Texas filmmaker Greg Carter, a speaker at the Black Images in the Media Symposium and Arts Festival at the University of Houston, thinks it's a great time to be an independent filmmaker. Although exactly what qualifies as an independent film is up for debate.
"If you look at the ten films nominated for Best Picture [at the Academy Awards], seven of those were independent films," Carter tells Art Attack. "They were mainstream independent films, but they were independent films."
The award winning Black Swan, labeled an independent film, was made for about $50 million. "Independent, my ass," laughs Carter. "When you go to Sundance and you see a movie, and they tell you it's a $20 million independent film ... are you kidding me?" he laughs.
"Seriously. I could make 40 movies with that money. How can it be an independent film for $20 million? That's a studio movie made by some rich people who just didn't bother to make a studio."
Carter takes the uneven playing field indie filmmakers face today in stride. "This is just the reality of the world today and if you want to make independent films, this is what you go through," he says.
Money alone, Carter contends, doesn't insure a good film. "Money can't make you a storyteller. I've seen plenty of bad films that were made for millions of dollars. At the end of the day, it's about the story you can put on the screen. And that's more about talent and persistance and caring about what you do, than about a budget. Having money will never make your bad movie better."
Watch the trailer for Greg Carter's film Gangland Love Story, one of the films screening at the Black Images in the Media Arts Festival. Gangland Love Story was filmed in Houston's 5th Ward.
The Black Images in the Media Arts Festival continues through tomorrow. For information, visit www.uh.edu.aas.