Is Bringing Back Independent Film?

07/26/2012 10:59 am ET | Updated Sep 25, 2012
  • Joe Belmonte Freelance Marketing and Communications Consultant

The glory days of independent film, at least the kind of independent film that was backed by the Hollywood studio system, is well behind us. Studios known for developing great "independent work" such as Miramax, Castle Rock, Fox Searchlight, Focus Features and so many others have either been absorbed by larger studios or disbanded all together. The result is an era of franchise and tent pole films. These movies are developed with the knowledge that a pre-existing audience already exists, whether it is from a book series (Harry Potter, Hunger Games), an established action hero (Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne), or a comic book hero (Spiderman, Avengers).

Now there's a new website about that takes part in the development of independent films and lets the public participate in the process. was established with the premise that talent identification -- specifically in the world of "independent film" -- should be facilitated and encouraged by a larger audience than the insular Hollywood studio system of the past. The idea of funding and assisting in producing can also be absorbed by a more general population through the recent addition of crowdfunding to the site. was built by a former advertising and marketing executive at PepsiCo, Lauren Williams, with the idea that the public can have a voice in the production process early on to help determine which films have a viable audience. The concept allows potential storytellers and filmmakers to submit scripts, along with a trailer or image, which can be uploaded to the MovieHatch site and then get voted by the "Public Producers™" who are really you and me. We, the public, can view as many trailers as we like and cast votes, or ratings, on how likely we would want to see this film made. is also more than a site to vote for film concepts. Over time, Ms. Williams has built on the idea to create a strong offering for the talent, the people involved in creating the stories and delivering the film. A community has evolved that includes not only the "Public Producers," but also a rather elegant group of Hollywood insiders who work as competition judges and potential producing partners. The site, and the community built around the site, helps publicize the films in contention and competition. It also provides insight in the moviemaking process through a series of interviews and profiles called MovieHatch Cool Conversations™. There is also a rather extensive and useful knowledge base of pitching tips and advice from some of Hollywood's most credible insiders. What Ms. Williams has done here is an attempt to democratize the process of filmmaking and is evening out the playing field.

Within the past few months, has added a component that leverages all the recent interest in crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. The site has become a place that enables potential film makers to seek funding for their projects and currently there are seven films on the website doing just that. What better way to see that a story gets told than by going on to the site and backing it yourself. This is the ultimate opportunity to truly participate in the industry as a Public Producer. The filmmakers themselves have promised pretty interesting "swag" for Public Producers based on the level of financial support. Projects as varied as "Hard Promises" a film in development that tells the true story of Allan Haber, a former mobster/heroin addict/convicted criminal that worked the system and beat the odds by becoming a U.S. capital crimes attorney. Or, "Singlet", a delightful comedy starring renowned wrestler Kurt Angle, about a former Olympic boxer making a comeback as a competitive weightlifter. A documentary that illuminates aspects of longevity with renowned scientists called "Long for this World" is another fascinating project. It's worth checking out the site and getting involved.

It's a site for anyone and everyone who is interested in the movie industry and would like to participate and learn the filmmaking process. What sets this apart from most other sites is the amount of support, knowledge, and insight available from credible industry insiders.