What does Indie film mean to Connor Heckler and me?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Hollywood is Dead.

A short film written and directed by Zach Toll and Connor Heckler.

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3 Defining Aspects of Indie Film (As Compared to Hollywood Film)

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

It’s almost time for the Sundance Film Festival. Know what that means? Lots and lots of those groovy “independent” movies all the kids are talking about! But if you’re reading up on indie films, you may find yourself wondering just what makes one particular film “independent.” Independent from what exactly? Are some movies dependent on something? And what is that thing? Aren’t we all dependent on everything else around us, coexisting symbiotically in this big, beautiful organism we call Earth, unless, of course, you’re the subject of Kelly Clarkson’s classic song, Miss Independent?

Never thought Id see that pop-culture reference again.

Never thought you'd see that reference again.

Maybe. I don’t have all the answers. You could try asking that guy Jeeves, but my little Kelly Clarkson reference was still relevant the last time anyone went to that site. (more…)

What Is Independent Film? Go Ask Ellen Page

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
Me and my friends back in highschool, still waiting on that check from Sony.

Me and my friends back in highschool, still waiting on that check from Sony.

The cover of Michael Newman’s text on independent film “Indie: An American Film Culture” bears a picture of perhaps the most recognizable character from “indie” films in recent years: Juno MacGuff, played by Ellen Page, from the film “Juno.”

I saw the film during one of its first five premieres at the Austin Film Festival in 2007 and, although I enjoyed it, immediately wondered why it was being shown. The 2007 smash hit has helped me decide what truly defines a movie as being “independent” because frankly, the term is thrown around just as loosely as the word “unique.” Is any movie actually free of outside financial and content related pressures and contrains? Probably just as often as anything in the world is actually one of a kind and literally unique. Not very often.


My Festival Experience

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Although it is difficult to sum up an experience that has been the best so far in my life, I can say the Sundance Film Festival has inspired me.  I now know what I want to do with the rest of my life.  I want to go back to Sundance someday with films that I write and direct.  The best thing about this festival had to the people of Park City who were in most situations the kindest and most down to earth that I have experienced.  The films I had the opportunity to see (that I would not have otherwise have the chance to) were amazing.  Hanging out with my fellow reporters and Sundance classmates was the high point.  I feel like I gained friendships that I will treasure for the rest of my life.  Lessons learned from Sundance include realizing that it takes a great amount of dedication, hard work and a group of people who want to do something that can be worthy of festivals like Slamdance and Sundance.  You have to go after your dream and not let anything stand in your way.  Another lesson learned is that Sundance as compared to Slamdance is more corporate and heavily sponsored and covered by the press.  Slamdance on the other hand is what Sundance was at the beginning.  It is more intimate, more relaxed and does not have the hoopla surrounding it.  It focuses on the art and access to the filmmakers is much greater at Slamdance.

My favorite film at Sundance is a tie between “Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel” and “Beats, Rhymes and Life:  The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.:   Corman’s World is a fascinating and entertaining look at the Hollywood producer, Roger Corman.  His career helped launched many well known artists working today including Jack Nicholson and director Jonathon Demme.  “Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest,” is an awesomely entertaining look at a hip hop group that simply put, rocks.  The film I liked least at the festival was a foreign film, “All Your Dead Ones.”  This was an utterly boring and not subtle attempt to expose the corrupt and passing-the-buck nature of Colombian politics. It also features to meaningless sex scenes which I would not begin to explain or describe.

A list of the films I saw include: Hobo With a Shotgun–an ultra violent grindhouse adventure.

I Saw the Devil–another ultra violent and fascinating Korean film about revenge.

Take Shelter–a moody and ultimately unsatisfying thriller.

Gun Hill Road– a powerful and moving family drama set in the Bronx.

Catechism Cataclysm–a bizarre film about a priest’s misadventures and the nature of God.

Last Fast Ride–a compelling documentary about a little known punk rock musician who headed the group called the Insaints.

Bellflower–An intriguing and unusual love story set in California.

A Few Days of Respite–a quiet and cute foreign film featuring two gay men who seek shelter in Iran.

Ticket To Paradise–a two thumbs down effort about teens trying to escape their harsh existence in early 1990s Cuba.

Super Heroes–this is a Slamdance film, very entertaining film about real life super heroes.

CoDependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same–a funny, engaging tale about a lesbian seeking love in New York.

End of Sundance

Sunday, January 30th, 2011
View of Main Street

View of Main Street

It is the end of Sundance for us: technically the festival still has another day but we’re leaving in the afternoon so we will be missing out. Now that it’s over for me I suppose I should write a reaction to the time I spent here and all that I experienced. What an experience. Aside from just being able to attend Sundance, I got to attend Sundance for course credit! How awesome is that? Super awesome. (more…)

The Green Wave Question and Answer

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

After most movies at Sundance there’s a ten to twenty minute question and answer session with the director. I filmed the Q&A for The Green Wave. Director Ali Samadi Ahadi is joined by some of his crew as he answers questions from the audience. Enjoy.

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What is Independent film?

Monday, January 17th, 2011

When looking for the answers to what independent film is, you look to other people or books. Yet sometimes the answer is right there in front of you.

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