    by jeff bailey

    Harry, I think this article may be the best thing I've seen on this site in months. I hope you put up a special link to it for the rest of the time this site is up. This site does do its best to support independent film along with studio stuff (which lets face it, is why so many of us come here). I think Harry's advice is incredibly sound and well thought out. I think in a very respectful way Harry is saying what many TBers know, most morons out there are making unmarketable self indulgent crap and are baffled no one cares. Their knowledge of cinema history and screenplay and story stucture is non existent and they make a two hour eqivalent of their 7th grade poetry. But if one does have a clue and grabs their balls in their hand and does make a good flick, Harry's suggestions are a great starting point. And I don't care what anyone says. I've met Harry and he is cool and he does read everybodys emails and geniunely loves this stuff (I asked him a question in a parking lot after a screening and he wouldn't let ME leave until he answered all my questions). And you dont have to agree with all the stuff he writes (I don't love all his reviews either) or even his take on this but he is truely another geek like the rest of us. And he does and will use this site to help struggling filmmakers and that to me is admirable and is more then most people would do. I think all these talkbacks are great, even the dissenting ones, and all i hope is maybe we can get some great movies out of it. See you in the funny papers (or the library if you are Buzz Maverik).

  • May 18, 2001, 7:38 p.m. CST

    most indie films DO SUCK!!!!!

    by 20th Century Fox

    So let me get this straight I'm supposed to feel sorry for a bunch of filmmakers who are pissed cause their blesssed "indiependant film movement" or "movies that matter" really do not matter anymore... Hey the indie film boom was a cycle a cycle that has bottomed out. Whats really going on is the fact that the studios and yes audiences have been burned by indie shit for the past couple of years (Blair Witch being the most egerious example). The studio money has dried up....on them dropping 20 mil on shit fests like HAPPY TEXAS or 8 million on NEXT STOP WONDERLAND. The losers bitching and moaning about this demise of the movement are the ones who have made shitty films that no one in thier right mind would go see.....Think I'm a nut do ya...Well the dominance of indie shit fests like sundance is over (If you notice this year CANNES is back with a vengance) Those bitching would love thier film to get into sundance and be the subject of a bidding war i.e. these hypocritycal assholes want to be rich and have thier studio deal and still be classified as indiependant...You cant have it both ways...please send all hate maiol to

  • May 18, 2001, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Oh yeah....

    by 20th Century Fox

    With DV now all the rage any real shitty script can get made so if very easily...Look the whole gaol of most of the indie assholes was to get a studio pick up thier film and make shitloads off it (cause they couldnt get laid in highschool) and sign massive studios deals...Luckily audiences have seen thier work overhyped by overrated critcis like ebert and have the forsesight to STAY THE FUCK AWAY...Personally if you ask me i'm really glad finiancers have pulled back and the indie studios are shutting down I think in the long run well see BETTER not worse films because of this...

  • May 18, 2001, 7:48 p.m. CST

    One more post....Untill the hate mail flows in...

    by 20th Century Fox

    While i thought the MUMMY RETURNS was a missed opportunity S. Sommers had ample opportunity to make that film the way he wanted to make it. Have you heard him bitch or moan about how universal screwed him NO! And guess what while wasnt thrilled with the flick the audience I saw it with LOVED it so he must be doing something right...Its seems to me that these indie assholes are upset that THEY wernt making MUMMY movies. While Sommers is...Sommers has a carrer these assholes (and yes they are assholes) do not...Jelousy i think so...Please send all hate mail to

  • May 18, 2001, 8:15 p.m. CST

    Thank you Harry

    by TheGinger Twit

    I'm guilty of giving you quite a bit of shit. But you may have just turned around my life. Thank you.

  • May 18, 2001, 8:18 p.m. CST

    just a thought

    by Key_Card

    Didn't this website just trash Fred Durst (deservedly so) for saying he could make a good movie because he once talked to David Fincher. Hey pot, this is're black.

  • May 18, 2001, 8:24 p.m. CST

    I Held A Group Therapy Session For Depressed, Independent Filmma

    by Buzz Maverik

    I'm not a licensed shrink, but I've had to attend enough court ordered counseling that I know the drill. "Everybody is stupid! The studios! The distributors! The audience! The Mummies!" said Grace Butch, director of GIRL'S SOFTBALL."I make a black and white film about lesbianism in America and the only people who saw it were a bunch of guys who thought they were going to watch girl-on-girl porn." Stuart X. Kensington, director of the irony laced, neo-noir thriller JAYNE MANSFIELD LOST HER HEAD, added,"That's what I thought it was, Grace. But I know what you're saying. People call me a Tarantino wannabee. I want to be a Tarantino wannabee more than I want to be a Sommers wannabee." Bob Eucharist, director of Christian scare film HELLBENT FOR HELL, snorted in disgust. "You're both sick, you with your homosexuality and you with your Satanism. I want the Mummy's audience so I can spread the word of the Lord." "For me, making THREE ON A TISSUE was something I had to do," said Cassandra McGurk. "Sommers can't say the Mummy movies are personal films for him." Richard Tollhouse, who just finished his debut film THE PRINCESS & THE HAIRDRESSER, had other matters on his mind. "If I had the kind of studio backing the Mummy gets, Jon Peters and Barbara Streisand would not have been able to jump me in my carport and steal every copy of my film." At that point, I prescribed some wild animal tranquilizers for all of us. The filmmakers are all passed out around me because they aren't used to it. Time to steal their wallets.

  • May 18, 2001, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Harry misses the point

    by Lizzybeth

    The problem, as the article says, is the distributors. Out here in middle America we CAN'T see the indie films, because they've reserved 4 screens in the local multiplex for "Mummy Returns". There aren't indie chains out here. Our only hope is that Blockbuster stocks the good titles without editing the crap out of them. The real trouble isn't that their movies aren't making the big money -- it's that they aren't being made available to the public. Noone CAN see these movies, unless you live in New York or somewhere like that. And with movie theaters taking down screens, which do you think they're going to put up there -- Memento, or A Knight's Tale? It's only going to get worse. This is something that needs to be worked out.

  • May 18, 2001, 8:54 p.m. CST

    Correction of above..

    by Lizzybeth

    I meant the theater chains, or whoever puts them on the screens, not the companies like Miramax that buy them up and whore them out for Oscars, I mean, hmm. Hopefully someone knows what I meant to say there. *goes to bed*

  • Entertainment doesn't have to be idiotic to engage the masses, but that's become the modus operandi of these executives. We've now gone beyond the lowest common denominator into negative factors. It wasn't always this way. Just consider that thirty years ago "The Godfather" was the year's biggest blockbuster. It seems the only way to make films of any intelligence is to be independant. Unfortunately, that severely limits the types of movies you can make.

  • May 18, 2001, 10:30 p.m. CST

    And then...

    by Dark Clown

    Harry pulls an article like this one from his drunken, stupified muse, and restores my faith in his knowledge and passion for film. Well done Harry!

  • May 18, 2001, 11:20 p.m. CST

    Don't Insult Me!

    by JabbaDac

    God damn. I hate it when people lecture me who don't know what they're talking about. Sure, Harry knows stuff about watching movies, but until he's made a movie he just doesn't get it. I don't get depressed that the Mummy makes a lot of money. Making independent films isn't always about the money. If it is, you are most likely going to be disappointed. Every movie I have ever made has cost me money that I have no chance in hell of recouping. Its for art. I take it around, show it to whoever will see it, get feedback and plan my next project. This whole article just pissed me off.

  • May 19, 2001, 12:15 a.m. CST

    Well, indie is definiately good!

    by Pips Orcille

    Look at "Memento." Man, that movie is in the top ten grossing films in the country and it's only on 400 something screens! Indie films can work, if you just give them the right promotion they need.

  • May 19, 2001, 12:16 a.m. CST


    by onodoken

    okay.......not as if this article made me any smarter; as a matter of fact, my IQ just dropped a few points......sure MOST indies are crap, but can you really say that ALL studio films are GREAT! c'mon! Get yourself out of fairy land and realize that money drives this business......

  • May 19, 2001, 2:42 a.m. CST


    by virkku

    Since many of you either didn't read Harry's article or simply failed to understand it, here is what he meant: Don't expect someone to offer you five million to make your own film. Do it yourself. Raise the money yourself. Do it ultra low budget. Market it by yourself. Sell it to video and cable if you can't get a theatrical release. That way it's only up to you whether you succeed or fail. Stop whining and blaiming the system and take responsibily of your own career. And understand for fuck's sake that Mummy Returns is not in the same league as you are. It's not competing with your film. And why the hell Harry can't write about film business if he doesn't make films by himself. That's the most IDIOTIC I have ever heard. If you haven't noticed, Harry is a PART of filmbusiness and has devoted his life to it.

  • May 19, 2001, 2:52 a.m. CST

    Filmshool is totally unnecessary

    by virkku

    Just in case you didn't know, quite of of the most important directors of the moment didn't go to filmschool. You don't learn making films by going to filmschool, you learn them by MAKING them. Purchase a camcorder and start making your own shortfilms, eventually you will learn a lot more than filmschool can ever teach you. That's what I did as well and ended up with my current good work as a TV editor and cameraman. I'm just saving money for my first full lenght film which will be shot on digital video and filtered to look like 16mm film. We have already done the first 15 minutes. I hope the final product will be good enough so that I can sell it to video and cable and make a good profit. With the profit I can start making my second film and eventually get better and better by each film with increasing budgets. STOP WHINING AND TAKE RESPONSIBILY OF YOUR OWN LIVES, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! That's all that Harry was trying to say. It hurts to hear the truth, doesn't it?

  • May 19, 2001, 5:21 a.m. CST


    by virkku

    "Thanks Harry, for stating the obvious, once again". Obviously you didn't bother to read any posts in the talkback. Otherwise you would know that it's not "obvious" to everyone. I you don't have anything intelligent or interesting to say, don't bother saying it.

  • May 19, 2001, 5:33 a.m. CST

    Why doesn't work?

    by virkku

    Thanks for the guy who gave the link to this site. Looks like a fascinating place. Unfortunately it always gives an error when I try to download a film. I tried it with two different computers with the same results. What's up with that?

  • May 19, 2001, 9:11 a.m. CST


    by katbox

    I just wanted to share an e-mail I got the day after opening night of the (must I write it) well you know...I had just seen this awful product and could not resist posting my consternation on this site along with the many others ( who I am fairly confident are not "depressed wanna-be filmmakers", simply pissed of consumers!) that shared that humble opinion. It is from someone who claimed to be the Executive Producer and Editor of this piece of tripe. The name was Bob Ducsy, I have plenty of reason to see this as someone pulling my leg so if someone or Harry or Bob (who never responded to my e-mail,and rightfully so as it was a tad nasty) could share with the other posters here that this be true or false, great. The e-mail stated and I quote " Hello: I came across your comments about TMR on AICN. As the Executive Producer and Editor of the "movie"(quotation marks are mine) I am one of the people "responsible".(quotation marks are his) What would you like to know? Sincerely, Bob Ducsay . I realize that ole' Bob may be stalking about this very post , legit or not, It frightens me to no end that some one who might have had such a prominent role in such a big bloated money making mess as this deigned it his duty to respond to my little opinion(although I do admit to freely contributing ten dollars of my hard earned money freely) Listen this has churned up a very important debate, one bigger than we may see now. Look at this document Harry has felt the need to suddenly compose and post with such aplomb, Not the usual gushings mixed with explitives that we normally see is it? Ebert is jumping in too...Hmmm, The Slaves to the Machine are stirring, and were the spoons!

  • May 19, 2001, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Whiners... They bore me.

    by virkku

    Molehunter, you don't really want to listen, do you? I have personally done directing, cinematography, audio work and editing in 10 short movies so far. 8 music videos under my belt so far. Countless of commercials and TV programs. Now I'm making my first full lenght film financed by myself. Yeah, it's not easy. Filmmaking is VERY hard. AND HARRY NEVER SAID THAT IT'S EASY. He said that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN LIFE AND YOUR OWN CAREER. If you want to be a filmmaker, then became one. It takes talent and hard work, but that's all. STOP WHINING FOR CHRIST SAKE!!! I agree with Harry 100%, because he is right. All you whiners refuse to believe it, because you don't have guts to work for your dreams. Stop whining. Please. Stop it.

  • May 19, 2001, 1:20 p.m. CST

    you know what...

    by crazybastard

    I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in seeing this steaming pile of crocodile shit titled "the Mummy Returns". And you know what else? I had no interest in seeing the first one either. I watched it on video long after it's release and almost fell asleep from boredom watching the cartoony cgi and trying to follow the lame story. These movies generate no excitement in me. I just don't care. Some people (I'm not naming names) trumpet the fact that so called "entertainment movies" are brainless like it's the greatest honor you can bestow on a movie. It's like they think that in order for a movie to be entertaining it has to be brainless, and if it has anything resembling an intelligent plot and characterization it's nothing but an arty snobfilm. Well, in order for me to be entertained by a movie it HAS to have a good plot. If it's just mindless action I get bored. I fell asleep in the theater watching "The Rock" for crissake. I guess I must be a film snob then, right? Whatever.

  • May 19, 2001, 2:57 p.m. CST

    RE: Mr Sleep

    by virkku

    "It has to do with Harry's refusal, in this article, to acknowledge that film is art". RE: Harry didn't denie that in his article. He said that it's wise to consider commercial aspects, since making movies is expensive. "As a filmmaker, I am not a "small business man," anymore than a poet or a painter is.". RE: Making poems or paintings doesn't cost much, making movies does. "His argument is for the total commercialization of film." RE: No, it wasn't. He said that you should consider not only artistical, but also commercial points. "Harry is nothing. Harry has been exposed. Harry has sold out to the shitty filmmakers of 'The Grinch' and 'The Mummy Returns'". RE: I don't know how much you have achieved in your life, but I doubt it has ever been anything as special as AICN. What makes you think you are so special? So much better than Harry? The claim that Harry is a sold-out has never made any sense. He likes what he likes and you can freely disagree with him. "The CRITIC would tell the ARTISTS how to make art! There is nothing more insulting than that -- nothing.". RE: Ah, so you are the ever-important ARTIST where as Harry is merely a CRITIC. Therefore he lacks any kind of intelligence and knowledge about filmmaking and filmbusiness, right? Well, consider this; there are countless of ARTISTS (including me), who pretty much agree with Harry. If you feel "insults" that easily, I doubt that you will ever make it in the movie industry. Try relaxing a bit. "I'd bet my life that at least one of us "whiners" will actually make it, because our ability to ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IS BEING SAID here." RE: I'm sure you are familiar with ARTISTS who want to make movies for themselves and wonder why nobody pays them millions to do so. Instead of actually doing a a film on their own they just WHINE how studios only give money to movies like Mummy Returns. They WHINE how films like Mummy Returns take away screens from their film, if they have ever made one. They WHINE that nobody sees their films and wonder why they should look their also from the commercial point of view. That's a lot of WHINING and I'm getting a feeling that there are quite a few of those WHINERS on this talkback as well. People who actually can't back up their arguments and haven't ever really achieved anything and settle for WHINING instead. What Harry said is 100% true, no matter if you like it or not. If somebody wants to be a succesful filmmaker, then make a film and prove yourself instead of telling in these talkbacks what a great ARTIST you are.

  • May 19, 2001, 3:23 p.m. CST


    by virkku

    So the point is this: My posts were not especially for someone. They were in general to all those countless of "misunderstood" ARTISTS who have never realized that in order to get your money back, you have to consider also the commercial aspects. Taking responsibility of your own life and your own career means that you have to SELL your movies in order to make profit. Of course you can also make movies funded by someone else and simply follow your artistical insticts. Don't care if the film makes any money. And when it bombs and you have thrown away millions of someone else's money... Do you feel responsible? Also ,the FACT is that most wannabe filmmakers are people who never do anything. They just whine because nobody has noticed them and nobody offers them the "big change". Since some people in this talkback are so hatefully negative to Harry's article, it made me think that they might have something against his "Do it by yourself" ideology. Some people posted stuff like "talking about it is so easy, but doing it is something else.", and it made me feel that they disagreed with him. When I ask those people why they are not making a film they claim that it's too expensive, they should get at least on million dollars to do it. Bullshit. With DV you can do it for free. If Von Trier can make his films with DV, why can't you? Because they are too lazy and they are not ready to take responsibility of their own careers. They are simply waiting for someone to "rescue" them.

  • May 19, 2001, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Case in point: Robert "El Mariachi" Rodriguez and Kevin "Clerks"

    by Monkey_King

    Nuff Said!!

  • May 19, 2001, 3:26 p.m. CST

    RE: rkhessel

    by virkku

    I'm sorry, but I probably miss your sarcasm. I have no idea who Tony Robbins is and I don't know the meaning of word "knob" in that context, althought a door has one.

  • May 19, 2001, 4:52 p.m. CST


    by virkku

    I just re-read my earliest posts. I might have been a bit outta line there with all the "stop whining" talk. Maybe it was the horrible hangover that made me a bit frustrated... But anyway, I still agree with everything I said and disagree strongly with some others in here. I just might have explained myself unclearly. Sorry if I confused someone.

  • May 19, 2001, 6:14 p.m. CST


    by virkku

    I don't generally act aggressively in talkbacks. This talkback has been an exception and I have repeated my self too much. I stand by my opinions, but I have failed to argument myself in a proper manner. I still think that the attacks against Harry and his article were stupid and badly argumented. But now I'm too tired and pissed off to write anymore. It's 05.09 and I have done 14 hours of audio dubbing. Audio dubbing sucks. Off to sleep.

  • May 19, 2001, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Rhetoric NOT Logic

    by h'biki

    While I admire Harry's war-cry for its rousing quality, I also find it unsettling. By resorting to rhetoric, rather than logic and empiricism, Harry has ignored the issues raised at the American Director's Panel and that plague the Indie Film Scene. Firstly, the whining Directors quoted in the Ebert article ARE established and have produced marketable films. The problem is that economic interest in the indie scene is drying up. Its becoming inreasingly hard to find investors and distributors. Probably a reaction to the wealth of crap that the digital revolution has produced. Unfortunately, this is affecting filmmakers who have been successful. I recently spoke to Clara Law, a top notch arty HK filmmaker [see I can name drop too] and she was explaining how hard it is to find finance these days. Even in the hey-day of HK filmmaking (and its late captailist concerns) she could find investors easily. This may be a phase. Or it could be a symptom of a late capitalist society in decay :-) Secondly, shooting a film is easy and (relatively) cheap. I could shoot a feature on 35mm for $40,000AU. Bringing it to the screen is the expensive part. Anywhere from $1,000,000AU + - even for just a few screens. You need advertising to get bums in seats in the first week. If you don't, then the cinema's will pull it - regardless of how much 'internet press' you've had. The oligarchial nature of distributors and exhibitors is another *huge* problem for the indie film maker. Art-house cinemas are your only route. Unfortunately, there are 100s of indie-films seeking distributors for a few few spots. The studio/distributor/exhibitor nexus makes the RIAA vs little labels look like a schoolyard brawl. Sure, you can bypass cinema-screenings, and go DTV. Unfortunately, DTV is the exploitation market. Unless you've got violence and/or sex, you're dead in the water. Internet-distributor is a far way off - and I'm yet to see a model which will produce enough income to offset production costs. Third, the non-professionalisation of producers. Most of what Harry outlined in his article is the concern of the Producer, NOT the Director. A good producer will be considering marketing, audiences, stars, etc. Sadly its difficult to find a good producer. Everyone wants to be a Director or a DoP. Who the hell wants to be a Producer? Its the most thankless job in the industry, indie or otherwise. To paraphrase Art Linson, Robert De Niro doesn't have to call himself a creative actor, so why should we [producers] have to call ourselves creative producers? Indie Film Culture needs to produce an environment healthy to the evolution of Good Producers. Y'know, people who are filmmakers too, and not just business men. Kevin Smith would have been nothing without Scott Mosier and Bob Hawk. Lastly, I think the mentality propogated by Robert Roderigeuz (and even Harry) of 'you can do it if you want' needs to be toned down. Or at least people need to be made aware that natural selection is rampant in this industry. For every indie hit, there's hundres of misses. Its how it is [yo].

  • May 19, 2001, 9:29 p.m. CST

    'Movies' as such

    by Billy Talent

    It's time to acknowledge that the multiplexes belong to Hollywood. Sure, there's the odd 'Blair Witch', and some high profile independent/art movies get limited theatrical distribution, but most of us are not going to get too many opportunities to have our films screened in movie theatres. While it's true that Direct-To-Video is a dumping ground for some unspeakably terrible movies, it also opens new room for some really interesting things. It should be destigmatized.

  • May 19, 2001, 10:09 p.m. CST

    ahhhh shit

    by MimiRogers3rdNip

    harry is michael bay. this site's just like a big dumb hollywood blockbuster. the other sites bitch about it. theres always a dozen people calling harry a sell out. in the end people still flock to this site just like they flock to mummy returns. harrys on tv, hes in magazines. he has the same promotional equivalent of a summer movie. he's got the buzz. and articles like this are just his "pearl harbor." bay took on a serious topic to get some respect. thats what i see in this article. no big deal really. i read this article and i'll see pearl harbor. wont change the world. and, really, if someone needs to read this to know how hollywood works, theyre not too bright and i doubt any film they made would be worth seeing.

  • May 20, 2001, 12:50 a.m. CST


    by foreverguardian

    thank you Harry........ I had all but given up on my movie. I guess I'm back on it. It'll be hell making the thing, but you'll be the first to get the trailer. Thanks for keeping my dream alive.

  • May 20, 2001, 1:07 a.m. CST

    Making a movie

    by stopmo

    I know my situation is probably different than most, but I am making a film on my on. I am using my own money, which is a no-no, but this is something I've always wanted to do. Whether it is seen by anyone other than my family and friends, at least I can say I did it. Like Yoda says 'do or do not'.

  • May 20, 2001, 5:25 a.m. CST

    No space for non-commercial films? Make it for TV.

    by virkku

    If you do a non-commercial film, you should make it cheap. It's true that in the the american multi-plexes of today there is not much space for art-films. Things are probably better here in Europe, but face the fact: Your art-film has to be EXCEPTIONALLY good to get a theatrical release. There is a crowd for art-films, but that crowd settles to watch Requiem For A Dream of Dancer In The Dark instead. It' unlikely that YOU are as talented as Trier or Aranofsky. As a filmmaker I believe that I have talent and I might make it big someday, but I don't COUNT on it. Making movies is hard and you should be happy if you pull a full lengt film which is "rather good" as a whole. So, because it's unlikely that your film will get a major theatrical release, settle for TV and video instead. There is lot's of space and money around in there. You know how TV distribution companies sell films in PACKAGES? They have one hit movie, and they sell 4-5 non-popular movies with it. The buyer doesn't want those 4-5 other movies, but they have no choice. Since they have purchased them, they are going to show those movies as well. Your movie might not be succesful enough to be that hit movie, so try your film to be one of those 4-5 films. TV market is huge and you can make a good profit, if you keep your budget small. That way you can keep on doing films and someday you might make it big.

  • May 20, 2001, 5:33 a.m. CST


    by virkku

    So when my debut film is ready, I'm happy if it gets a video release in some country. I would be PROUD of it. We are making it for less than 10.000 dollars and according to first 15 minutes we have made, it looks pretty cool. Not like a homevideo at all and looks ten times more expensive than it is. It's an exploitation film with a more original and "artsy" script than usual. But I don't count to get a video release, that's why my main goal is to sell the film to several TV distributors for a good profit. They will sell it as part of their packages to cable channels. I can expect to get around 50.000-150.000 worldwide like that. That's a lot of money and ables me to pay my rent and make the second film with a lot bigger budget. I can also get more outside investors, since I have already proved myself. Hopefully the film will turn out good enough. I thank Harry for making me believe in myself a bit more once again.

  • May 20, 2001, 9:33 p.m. CST

    Why do you want to make movies?

    by joefusion

    Harry has some good points. If you're dreaming of making the movie you've always wanted to that's great. But why do you want to make it? That's what people on this board should be discussing. If you're making a personal, character driven, human triumph indie film that's really just a "spiced-up" version of your own life, what are your expectations? Do you want everyone to just love it and get invited on talk shows and have people sympathasize with you on how the films darker moments reflected the true-life tragedy of your own life? I mean why do you want to make movies? I'm a student filmaker just ready to wrap on my most ambitious project yet and I can tell you why I want to make movies. I want to tell stories and give people an original cinematic experience. That's it. If I get rich great, but I would be just as happy if I could make a decent film and then get the opportunity to make another decent film. Darren Arronofsky said something to the effect of being happy just haveing the opportunity to make films for a living. I feel the same way, because when it comes down to it you don't need much to live.

  • May 21, 2001, 3:19 a.m. CST

    RE: Mr. Sleep

    by virkku

    "Virkuu, you have failed to respond to my arguments with even the barest hint of reason". RE: Instead of just saying so, why don't you try to break my arguments? You are a lot more convincing that way. "There is nothing special about you. You are not smarter than the rest of us. You are not smarter/stronger/better than us." RE: And neither have I ever claimed to be. "How can you know that no one on this board is as talented as Von Trier?" RE: I haven't claimed that none of you is as talented as he is, I said it's UNLIKELY. Von Trier is an exceptional talent and there are very few like him. "How can you tell that we are all "lazy"" RE: I haven't claimed so, I've said that MOST wannabe filmmakers are too lazy to really work for their dreams. "I have already explained, in great detail, using concrete examples and logical arguments, what it is that we object to." RE: I did understand what YOU objected to. My first posts were not strict answers to YOU. I already later explained in concrete examples and logical arguments why YOUR disagreement with Harry didn't make sense. Quite a few other talkbackers have done it as well. "You have responded to this by attacking our abilities, our intelligence, and our work-ethic; giving no examples to support these statements." RE: I already apologized for acting too aggressively. I also pointed out that my "attack" was made to whiny wannabe filmmakers who have no guts to work for their dreams. You might have noticed that quite a few other talkbackers have made the same comments. I'm not claiming that YOU are one of these whiners. "The stupidity of some talk-backer amazes me" RE: Yes it does, people who attack Harry with very bad arguments... "Who the hell do you thin you are Harry, YOU HAVE NEVER EVEN BEEN IN FILMSCHOOL" and other BS like that. I guess it's useless to answer the rest of your arguments since you are starting to repeat yourself. If you want to argue with someone, please read his posts, then make quotes of his text and try to argument back to him. That way you won't be twisting his words so much. The funny thing is that your last post didn't even try to break my arguments, instead you opted for personal attacks. I already said tham I'm sorry for acting too aggressively, despite standing by my opinions. Maybe you should do the same?

  • May 21, 2001, 9:49 p.m. CST

    Lipgloss Explosion

    by 2000

    I saw the movie Lipgloss Explosion recently in L.A. and I think that movie totally represents the underdog and everything that was said in the above article on indie films. This is a movie made for pennies and had a totally unknown cast, but it was very entertaining and fun and was something that i would see again before i step foot into the predictable mess called The Mummy Returns.