Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Greatest Independent Filmmaker

            The Greatest Independent Filmmaker

    Some of you will disagree strongly with this statement. I will make it anyway.

    Alfred Hitchcock was not only the greatest filmmaker of the 20th century, but he was the greatest indie filmmaker as well.

   “He worked for studios all of his life. He made the most hated of all types of films to the old world of indie film makers. He made the kind of films that made money. You can’t call that guy an indie film maker.”

   I can and I will.

    Look at it this way, in the world that Hitchcock lived in there was no way that you could be a truly indie filmmaker. The only one who tried it was Orson Welles and he got crushed by the studios. Movies cost a fortune to produce. The only way to distribute them was through the studios and the theaters that they owned and operated. Tv did not exist when he started his career. There was no dvds, no videos, no digital downloads, no internet. He had to work within the system and take his shots when he could.

   In England he had some control near the end of his time making movies there. Arriving in America he was employed by David O Selznick, a hyper control freak who had no problem with re-editing Hitckcock’s films. Some would argue that he re-edited Rebecca into winning best picture. I would argue that it was probably a best picture winner before he touched it and if it had lost Hitchcock would have won with the first of his truly indie productions in America the film Foreign Correspondent.    

   When not working for Selznick his contract was loaned out to other studios. This gave Hitchcock the freedom to do within reason what ever films that he wished to. This allowed him to make the movie that would be his favorite, Shadow Of A Doubt. He took a movie star and turned him into a serial killer before most of the world had any idea of what a serial killer was.

   A few years later Hitchcock would gain his total independence and form his own production company. This did not last long due to the fact that he wanted to be a little too experimental. He made the movie Rope that was shot in ten minute takes. Easy to do now, but a nightmare to do back in the forties. At the turn of the 1950s he was back working for the studios with a new respect for what they could provide and also what it took to make truly independent films. He would spend the next ten years making a few movie for fun and profit and then others for himself. This cycle would allow him to give the studios what they wanted. Massive hits like Strangers on a Train, The Man Who Knew Too Much and the Blockbuster North By Northwest.
His indie type on movies were almost as successful. Movies like The Trouble With Harry, I Confess, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and Vertigo.

   If nothing I have offered has gotten through and you still think Hitchcock was only a big studio director and nothing more please explain Psycho.

    He took a tv crew to shoot a movie. He shot it in six weeks. He shot it in black and white. He used mostly his own money. He took a movie star and killed her a third of the way into the movie. He was the most famous director on earth. Famous for elegant thrillers with Grant and Stewart and Grace Kelly. Nearing the age of sixty he hammered the film going world with a dark and bloody little thriller that despite hundreds of attempts no one has been able to come close to repeating during the last 50 years.

    And he followed that one up by spending a year working on and shooting The Birds.

    Hitchcock could have relaxed. He could have settled into doing the same movie over and over again, but instead he was always stretching and straining to do what had never been done before.

    Indie stands for independent. Doing it your way is what will make or break your indie film. Right now there is a film festival in my city. Except for the Graveyard shift (horror and action from around the world) there is not much independence of thought on display. Do not think about festivals or awards when making your film. Do not think about anything, but what will please you and the audience that you have in mind. This is why Hitchcock’s films have endured the test of time.

    Are their filmmakers today who work within a studio system and still managed to maintain their independence? Have a look at the films of the great foreign filmmaker Takashi Miike. Izo, Zebraman, One Missed Call, The Happiness Of the Katakuris, The 13 Assassins, Audition and Ichi the Killer. He has done a dozen more I could name.

    This post has strictly been my opinion.

    Okay that is it for today. The next post is going to most likely be about Found Footage. I know that we have talked about this subject before, but it has become a Genre that is almost strictly part of the horror film world and I think that it is time to grow the genre.

    Thank you for visiting and I am still looking for my first guest Blog post. If I could pick the subject it would be editing. That is my weakness and it must be someone’s strength.

    Okay good luck and good bye for now.
Digital Cameras

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