How indie movies happen

Crew members set up a camera for the shoot in Los Angeles

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis In Hollywood, it's the time of year producers are talking about lasting impressions. And it seems like they're putting their best foot forward with some indie flicks that are sure
to get some attention. We're joined this morning by Michael Speier, executive editor of Variety. Michael, here we are in the middle of a pretty important time for moviemakers. What's out there right now?

Michael Speier: Well, it's funny, because it's the time of year when you have huge movies, but it's really the time for what they call prestige movies in the industry. Things like "Revolution Road" and "Doubt." And movies that rely on critics' praise and hugs and kisses. They open small and then they get bigger and bigger, and then by the time the awards come around, they're name movies and people recognize them.

Chiotakis: They sound so warm and fuzzy, though.

Speier: Always.

Chiotakis: What about these movies that obviously are reliant on independent financing, and these are movies that are usually award winners, right?

Speier: Absolutely. And boy, the indie film world has changed so many times in the past few years. At first, it was really indie kind of grassroots movies. And then the studios realized that you can make money on them, so they created indie units -- something like Paramount Vantage would be part of Paramount, something like Fox Searchlight would be part of Fox. But even they're having problems now, because basically asking for money is harder than ever now.

Chiotakis: And the bottom line, of course, is that the recession is affecting everything. You know, we talk about movies being recession-proof, right?

Speier: Yeah, they really are. I mean, a movie is, you know, $10, $11 on average. So the average person still goes to the movies. In fact, this was a record year, and we're looking ahead to 2009, it could be an even bigger year. The problem is these movies are part of conglomerates. A perfect example is Time-Warner. They have Warner Brothers, which if those movies do well -- like The Dark Knight, one of the biggest movies of all time -- good for them. The problem is, they have other parts of their conglomerate that need to do well, and if they don't do well, that kind of offsets the success of the movie business.

Chiotakis: Lots of big things to talk about in 2009. Michael Speier, executive editor of Variety. Thanks for being with us, happy new year!

Speier: You, too.

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