The Sundance Film Festival got over this week in Park City, Utah. This film festival which ranks along with Cannes, Moscow, Berlin, Italy and Toronto in prestige is the largest independent cinema festivals in the United States. Many film makers such as Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and Steven Soderbergh got their break here and movies such as The Blair Witch Project, El Mariachi, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, got fame from this festival.
The movies shown in this festival are low-budget films called indie films which means that less than half of the budget of the movie came from a major movie studio. Usually indie films have themes which are quite different from the typical mass entertainers produced by major studios and vary in style and content. The indie film industry now has about 15% of the domestic box office revenues in United States.
The movies made in [tag]Kerala[/tag] can be called indie films as they are usually produced by individual producers, stars, wives or their drivers. They put their personal wealth into movies and based on how bad the output is and how willing the viewers are to tolerate that output, the future of the producer is decided.
While developed countries are experimenting with Indie films, we need to experiment with the studio system. These studios which can go public on the stock market can raise capital from the markets and fund lavish movies. Studios can be efficient and can have trained professionals to look at each aspect of film making.
The multiplex boom is happening in India and investors are looking beyond the metros to smaller towns like Kochi, Bhatinda, Coimbatore, Kota, Madurai and Ambala. Lavish productions like Tamil and Hindi movies will have a good run in such theatres and for [tag]Malayalam Cinema[/tag] to hold up, there has to be more influx of money into film making which can come from the studio system.
Once upon a time Navodaya used to be a premier studio in Kerala lapping up the latest technology like 70mm, 6-track stereophonic sound, and 3-D. Now a days no single producer can lift such heavy load and cash rich studios can help.
In an interview with us, playback singer Alex Mathew mentioned that currently his life and the life of many others working in the film industry depends on the willingness of one single producer to make a movie. Major motion picture studios can offer long term contracts to creative personal thus offering more stability.
Right now the the film industry is held hostage by organizations like [tag]AMMA[/tag] which is like a coterie which decides who will do what. You need AMMA’s permission to appear on stage, appear on televisions and even to go to the bathroom. .
Having multiple studios compete for talent will help here. Motivated by the desire to make profits, studios will be less bothered by such ego clashes. If you have the talent and the ability to attract an audience, then they will be willing to invest in you. In the case of Tom Cruise his private behavior offended the head honcho of Paramount and he was fired, but he immediately took over as the head of United Artistes film studio. Right now in Kerala, if you offended any of the AMMA members, then you can pretty much say good bye to your career.
We cannot ridicule other film industries and say that we will make only arty-classy movies. Those are required, but along with that we need to produce good entertainers and big budget movies. There has to be something more exciting to pull viewers off their tear jerking mega serials on television. If theatres are closing down to lack of viewership, even those arty-classy movies will die away.