The Art and Industry of American Independent Film
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Course Number: NFLM 3466
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
"It is time to blow the whole thing up," declared filmmaker Jonas Mekas in 1960. As Hollywood began to falter in imagination, many young, even amateur, moviemakers decided to take their careers into their own hands, and the American independent film movement was born. This course traces its rise in the 1970s and 1980s through its explosion in the last 25 years. We examine the artistic, political, and industrial concerns that affected independent filmmakers, from low-budget pioneers like John Cassavetes and John Sayles to breakthrough artists like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh. In addition to discussing style and content, we give special attention to the business, from production to distribution to marketing, including the evolving role of digital technologies and social media. Students watch the following seminal indie films outside of class: Shadows, Stranger than Paradise, Do the Right Thing, and Memento.