As more and more indie films enter production, less of them have a chance of being reviewed, writes Gregg Goldstein in today’s Hollywood Reporter. There simply aren’t enough critics to do the job.
In other words, the same access to do-it-yourself technology that’s enabling aspiring filmmakers is cutting the number of paid newspaper subscribers and, consequently, the number of journalists (especially critics). On the one hand, small-time directors can feel more empowered than ever: finishing a film or a TV pilot means little more than splicing the contents of your digital camera together with affordable editing software and uploading the fruits of your labor to an online platform.However, even if your project secures a distributor, getting the overstimulated public to actually notice it might be more challenging. Not only are there more films (530 indie films opened in 2007, Goldstein reports), but there are fewer critics to give your masterpiece the thumbs up.
It comes as no surprise that the state of the newspaper industry is depressing. The annual State of the News Media report states that the industry lost 7 percent of its total newsroom staff in 2007. Circulation of dailies fell 2.5 percent, and ad revenue another7 percent. The demand for critics, consequently, isn’t shattering.
While critics are certainly taking advantage of online mediums, their work isn’t yet as likely to draw in audiences than a review in one’s local Friday paper.
“We’re not at a pointwhere Internet writers have the credibility of established media with proven records and editors,” ThinkFilm’s Mark Urman told Goldstein.
Goldstein points out that when Oscar-winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, opened in January, no review appeared in New York’s major papers.
How much a reviewer’s verdict matters to an average moviegoer is questionable. But when a shrinking fraction of a growing pool of films is being covered in the news, it’s no wonder that the larger public is showing little interest in experimental fare.
Off-Off Broadway producers have been complaining about this for years. In case you haven’t noticed, hardly any publication is writing about theater unless it stars Claire Danes or Patrick Stewart.