Wednesday, March 1, 2017

MOONLIGHT - A Sort of Indie Movie Revolution

Oscar Winner, Best Picture 2017
This past week, as you already know because of all the commotion (possibly planned publicity) surrounding the Oscars Award Ceremony, an underdog Indie film, Moonlight, won the Oscar for best picture.

That, however, came about in a strange way because the powers that be, or the careless presenters who did not second guess the obvious error when they were handed the wrong envelope (Best Supporting Actress, Emma Stone) went ahead anyway and announced the wrong winner, thereby allowing three producers to give an acceptance speech for an award they had not won.

Who does that? Nice going Warren Beatty for not speaking up and allowing an obvious mistake to perpetuate. What were you thinking? Didn't you know you were given the wrong envelope? YES! He obviously did know and still announced the wrong winner. Why?

The short answer is he's an idiot. The longer answer is that he didn't want to expose either his or the Academy's shortcomings by trying to correct their mistake on live television. So he made the decision to make everything worse instead. Sorry, Warren Beatty but that was as lame as the movies you make.

But who really cares? It's just an award show. And that's according to Jimmy Kimmel.

Okay, enough of all that. We know that most of Hollywood is flaky. The proof is in most of the horrible movies they unabashedly make, year after year.

And that leads to my real story, the Indie Revolution.

A Chick-Flick with an awesome ending
I'm calling it The Indie Revolution because that's exactly what it wants to be and it has been on the verge of becoming a revolution for the last 20 years or so. Well, it's almost here and now. The Indie Movie Industry is officially the new kid on the block. Or they should be.

Not that any of this matters to Hollywood but it's about time they got their ass kicked playing their own game and they totally deserve it for being money-hungry charlatans with astronomical budgets that mostly produce lavish, uninspired movies as shallow as a puddle of muddy water.

I certainly hope this is a chance for independent writers to count in an industry mired by so many trivial stories and inept producers who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.

But I really doubt it because the Hollywood elites and their machinations are well entrenched and stronger than ever and eager to spew out their few really good movies, such as 21 Grams or Thelma and Louise as notable bookends to a litany of studio losers in between.

But in all honesty, we must credit the writers and directors of such films. Thank you Alejandro Inarritu, Guillermo Arriaga, and Callie Khouri for your refreshing work.

"Blair Witch Project was the best example
of Hollywood's inept, greedy ways."

But forget the creatives, Moonlight's budget was 1.5 million and so far has grossed close to 28 million and counting. Not a bad ROI. (Go Arri Alexa! Forgive me. I'm a camera techie.)

In 1999 The Blair Witch Project debuted at The Sundance Film Festival with a small budget of only $60,000 and eventually went on to gross about $250 million worldwide making it one of the most successful independent films of all time.

That was almost twenty years ago and the number of independent films since then has grown exponentially and this year's Oscar-winning, Moonlight, will undoubtedly inspire the Indie Film Industry as we've never seen before.

What does that mean for Hollywood? Nothing, apparently. They haven't taken a clue since Blair Witch so what makes you think they will follow Moonlight's lead? BTW, kudos to Mahershala Ali for his Oscar-winning performance and props to director, Barry Jenkins for his vision bringing Moonlight to life in such a fascinating and unexpected way. We need more stories like this. Black stories. LGBT stories. Meaningful stories that are culturally important and relevant. Stories that lead with their hearts and minds and not their wallets. Well, sort of because it's always about the money first.

But you see, Hollywood makes money either way. To Hollywood, movies are all about DVD sales, cable distribution, global markets, etc. Hollywood could care less about blowing 100 million dollars on a lame movie because they know they'll eventually make their money back via one revenue stream or another either in the U.S. or more importantly, abroad.

"Art is secondary to Hollywood . . ."

Art is secondary to Hollywood because the big money is in high concept formulaic blockbuster films with the old tried and true themes and plots and gimmicks, otherwise known as, required scenes or set pieces that every movie must accommodate in order to be relevant and "successful."

Interesting Indie-like Film

And this is why Hollywood producers and apparently its writers are okay with their standard scripts because they are sure-fire money makers. Although that's debatable but the point is that Hollywood is always going to be Hollywood because they can be and they don't need little films like Blair Witch or Moonlight to influence them in any way because it's not about art but about the almighty dollar. We get it. Nothin new under the sun.

The LGBT Angle

Speaking of winners and losers and nothing new, let's mention the obvious. Hollywood still comes out on top because Moonlight is more than a culturally important film but also an LGBT offering featuring an all-black cast. And it's no secret that creatives, especially the executives and producers, and its influencers in Hollywood, for the most part are a big part of the LGBT landscape. Hmm, sounds like a win, win, win.

Nothing wrong with being a hungry Hollywood producer either. But it's us, the audience, the end user who ultimately pays the price for their capitalistic ways, whether we like it or not.

After all Xfinity's HBO programming is still peddling 20-year-old movies. Go figure. Plenty of poor schmucks are still buying them too. Whether they like it or not.

Not exactly breaking news, but it's all about advertising dollars, my friends.

And you thought this was an Indie Revolution?


Thanks for the Advertising Revolution, Hollywood!