One day, I decided to be adventurous and trek into uncharted territory; I watched a Netflix movie without researching it. Granted, the movie in question had a 5 star suggestion for my tastes, but in principle, I was being very brave. As I sunk into my chair, I prepared myself for what was inevitably going to be a forgettable indie movie. From the cover, I could see that the film starred Jared Leto, and involved a cast of forgettables. Seeing as I had never heard of the film before the title seemed appropriate: Mr. Nobody. The movie focused on the importance of choice in the world, and the relevancy of any and every decision. The movie beautifully shot and thought out, making it a fantastic piece that I ended up loving.
Of my twenty favorite movies, fourteen of them are films that were produced by independent companies. It’s not that big budget films can’t be amazing, and it’s not that every independent movie is amazing. Rather, the focus lies in the framing. Big budget films are a matter of probability. For every unexpected success in the box office, there are four flops. Most films made by companies like 20th Century Fox and Paramount are guaranteed cash cows. People joke that Hollywood hasn’t come up with anything profitable in years, but the fact is, movies are money. Even new movies are based on profitable old formulas to ensure that producers will make the allotted revenue. But, as this is a topic that my fellow collaborators have done already, I don’t want to drone on about the how and why of independent movies. Instead, I want to share my reasons for loving these fascinating, if slightly esoteric films.
People watch films for escapism. Films seek to offer us an opportunity to flee from the banalities of life, but how often do movies seek to change that banality within the larger context of our lives? The power within an independent film lies within the ability to change a person’s perspective. The movies that affect me the most always hit on one emotion: wonder. While joy, anger, and sorrow will last for the rest of the day, wonder will haunt me for months. After two months, I still feel that Mr. Nobody is hanging on the edge of my consciousness, subtly shaping the way I act. Mainstream films have realized the profit in other emotions, preying on romance, sorrow, and thrill, but rarely on wonder.
My love of independent films isn’t a sign of snobbery, but rather an appreciation of sincerity: sincerity of the thought that goes into movies, and sincerity of emotion within the script. The care and craft that goes into the best independent movies is extraordinary. And though the movie is created long before the viewer sees it, the decision to appreciate wonder belongs to the viewer alone.