What happened to independent film? I’m not talking about that stuff they play at Sundance that is made for at least $5 million and financed on the basis that foreign markets will agree to pay for anything with a celebrity in it, preferably one who’s snagged an Academy Award already. What happened to real independent cinema?
That’s the question Asher Penn, founder of Sex Magazine, is trying to answer with his new online platform, Beta Pictures, which launched today. His idea is to finance and distribute films online for a niche demographic, starting with the built-in audience that already reads Sex.
Penn’s already rounded up a group of filmmakers who all have diverse creative outputs and are making a lot of weird and wonderful stuff. For example, LA-based filmmaker Grant Farladeau, whose movies often feature playful explorations of insanity and low-budget wigs, is releasing his latest work, Baba, as the first film under the Beta Pictures banner. You can watch it online. It’s a bit alt-broish for me, but I’m excited to see the other releases by filmmakers Beta has on their docket, like photographer-artist-curator Maggie Lee and musician/filmmaker Air Pop. More than anything, I’m excited that someone is experimenting with a way to get more interesting films made and seen by more people.