If you want anyone to watch your first independent movie better make
sure it's a genre movie! An oft quoted and very sound piece of advice from the
king of independent movies, Roger Corman.
Fans of Screen Edge will already have realised that we have taken these wise
words on board. Releasing several low budget American horror movies has helped
establish Screen Edge as probably the coolest video label in the world.
Why has Screen Edge followed this tack? Well, it would appear that, both the
mainstream movie press and the majority of the viewing public have difficulty
understanding non-genre, micro-budget movies. Cash restrictions necessitate an
extremely stylised approach towards production, hence the movies are generally
perceived by critics as 'art-house'; which, of course, they're not. These movies,
therefore, alienate not only the press but also 'art-house' audiences. In the
resulting confusion the average viewer is simply 'turned-off'.
The 'New Wave American Horror' titles we have released so far (including Addicted
To Murder, Shatter Dead, The Dead Next Door) overcome this confusion. The mainstream
movie media ignores them. They are, after all, just horror movies and as a result
the public 'gets-them'. And, with the world being starved of scary movies for
the last decade, it's great timing for a burgeoning scene in the States, which
is producing some of the best horror stuff since the late seventies and early
Screen Edge is still looking for low budget British movies to release, but
they are proving few and far between. Mind you, its not surprising. The incentives
for street level film makers in the UK, such as a marketplace or even screening
possibilities, are virtually nonexistent, outside the already overstretched Raindance
and Edinburgh Festivals. Add to this the BBFC,s extortionate rates for certification
(without which it is illegal to even sell copies to your mates) and the futility
of independent film making in Britain becomes all too apparent. In short - getting
your 'two years in the making, no budget, zombie extravaganza' into distribution
is not financially viable. And let's be honest, we all have to survive.
good news is that with the millennium in view and myriad radical innovations on
the horizon, the whole way in which the home entertainment industry operates demands
reassessment. That hot-bed of nepotism, the BFI has already rendered itself virtually
irrelevant through a systematic lack of perception. Out dated institutions like
the BBFC are fast becoming impracticable.
Responsibility towards public viewing habits must be allowed to revert to
the adult individual. The reality is - consumers will continue operating in pretty
much they same way they always have done, regardless. If 'Average Joe' wants it,
he'll get hold of it despite any laws invented to stop him. But, more importantly,
when he does find something he considers unsuitable or offensive... he'll simply
switch it off. The real choice, after all, has always been his. No change there
Now finish that script and load your camcorder. Just get out there and beat
Richard J King. April 1997