Misfire: The Rise and Fall of the Shooting Gallery

I came across this documentary that best describes the indie film movement of the 90’s.  It was during this time I was really inspired about making films, and I guess that’s why I was driven to create my own film.

Throughout the 90’s the shooting Gallery was a production company that produced such films as “Laws of Gravity”, “You can Count on Me“, “Niagara, Niagara“,”Croupier” and “Sling Blade“.  In a way it was a company making movies with low budgets and selling them at a bigger return from distributors.   But it all went bad because it became less about the movies and more about the money.

That was then and this is now.  What’s changed is that film-making has been democratized for better or worse.  The Internet has changed the landscape of film-making.   At the end  of the documentary some of the filmmakers in the video feel that there should be a resurgence of another independent movement. It’s a great note to leave us on, but one I think that won’t come again.  The demise of The Shooting Gallery happened because it got farther away from its core principle, and that was to make films by film-makers.  It defied the Hollywood standard, and spoke to the individual artist that he or she could create their own content like the “French New Wave” did in the 50’s in France.  I believe the spirit of the independent film is still much alive, and happening on digital platforms.

The problem is that there are more and more outlets of corporate entities who now control the distribution pipeline more then ever.  Netflix, Disney, Hulu, and even now Apple have  started their own streaming services.  There are also less and less independent venues such as theaters to show ones film now.   Most theaters have been gobbled up by corporations such as AMC, United Artist, and Regal theaters, but even with all this I still see the glass as half full.  Filmmaking is a business and always has been.  The successful filmmakers who actually made money are the filmmakers who got involved in distribution.  Roger Corman comes to mind, and earlier then that Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W Griffith formed United Artist to distribute their films.  Both are two different examples in two different eras in film distribution and the independent filmmaker.  One company (United Artist) formed in 1919 during the silent era, and the other formed (New World Pictures) in the 70’s when drive-in theaters were outlets for B-movies.

In todays climate the landscape has changed, and though there are more choices to distribute your film digitally it is harder then ever to do so and make a profit at it.  In my opinion the best way is to distribute your movie is doing it yourself.   Through platforms like Amazon, Vimeo, or iTunes.  If there is movement on the film you may draw interest from other media platforms, which may lead to bigger distribution for your film.   It is the most viable option for a truly independent artist.  The festival route is also a viable avenue, but if you know nobody in those circles it becomes a bit difficult to place in a festival.   There is no guarantee of ever getting a distribution deal from a festival showing though it does make a movie more attractive to distributors.

Grassroots seems to be the only option.  It’s from here where the new independent movement looks the most viable.    Maybe I’ll flesh this idea out some more in later blog entries but for now all I can say is that the new frontier awaits.  Keep plugging away and we’re all be waiting.   Keep creating….

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