–By Cecily Knobler–
Nowadays if you’ve so much as heard of a filmmaker, they’re doing something right. With the cost of making movies down and so many digital avenues available to “spread the word” or even post your work (I’m looking at you, Youtube), it’s an easier world for artists to reach a fan-base.
That said, major studios still hold the key when it comes to getting films marketed and released to a wide audience. But there are plenty of “smaller” filmmakers who have figured out a way to get movies distributed, albeit in a more limited sense. Here’s a list of a few of those filmmakers you should keep your eye on:
1. Noah Baumbach
Even with his ability to cast A-list celebrities and get small distribution from major motion picture studios, Baumbach is still considered an independent filmmaker – and one of the best. A more “relatable” Woody Allen, I’d say if I only got five words to describe his style!
My favorite of his most recent films is While We’re Young, starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts and Adam Driver. And if you want to go back a few years, check out The Squid and the Whale, starring Jeff Daniels and a very young Jesse Eisenberg, before his Mark Zuckerberg-playing days. Both worth a watch!
2. Nicole Holofcener
One of my all-time favorite indie directors, Nicole has an incredible knack for writing strong, funny, smart female characters (and then directing with a light, witty hand.) Her muse has seemingly been Catherine Keener and what a great muse she is/was! (Check out Walking and Talking, Lovely and Amazing and the lesser-known Please Give, three of my all-time favorite movies from any director!)
More recently, Holofcener brought us the delightful (and Oscar nominated) Enough Said, starring Julia Louis-Dryfus and James Gandolfini in one of his last and most vulnerable roles.
3. Michel Gondry
While Michel isn’t always considered “indie” (he did after all direct the blockbuster flop, The Green Hornet,) he’s still a director more people should be talking about. Having paired up with the melancholy yet brilliant writer Charlie Kaufman, Michel brought warmth to one of the best films in 20 years, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Gondry has such a sweet, playful spirit about him. A quirky, French loveliness that glows through in all of his films.
The Science of Sleep is also worth noting in addition to Gondry’s directorial episode of the genius television show Flight of the Conchords, (which should be watched in its entirety.)
4. Sofia Coppola
Who says nepotism is dead? But her relation to Francis Ford Coppola didn’t make her any less talented (except as an actress in Godfather 3, in which she was terrible.) As a director, she’s actually quite swell.
My favorite of her films (and again one of my all-time favorites) is Lost in Translation, a slow and beautiful meditation on age, life, celebrity and love. Bill Murray is outstanding and this is probably the most vulnerable I’ve seen Scarlet Johansson.
5. Lisa Cholodenko
And just to round this out, let’s throw another talented woman on the list! Lisa has been steadily been making excellent indie films for decades, with much her of work centering around LBGT issues. I think her best work is The Kids are Alright, (co-starring Mark Ruffalo, Annette Benning and Julianne Moore)
Also worth checking out is High Art (starring Ally Sheedy!) and Christian Bale in Laurel Canyon.