Once upon a time, in a land not-so-far away, a filmmaker moved to LA to become a big hit in Hollywood. He/She had dreams… Well, we all heard this story. However, we often don’t hear the end of it. What happens to the filmmaker? Does the independent filmmaker strong enough to face the Tyrant Hollywood? Faces, races, and time change, but the story stays the same. In 1910, after the filming of the first short movie, Hollywood ascended to power. Within a century, Hollywood became the power of the entertainment industry. People all around the world come to Hollywood to be a part of it. Naturally, of all those people only a few of them succeeds. What happens to the rest?
Independent Cinema is powerful. Even though, Hollywood seems like a monopoly, independent cinema presents an alternative way of storytelling. VMP Films, an independent production company, boldly challenges new ways of telling a story in the entertainment industry. Their films such as Shades of Day, Notes from the New World, and many more have won awards from world renounced festivals. In addition, with director Vitaly Sumin’s keen talent, VMP Films adds a new perspective to stories that are inspired by the classic literature books. So, in this article, Hollywood and Independent Cinema’s power dynamics will be discussed. Do Hollywood and Independent Cinema at war? Or do they, in a way, complete each other?
Monopoly of Hollywood
Single-handedly, Hollywood was in power for so long. Some say the key to its success lies in a pattern. In Joseph Campbell’s book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, he analyzes storyteller patterns throughout history and how it is similar to the way modern storytellers tell a story. Hero’s journey stays the same throughout history. Thus, it is safe to say, that there is a secret formula to telling an appealing story. So, Hollywood utilizes this formula. The formula has many names. Save-the-cat beat sheet, three-act structure, etc. Hollywood is successful. However, Hollywood also repeats itself. With the online platforms’ viewer rates increase, Hollywood, the so-called Monopoly, is shaken. The repetition brings unoriginal ways of telling the story.
What is Independent Cinema?
“Independent filmmakers see themselves as challenging the hegemony of Hollywood, eschewing entertainment—fantasy, pleasure, happy endings—and offering instead harsh and “edgy” stories about life in contemporary society.” (Ortner, 2012)Ortner, Sherry. B. (2012). Against Hollywood – American independent film as a critical cultural movement. University of California, Los Angeles.
According to the article “American Independent Film as a Critical Cultural Movement”, Independent films are often harsh and edgy. The writer also suggests that independent films are the antithesis of Hollywood studio films. Even though, this proposition has a truth to it, it is not entirely correct. Independent films are an alternative way of storytelling. It is a free space where a filmmaker can be free and experimental. This is the beauty of it. While Hollywood loves following the rules, Independent filmmakers love to break them. Independent films are still compelling and attractive but in a non-traditional way. Furthermore, independent films are beautiful and complex.
Role of Festivals and Awards in Independent Cinema
“Indie cinema is committed to cultural diversity, showcasing new works by filmmakers whose voices have been unheard or ignored in dominant culture.” – (Levy, 1999)Levy, Emanuel. (1999). Cinema of Outsiders. In The Rise of American Independent Film (p. 52). New York and London: New York University Press.
Even though, the dominant culture fixates on big studio movies, the festivals are making a big difference and making the voices of independent filmmakers heard. For instance, VMP Films, a thriving production company has many successful movies. Vitaly Sumin in the director’s seat, Notes from the New World has won 28 awards and 12 nominations. The film is inspired by Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. This movie tells a story about a young man torn between two women, each of them pretending to be someone else. In this dangerous game, he also faces the Russian Mafia. Unlike most traditional studio movies, Notes from the New World has many layers in each scene. Moreover, the subtext is strong and carries the movie.
Shades of Day
Another amazing independent movie produced by VMP Films and directed by Vitaly Sumin is Shades of Day. The Shades (download the press kit) was selected by the Rutgers University’s professor Gerard Pirog for his course in cinema, along with the classic works by Bertolucci, Kurosawa, Bresson, Scorsese,
Shrader, Von Sternberg… So far, the movie won 15 awards and 6 nominations from festivals all around the world. Inspired by Dostoyevsky’s White Nights, Shades of Day is about a screenwriter, who rescues a beautiful woman. However, she is set to meet her ex-lover after two years. The movie is about friendship, betrayal, and love. Vitaly Sumin told this story in a non-traditional way. He shot the film both in color and black & white; he used voices and motifs to tell the story on a subconscious level. Thus, it is a truly unique movie with a unique storytelling style.
VMP Films’ Upcoming Movies
VMP Films produces many amazing films and there are more yet to come. AN LA STORY: The Making of the award-winning Notes from the New World is an astonishing documentary, which is currently in post-production. The movie has already won an award before it is released. Moscow Indie Film Festival granted this movie with an award for Best Trailer. When it comes to VMP Films and Vitaly Sumin, it is not wrong to assume they will continue to produce more amazing movies. To keep track of their upcoming productions, SIGN UP for their Newsletters for free.
Independent Movies vs. Mainstream Hollywood
Hollywood refuses to stray from the winning formula, which may mean that soon independent filmmakers will gain recognition for their ability to fill the entertainment gap with low-budget, unique, and insightful movies. – (Hales, 2015)Hales, Emily. (2015, March 23). Hollywood is falling and independent film hopes to take its place. Retrieved from Universe narratives: https://universe.byu.edu/narratives/hollywood-independent-film/
The sentence speaks for itself. Even though, Hollywood has a formula, it doesn’t mean Independent Movies cannot win. In VMP Films’ case, it is already winning. While Hollywood plays it safe, in a constantly changing world, trying out new things and styles is a necessity. Therefore, playing it safe might not be an option in the near future. Producing insightful, unique, and creative movies like VMP Films is what audiences crave. Staying still in a current is not an option. Consequently, Hollywood would have to make changes to its formula or accept the defeat. Independent filmmakers, aka. outsiders are taking over with their creativity, and there is no way to stop them.
Lastly, independent films approach filmmaking from an innovative angle. While Hollywood keeps using the same formula, independent filmmakers look for new and unique ways to tell the stories. Film Festivals are the biggest support independent filmmakers are getting. With awards, independent movies are being recognized and getting the attention they deserve. To name a few, VMP Films’ Shades of Day, Notes from the New World and upcoming film An LA Story. The audience can also do their part to support independent and unique movies, simply by following their journey, signing up for their newsletters, and even contributing financially. Therefore, you are strongly encouraged to follow VMP Films’ journey.
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