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True Independent Film: The Iconographer Returns To The Roots Of Indie Cinema With Filmmaker Andy Mingo

Remember when Indie meant indie?

Do you remember the early days of independent cinema? Those were the days of “Eraserhead” and “Mala Noche” and “Crumb” and “Pi” and “El Mariachi” and “Clerks” and even “Roger and Me”. Remember how exciting it was to see how the dominant mode of production of our time, filmmaking, was put into the hands of a normal person who could live by your side? Or could it even be you?

Remember when ten thousand, maybe twenty if you cleaned your bank account and used up your credit cards and asked all your friends, neighbors and relatives and even people you barely knew but bought drinks for? And it was worth it?

Portland independent filmmaker Andy Mingo wants you to know two things about independent film: first, it is alive and well in Portland, Oregon, and second, there is a difference between the history of independent film, the current corporate takeover of independent film. and what he calls True Independent Film.

Andy Mingo is the director of The Icongrapher, a new independent feature that is being considered on the festival circuits this year. Written, directed and edited by Mingo, The Icongrapher was made on a budget of less than $ 20,000 with local actors who worked for the cheese, wine and lasagna that his wife baked.

Mingo shot the entire movie at locations in Portland, Oregon, from a local liquor store to a beach on the Sandy River, warehouses, car interiors, and strip clubs. The cameras come from grants and equipment loans from the Northwest Film Center. The actors knew each other thanks to local productions, jobs and bars and the passion to do something because you just can’t stop doing it. The music came from people Mingo had known for years. The sound guy had a day job. Almost everyone did.

The Icongrapher’s story has one foot in independent film history and one foot in the territory Mingo calls True Independent Cinema. According to New York Times bestselling author Chelsea Cain, “The Icongrapher is personal, funny and incredibly smart, a little story with big waves that resonates on many levels, from his perfect portrayal of family dynamics to his sociopolitical allegory. … And there’s enough fake blood to keep things interesting. “

The True Independent movie, according to Andy Mingo, still works from scratch and focuses on the small, human story. In addition to “The Icongrapher,” Andy Mingo has written, directed, and produced six short films, which have appeared at various festivals and national screenings, including the Longbaugh Film Festival, the Northwest Film and Video Festival, the Northwest Film Festival. PDX and the Northwest Tracking. – Short Film Magazine V.11. Mingo is a professor of media studies at Clackamas Community College and the author of the novel East of Elko. He also runs Chiasmus Press, one of Portland’s award-winning independent literary publications. And it is on a mission to defend the true independent film.

There used to be an independent movie. Unfortunately, in 2009 “Independent Film” has become yet another branded device for making big money movies sound … Sundance Film Festival winners feature Hollywood actors and big money sponsors . Fox uses his “Searchlight” as a hipster mask. And Warner Independent Pictures? Really? Let’s be honest. The corporatization of independent film has eaten it alive and turned it into a mainstream dazzling thing that consumers with enough money to spend can buy to impress their friends and feel … nervous. True Independent Film, according to Mingo, is both a comeback and a move from the future.

2009 Portland, Oregon, well, we are a petri dish. For example. Gus Van Sant made “Mala Noche” in 1985 for $ 20,000. It gained fame overnight on the festival circuit, and the LA Times named it the best independent film of the year. It took “Drugstore Cowboy” and “My Own Private Idaho” to make the New Line Cinema, and the rest is history. So, by all accounts, Portland should be an incredible breeding ground for more Gus Van Sant, and particularly indie cinema in its prime.

In most cases, it is. Independent filmmakers like filmmakers Andy Mingo and James Westby, documentary makers Brian Lindstrom and Andrew Blubaugh, and experimental filmmakers like Miranda July and Matt Mcormick keep it real by, according to Mingo, creating in the fires of True Independent Film.

It used to be that when people talked about independent publications or independent music or film-art – they were primarily referring to art that subverts their genre. Not only in terms of content and style and mode of production, but also in terms of broadcasting to an audience and the disruption of capital. You could hear the best music in a downtown rat hole, music born from someone’s garage, or from brave children squatting in abandoned houses to practice their licks. You could become the best literature by passing it from hand to hand on the street or in bars or alleys. You could witness the rebirth of cinema at an arthouse for half the price of the Cineplex and then feel baptized instead of covered in butter and chocolate.

But today, even trying to break into the film festival circuit that dot the country means having to compete with company-backed films made by established filmmakers on big budgets with Hollywood actors and distribution to the highest bidder. Films like “The Icongrapher” basically take on the Hollywood studio industry. And there’s no way you can bake enough lasagna to compete with that.

Still, filmmaker Andy Mingo insists that True Independent Film is still being made, and indeed there might be the possibility of something that the corporatization of independent film cannot fully absorb:

Look. Independent filmmakers have not left or stopped what they do. They simply find it harder than ever to be seen, as “indie” has become a market-driven genre. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of great movies coming out of the independent corporate market. But a distinction needs to be made between polished, well-funded products and movies that are made in the true spirit of real independent cinema. I don’t think fewer people should make their own movies. I think more people should do it.

It’s a hopeful feeling right now. True independent filmmakers, like people who can’t help but make music, can’t help but write the closet manifesto, survive in tight-knit communities, grants, and dinners at each other’s homes. So even though we pay close to $ 8 these days to watch a blockbuster or check our mailboxes for Netflix’s next Oscar winner, I secretly hope Mingo is right:

There is no time to despair. In the darkest days of 2009, when things have gone to hell, redefinitions are possible. It may be that there are more forms of art available, rather than fewer. People are sitting in front of Macs. People have more and more access to cameras. With all that money at stake, entire careers grow and fizzle at the speed of light, and movies that don’t gross out sink. True independent films are unsinkable, because they are not tied to anything other than the people who make them.

For Mingo, True Independent Film “is exactly like a Petri dish: things that are unique can grow. Things that ordinary people make have a way of … dangerously thriving.”

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