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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 7, 1999)
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may be the wave of
the future for indie,
Senior staff writer
Editor's note: Today, we present the second in a
week-long series exploring where the arts are
headed in the next century.
As the millennium approaches, and everyone
is in a mad dash toward his or her crystal ball, film
buffs and members of the film industry are anxious
to see what will happen in cinema’s fhture.
Will the chasm between independent and stu
dio film widen, get closer together or do a bit of
both? And what developments in technology will
change film in the 21st century?
Both mainstream and independent films have
provided great moments in the last 100 years, and
a canon of classics has been established for movie
buffs to gush about
There’s Sam playing it again in “Casablanca”;
Orson Welles mouthing the name “Rosebud” in
“Citizen Kane”; Janet Leigh being stabbed while
showering in “Psycho”; Robert De Niro saying,
“You talkin’ to me?” in the mirror in ‘Taxi Driver”;
a horse’s head winding up in die bed of an enemy
of Don Corleone in “The Godfather”; and Spike
Lee throwing a garbage can through the window of
Sal’s Pizzeria in “Do the Right Thing.”
These films are all popular reference points,
images most people are familiar with. And they
were all made with the support of major studio
backing, with the exception of-Do the Right
Thing,” and they all received widespread distribu
But there are other great scenes in other great
films that aren’t as widely known - films made
outside the Hollywood system or Hollywood films
that failed to get major distribution. Everyone has
his or her own under-appreciated or semi-obscure
There’s Frank Sinatra as the recovering heroin
addict and jazz drummer in “The Man With the
Golden Arm”; the opening tracking shot of Orson
Wefles’ ‘Touch of Evil”; Malcolm McDowell gun
ning down the faculty of his private school in
Lindsay Andersonls “If”; Gene Hackman demol
ishing his apartment in “The Conversation”;
Crispin Glover trying to hide his murderous friend
in “River’s Edge”; and Jeremy Irons as insane twin
gynecologists in “Dead Ringers.”
Both mainstream and independent studios
have provided so-bad-they ’re-good treasures such
as “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” any of the
“Godzilla” films and ‘Teen Wolf,” just to name a
Movies, both good and bad, have been integral
parts of our lives from their beginnings. Audiences
were reported fleeing from theaters in terror when
an early silent film of a train was shown. They
thought the train was going to come barreling
through the screen and run than down.
Filmgoers have become a lot more sophisticat
ed since then, but every day, millions of people are
still willing to sit in a darkened theater and suspend
their disbelief for a few hours.
This century has seen the creation of sound and
color in film, the rise of the director as auteur or
author and the increasing
reliance on safe formu- A
huge star salaries
by the major stu
dent films have been
a renesnmg antidote to
aesthetic. Usually, the films
boast smaller budgets, lesser
known actors, unique stories
and a willingness to push
boundaries and bust taboos.
Independent films have
had their ups and downs with
distribution throughout the
years and have often been placed
in an adversarial relationship with
the major studios.
While indie films have often
been seen as David to
Hollywood’s Goliath, both sys
tems have made a lot of good
and bad films. Many indie filips
have made big money in the
1990s, such as “Pulp Fiction,”
“The Piano” and “Clerks,”
thanks in large part to dis- A
tn button bom Miramax,
currently an indie in
name only (it’s owned
by Disney now).
And many former
tem, such as
Gus Van Sant, Richard Linklater and Robert
While Hollywood and the underground are
often philosophically at odds, technological devel
opments may bring mainstream and independent
film closer together in production values aid cost.
Digital cameras are making filmmaking more
accessible. Soon, the cost of both Hollywood and
independent films will come down, and it will be
cheaper and easier for Jane and Joe Blow to pick up
cameras and turn images into art... or money.
In the Lincoln/Omaha area, those with ties to
the film industry are concerned with these issues.
Mele Mason, an Omaha native, works exclu
sively in video. She has shot footage for network
news, ESPN, MTV, “America’s Most Wanted,”
“Entertainment Tonight” and “Inside Edition,”
Director Alexander Payne tapped Mason to
shoot the fake pom video Matthew Broderick’s
character watches in “Election.” Mason also shot a
behind-the-scenes preview of“Election” for MTV
Mason said digital cameras have made film
making cheaper and easier.
“The quality of what you can do with a $5,000
(digital) camera than the video cameras of 15 years
ago that cost $40,000 is so
much more,” she said. “Digital
editing is coming way down in cost. It’s really
brought the cost (of filmmaking) down.”
She said she has some problems with the look
of video but said she thought those problems
would be solved as technology progresses.
“It’s a lot flatter,” she said. “It doesn’t have the
depth of Beta, VHS tape or computer.”
She said die resolution and depth of digital
video has gotten better over the years, but she will
only use her digital camera overseas until the depth
improves. Why overseas?
‘It looks like a home video camera, so there’s
less hassle at customs.”
Dan Ladely, director of the Mary Riepma Ross
Film Theater, said he was optimistic about digital
“It will offer people the capabilities ofmaking
movies,” he said. “It will be really super-cheap to
do that. With the new technology, practically any
body’s going to be able to make a film. I’m really
excited about it I think it’s great that people will
have that capability.”
Digital cameras are much more affordable than
traditional cameras. An online digital camera price
guide, http://www.dcresource.com, said prices
range from $50 to $2,500, but 80 percent are
between $200 and $900, with a median price of
With digitally recorded film, studios will be
able to make and edit films at a cheaper cost, and
theaters will pay less for copies of the film.
Since the films will be on disc instead of the
traditional reels, the films won’t have to be
cleaned up or restored, and copies will be
cheaper and easier to make.
Much like satellite radio stations,
theaters with digital systems will sim
ply pick up digital films from a satel
lite via a transmitter. Projectors and
reel-to-reel tapes will become a thing
of the past.
The Ross Theater will have a
digital projection system when
it moves to its new location.
The date of the move has
n’t been set, but Ladely
said he is hoping for a
2002 opening. The new
theater will have two
screens and will show
independent and foreign
films every night of the
week, instead of the four
— days it shows films now.
“There are video projec
tion systems that are good enough
that they’re fooling people,” he said.
“Reports are that people can’t even tell
Technology will continue to
\ thing is the content of what’s on
ftk the screen.
m What filmmakers will be
mCL taking the medium into the
iuTurer wnai current rums are
worth watching? And how will
the independent and major studios co-exist in the
Gwendolyn Foster, a professor of English and
film studies at the University ofNebraska-Lincoln,
said most of die exciting films will continue to
struggle with poor distribution and unfair competi
tion from Hollywood blockbusters. She said suc
cess stories, such as “The Blair Witch Project,” ■
were largely flukes that wouldn't change the way
Hollywood does business. fr
“I don’t know how much influence ‘Blair
Witch’ will have on Hollywood productions,” she
said “I bet (those in Hollywood) think itls a passing 4
fad I don’t think they feel at all competitive with
truly independent filmmaking because they con- J
trol the means of distribution. When that changes -
if and when, if an equivalent to MP3 in film and
video came about - that would be really exciting.”
Foster said Hollywood has created a film cul- -
ture that celebrates big budgets and big stars.
“We’re soaked in a culture that’s obsessed with
the box office,” she said. “There’s so much empha
sis on budget, money, distribution and marketing.
That’s got to change for the raft of filmmaking
coming down the river.”
She said Hollywood has no respect for the
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Small production company pays actors with beer
By Josh Krauter
Senior staff writer
They are the kind of guys who fin
ish each other’s sentences, make fun of
whoever is speaking at the moment and
laugh heartily at each other’s jokes.
They’re also the kind of guys who
So far, Jared Minary, Steve
Jackman, Chad Haufschild and Matt
King - collectively known as Plainview
Productions - have made two short
comedy films: “The Eternal Struggle”
Eventually, the Lincoln-based quar
tet hopes to make the jump into full
length feature filmmaking, and at least
two members are working on scripts.
The four friends share duties when
making the films, acting as directors,
writers, producers, soundmen, lighting
directors, cameramen and actors.
“We’re really just a bunch of writers
and actors,” Haufschild said.
Haufschild is the unofficial leader
of the group, according to the other
“Chad suffers from too much com
petence,” Jackman said. “We kind of
defer things to Chad, so they get done.”
Haufschild and Jackman met when
they were growing up in South Dakota.
Jackman came to the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln to get his master’s
degree in history, and Haufschild
moved to Lincoln shortly after he ran
out of money while living in Atlanta.
They met Minary, a UNL theater gradu
ate, and Haufschild met King when
both were working at Toys “R” Us.
“We talked about our screenplays,
and we realized we had something in
common,” King said, although he gives
an alternate account of their meeting.
“I’m really their father. It’s a weird
temporal time-travel dung.”
The four friends decided to go for it
and make films. They decided to shoot
short films before attempting to tackle a
feature film, and they bought a video
camera and editing equipment.
“My part in the group had a purpose
at this point because I was the only one
with good credit,” King said.
Plainview’s first film, “The Eternal
Struggle,” is a short comedy about a
man’s struggle with his wallet The four
friends banged out the script and shot
the film in a single weekend on an
extremely low budget.
“It’s a three-person cast for ‘Eternal
Struggle’ if you count the wallet,”
They released die film in August of
1998 and debuted it at the Kountze
Memorial Theater in Mahoney State
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