Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #703: Lionsgate Goes Micro...

Mini-major Lionsgate has announced a new slate that's the opening salvo of their plan to release around 10 "microbudget" films a year, with each having a budget below $2 million.

It seems logical since Lionsgate got its start producing and releasing low budget genre pictures, and I do like the idea, however, I do have some doubts and fears that it will end up like Paramount's micro-budget Insurge label, which, so far, hasn't amounted to much of anything.

There's a purpose to micro-budget movies, actually several purposes and they are:

1. Creating a product that has low potential for risk, but high potential for reward.

2. Finding and fostering new talent.

3. Teaching that new talent how to make films that put every dollar on the screen.

Now purpose #1 is easy, at least relatively, because all it requires is to fight the urge to attempt to solve every problem with money instead of imagination. That can be done in the comfort of the corporate headquarters. Purposes #2 & #3 are different, they are hard, they require the burning of calories, because the sort of people interested in, and, capable of making movies so cheap are not going to be found in the Hollywood mainstream.

I'm certain the reason why Insurge has failed to surge in anything other than being just a graphic at the beginning of the Justin Bieber movie is that they made the announcement, patted themselves on the back, and then didn't know what the hell they were going to do next. Such projects only rarely fall on the laps of studio executives the way Paranormal Activity did. To find more of such films, and the people that make them they are going to have to go out and look.


1. Film schools, outside the usual UCLA/USC/NYU axis.

2. Regional film cooperatives outside Southern California.

3. Film festivals that are off the well beaten tracks of Sundance, SXSW, & Toronto International.

What do all these things have in common?

They involve getting out of Hollywood's precious Thirty Mile Zone and wearing out some shoe leather. Now it doesn't have to involve a lot of travel, resources on the internet can help narrow down the search, weed out the deadwood, space-cases, and people not interested in making films that actually seek an actual audience, but some travel in the outer provinces among the great unwashed will have to happen.

Will Lionsgate go through with this plan?

Will they succeed?

Well, they have more connections with the indie film world than Paramount, so the odds are better, but whether or not they have the gumption to put a little sweat on the brow getting it done, will have to be seen.

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