Scott at the Filmmaker Magazine blog tipped me off to Range Life, Todd Sklar’s indie film roadshow, which is delivering four independent films to over twenty cities across the United States. As Karina points out, the name of the film series alludes to the 1994 Pavement song, “Range Life,” which addresses the challenges on maintaining indie cred while bigger bands get all of the attention. The tour, which is being documented via a video tour diary and filmmaker blogs, deliberately challenges some of the conventional wisdom of inie film distribution.
Instead of using a platfrom release starting in New York or Los Angeles, Sklar and his hardy band of filmmaking tour mates are taking the film to cities and college towns mostly in the midwest and along the Pacific coast. It’s an interesting strategy, and Sklar’s tour diary suggests a energetic and witty style that would seem to work well in attracting the collegiate and “post graduate hipster” audience that the filmmakers are seeking (I guess I fall into the latter category, although I rarely get to sleep in anymore). Sklar’s remarks in the interview do raise an interesting point about the role of festivals in promoting films, in that focusing solely on festivals may limit a film’s audience, although in the few festivals I’ve attended, I’ve actually had the opposite experience of being pleasantly surprised at the diversity of people who seem invested in seeing independent films and documentaries wherever they can find them.
As Karina adds, there are still a lot of questions about how these new distribution and promotional models can work. I think it is worth asking, however, whether the binary oppoition between “indie rock” web cred and affirmation in the pages of The New York Times (or Village Voice, or whatever New York-based taste-making mag one might choose) holds up. Obviously, these magazines can’t review everything, especially with fewer professional critics working the beat, but I think there is some risk in defining indie too narrowly. No matter what, I think it is the experimentation, the attempt to imagine new forms of promotion and distribution, that matters here.