L.A. Film Festival ’06: The Revolution Will Be Personal

“Independent” is a very fashionable adjective. Put it in front of the word “music” or “film,” and watch pure garbage transform into highly acclaimed “art.”

But with festivals like Sundance and Cannes increasingly becoming studio shark feeding frenzies, “independent” is also a very meaningless word.

That might change.

The buzz at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week is all about “the little guy” kicking movie studios in the groin the way he already zinged the music industry.

One such little guy, filmmaker Lance Weiler directed, wrote and produced his new film Head Trauma.

That’s not that unusual, but Weiler is also the film’s distributor. And he said that by making an initial short-term commitment to a small distributor and then calling movie houses directly, he managed to self-distribute 150,000 units of his last film, 1998’s The Last Broadcast to 26 countries worldwide.

Other filmmakers are holding up Weiler as an example of how to maintain control of the work, while still getting the films seen.

“Lance is the guy you need to talk to,” says Mary Jordan, the filmmaker behind Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. “With Video On Demand and self-distribution, it’s going to be interesting to see how the studios will fit in.”