Michael Stipe

Musician-producer

On the state of things: The independent scene needs help desperately. I think the whole thing ebbs and flows, as everything does. There are times when smaller, more difficult, less mainstream films have a chance of getting financed and distributed, and maybe right now is not one of those times. I would place a lot of blame on the distribution system. It’s not really set up for smaller films to be seen for a lot of people.

Recipes for change: I think that’s the $64,000 question. It’s easy to gripe; it’s difficult to come up with solutions. Some of my production companies gravitate toward material that’s more difficult to finance and find a distributor for. But we did really well ultimately with “Being John Malkovich.” It wasn’t that high of a budget and we had a pretty stellar cast, a phenomenally promising director and a great script that was really creative. But even so, in the last hours of financing that film, people were reticent about backing it.

There’s a huge chasm between the money side and the creative side of the business. I’m not a curmudgeonly lefty and I hope I don’t come across as such. But there is a business side and in the more ebb times, people go for the safer choices. That’s when you have big blockbusters and not a lot else.

I really don’t know. I like to think that a huge influx of great material and really creative people with bright ideas would be enough for people to say, “There’s something going on and I want to get in on this.” Maybe that’s starting to happen now. I’m seeing more and more material that is fresh and exciting. Is it producable, is it financable in this climate? No. Might it be a year from now? I can only speculate, but I would hope so.

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