Comedy, Dependent Films, and Startups

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about genres of film and how I have never attempted a straight-up comedy before. I’ve done several parodies of other genres, but never just a comedy. I think it’s very hard to Be Funny. He pointed out that it is “definitely is difficult to be funny in a universal way.” Having just posted about being indie it occurred to me that another advantage of being indie is that you don’t have to be funny universally. You can be very funny to a very specific audience. This is the stuff of cult films. So I suppose I am open to the idea of producing a comedy, although I will certainly need writers funnier than me to make that work.

Also shortly after posting about being indie, I came across a post by John August (writer of Go, Big Fish, and Corpse Bride) on his blog about the definition of indie. It’s a good, quick read. My favorite part might be the footnote about labeling conventional films as ‘dependent.’

Another article that I saw shortly after posting, which is at least crosswise related to the topic of being indie, was How a six-month-old startup got bought by Google, by Yi-Wyn Yen. It is about Wayne Crosby and Robby Walker of Zenter and their ideas on how to get acquired by Google. The article mentions some of the advantages of being a small startup and some basic rules for being successful. Among those rules for startups were ‘focus on the user’ and ‘don’t be afraid to tackle the giants.’ I think several of the guidelines are probably equally applicable to indie films.

The last piece of advice I picked up, and I can’t for the life I me remember where, is to trust the audience to figure it out; you don’t need to dumb it down. I have definitely been guilty of this before. I have directed films that held the audience’s hand each step of the way because I was afraid they wouldn’t follow every detail or worse yet, they would question. I recognize, however, that some of my favorite cinematic sequences leave a good deal up to the viewer to decipher. Film is art, not debate. There is room for interpretation. As a viewer, there is also a sort of satisfaction in figuring it out for yourself. And in the end, if I make a film that causes people to question, then perhaps I have achieved something.