Saturday, March 05, 2011

Winter's Bone as eg of Indie budget-raising

In an insightful article on Debra Granik's Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone, we get useful info on working as a female director, and the lengths she personally went to to achieve verisimilitude (a sense of realism) in her movie (find much more on fem. dirs here). We also get a sense of the struggles facing Indie productions - and the pressures to give into commercial considerations once a higher budget is offered:
The top films at Sundance picked up 14 Oscar nominations this year, more than ever before, thanks primarily to Winter's Bone and The Kids Are All Right, which also got four. Does this mean it's a golden age for independent film? "Oh God, no, that would be premature." Raising the film's $2m budget was a struggle. Signing a distribution deal was a triumph in itself.
Now that it's brought in $6.4m at the box office in the US alone, Granik is hot property. Studio financiers who have apparently not seen her films, or at least not digested what makes them good, are suddenly keen to throw money at her next project. She wants to make a movie about bomb-sniffing dogs that return from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, centred on a family coming to terms with the death of their son, but the people who own the rights can already hear patriotic strings swelling in the background.
"They want to see completeness, tied-upness, the dad healing. They said to me: 'With the money that we're offering you, you can have 500 people at the Purple Heart ceremony at the start of the film.' I told them that I wasn't going to have a Purple Heart ceremony, and they said: 'Well, how do you show that the loss of his life was meaningful?'" She wonders if becoming a bankable, Academy-endorsed director will make it harder to do what she does best, without studio interference.

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