Much has been said and written recently about the crisis state of the current independent film marketplace and model. While some people are optimistic and energized by the shifting landscape, and shifting possibilities, most are uncertain about how it will all shake out, infusing a tangible anxiety into the atmosphere for all of us filmmakers. The ongoing dialogue within the independent film community is exciting but terrifying too. There’s an urgency that now dictates the conversation. Is theatrical dead for the majority of indies, or can we as a community save it? DVD is dying a slow death, too, well documented in the trades and business papers given Hollywood’s major concern here. VOD via television and digital downloads online, can these streams be monetized in a valuable way that is not exploitative to the majority of independent content creators with quality “product” to offer? Do distinct distribution windows that kowtow to the theatrical release matter anymore to audience consumers? How does the business model adjust so that the premiums paid translate in this era of multi-platform pleasure? How do you reach the audience for your film, with or without the muscle of a major or even minor distribution mechanism? The questions are endless, the answers many and imperfect.
Where does this leave us with HARVEST, a truly indie film, just now entering the fray of festival submissions, sales and distribution, and at the starting stages of building its audience? There are a few things we know about HARVEST. It’s an honest portrayal of a family going through a pivotal event. The performances, the dialogue, the filmmaking overall, all share an emotional authenticity. This film has multi-generational appeal, made for a plus 30-yr old audience, including especially baby boomers and seniors who seek more “sophisticated” fare. Noted film exec and producer Mark Gill’s now industry infamous “the sky really is falling” keynote address last year intelligently laid out what is wrong and what can be right with the film business during these relatively dire straits. HARVEST was in pre-production at the time of the keynote, and we were actually invigorated by Gill’s speech given some of his key points. One of his biggies was that quality of emotional content is what matters, that we want from our movies something that moves us. HARVEST has and does this, no question. Also, that there is a growing audience for quality, being that the baby boom is aging, and so tastes matures. This is our audience. Lastly, the idea that quality itself is a genre. Quality does matter. Audiences matter.
Just last week, former Fox and Disney executive and now uber-producer Bill Mechanic gave a conference keynote, and again, we’re invigorated. He asks that if the audiences are shifting (since those in their teens and twenties are going to the movies less in favor of other entertainment options), why then isn’t the product shifting as well to accommodate the people actually going to the movies, meaning people over 30 years old. Why is it that the studios are making fewer films for adults, and not supporting the ones they do make with ample advertising and proper tlc. With that then, with regard to the indie world, why is it that stories about marginalized characters and communities gain praise (as well some should), or quirky comedies carry weight as a kind of rule, but it is more difficult for an intimate story with broad appeal to an adult audience to gain support, the kind of film now referred to as a “tweener,” where HARVEST lives. Another salient point Mechanic made is that independent producers are actually quite dependent. The truth is we’re dependent on audiences most of all. HARVEST is dependent on you. Now is when we begin the work of building our audience, by staying connected with supporters, and growing that support through online efforts like these, and then of course increasingly sharing the film with audiences, partnering with organizations whose members might care about our movie, and on. It’s only through your support that HARVEST lives. So please spread the word, share and subscribe to and follow this blog, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll have a trailer soon, and we look forward to sharing HARVEST with you.