"SPIKE, MIKE, SLACKERS AND DYKES: A Guided Tour Through a Decade of American Cinema" by John Pierson

"SPIKE, MIKE, SLACKERS AND DYKES: A Guided Tour Through a Decade of American Cinema"

Email this review


An insider's nuts-and-bolts dissection of the gritty machinery of independent film financing and distribution. The modern ""indie"" film movement was born in 1984 with Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise, which proved with the force of a revelation that an important, good-looking movie could be made for less than $100,000. Directors began to compete over who would do the most with the lowest budget, with Richard Rodriguez's $7,000 El Mariachi the bargain-basement winner. But no film that makes it to the local multiplex really costs so little. El Mariachi, for example, required more than $100,000 just for reworking the sound. The lowball budgets were just to get the film ""in the can,"" so that it could be shown to someone like John Pierson. While Pierson has produced a few films, the niche he carved for himself was providing finishing money for films and then, as a ""producer's rep,"" finding a distributor--crucial if a film is ever to have a theatrical run and get proper publicity. Over the last ten years, from Roger and Me to The Thin Blue Line and Slacker, there were few independent films he wasn't somehow involved with. In Hollywood terms the money at stake was chump change--less than might be spent on Demi Moore's entourage--but the 15-plus films Pierson helped were, almost without exception, quirky, provocative, utterly original, and could never have been made in Hollywood. With a swashbuckler's zest, Pierson recounts his various deals and machinations (usefully documented by budgets and deal memos) as he fought to get the filmmakers--and himself--the best possible deal. He also takes pains to note that most independent films are never distributed, languishing instead in the uncinematic darkness of the director's basement--$20,000 worth of celluloid playing only to the plaudits of dust. While the specialized nature of the material will probably limit its general appeal, this book should be required reading for all would-be filmmakers.

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 1996
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Miramax/Hyperion