Though I should be a child of the 90s given by birth year, when it comes to music, I am mostly a child to the 80s. Right now,Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” ballad is the soundtrack swirling around in my head as I write.
Via Twitter, I followed, loosely, the events at Berlinale. The article from Berlinale that stuck out for me was Eric Eidelstein’s interview with Isabel Coixet featured on Indiewire.
The director of Nobody Wants The Night boldly states:
“I will never ever again work for a studio. I did it before and it was a nightmare; it almost ruined my career.”
While I have never worked for a studio, I have also never tried. I have, however, tried the “studio” approach to indie filmmaking, by which I mean creating a film based exclusively on the idea of what is supposed to “sell,” what would be “marketable” and get myself and my producing partner, Writer/Director Ramon Hamilton, whom I still work with, noticed by Hollywood or by a large production company.
And, of all the films I’ve ever worked on, that was the film that was a “nightmare” and which I will say could have “ruined my career,” so Coixet’s words resonated with me. We “sold it,” but have never seen a dime from that sell (though we were supposed to get a portion of net profits). The film was mentioned by IFC as one of the top indie DVDs to look for in 2009, but today I couldn’t even tell you who owns the rights or why its IMDB rating spikes from time to time. Someone’s watching it, buying it, making money off of it, but not us. And, it’s not our best work. It’s not anything I’m proud of as you probably could guess, since I’m not mentioning the film by name.
Since then, Ramon and I have formed Think Ten Media Group and have quite staunchly avoided creating work with “Hollywood” in mind. We’ve realized that focusing on being discovered by a big studio is just not the approach that works for us. Hoping to be discovered and appreciated by “Hollywood” doesn’t connect at all with the reasons we create stories. It’s not why we wanted to make films and media projects in the first place, so we’re no longer letting it distract us from telling the stories we want to tell.
Once we liberated ourselves from that goal — to be discovered, to get someone else to say “yes” to our work — we began creating media that actually mattered to us, and to the audience we want to connect with, and we began to view our media and its audience differently. Bonus: we began to succeed. Now, I’m proud of the work that we do (like our latest feature SMUGGLED and our upcoming webseries The wHOLE). I couldn’t always say that before. Plus, I’m proud of everyone we partner with and engage in our work, which I also couldn’t say before.
As Coixet articulates in her article, making your media your way is often very challenging — it probably means the budget is on the leaner side, and it probably also means wearing several hats (she notes that she was editing while they were shooting), but it also means you get to make your film. As Coixet states: “I rather make my own mistakes. In this film I had to say it was difficult. Sometimes, we needed more time. But I prefer to make a film like this in the conditions we had, if I have freedom.”
Her words resonate completely with why Think Ten Media Group has decided to stay fiercely independent. Fierce. Independent. Proud. Inspiring. – Welcome to Think Ten.