Independent Revival

Independent film was on the minds of everyone at the Toronto Film Festival, earlier this season. TIFF marks the start of serious film season. Say goodbye to the superhero flicks and popcorn action movies of summer and say hello to the artsy, high-thinking, and foreign films. Celebrities, directors, and producers swarm Toronto for the film festival, which draws in a varied array of attendees. This year, they have reason to further celebrate film. Independent films, after a few years of dragging along at a lull, are surging forward again.

In 2008, budgets for independent filmmaking was reaching abysmal lows, almost resembling those of B-movies because the banks stopped lending. Renting movies went mostly out the window. Half of the major film studios stopped their subsidiaries that specialised in buying independent film. Hopefully, the past is the past. After those rough few years, sales have picked up. CBS Films and Open Road Studios have stepped up to replace the studios who fled. Thanks to The King’s Speech, the Weinstein Company is no longer on the verge of falling apart. Summit and Lionsgate are looking promising.

The post-financial-crisis landscape is easier to film on, as it turns out. Actor’s salaries are still lessened. Independent film studios know how to make the most of the situation, experts at using state and country competition for subsidies. The market was saturated before the crisis — now it’s not. That means the market needs and wants more, and many films that were in the works before are making their way back up. Independent films are now more independent — action-oriented or kids’ movies are easier to turn into money-making blockbusters, so that’s what the non-independent studios are focusing on. With DVD sales drastically down, encouraging people to the cinema becomes even more important. Some indie films can venture out-of-country well.

Films that get released theatrically are still rare compared to the amount shown at festivals, but with money and quality filmmaking back in gear, things are looking up.

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