Kevin Smith faces protests as he unleashes "Indie 2.0"

Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:22am EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Film director Kevin Smith has unveiled a plan to self-release his new "Red State" at the Sundance Film Festival, after facing down protesters that brought him publicity money can't buy.

Invoking the name of movie kingpin Harvey Weinstein and the hockey stick of Wayne Gretzky, Smith said that after 17 years of making movies, he could not think of anything worse than creating a film and turning it over to a studio to market.

The way Smith figured the movie business, after the studio spent tens of millions of dollars on promotion to lure fans to Red State, he and his investors would never see a profit.

So he is going back to a time when moviemakers took films to theaters themselves, one theater at a time. They kept more of the proceeds for themselves and reinvested in more films.

"Indie film isn't dead. It just grew up," he told the Sundance audience following the premiere of Red State. "This is Indie 2.0."

Smith launched his career at Sundance with black-and-white feature "Clerks," made for just $27,575. It was acquired by Weinstein who at the time ran Miramax Films and was considered a master marketer of low-budget movies.

Since then, the business of making low-budget movies outside Hollywood's mainstream studios has changed.

Now, costly stars often are cast in "indie" movies, and production and marketing expenses rise into the millions, which prohibits filmmakers from being able to exercise their voice. As a result, some players think indie filmmakers are a dying breed.   Continued...