Hal Hartley on independent movies in the digital age


In an interview with Emily Buder on on the site, No Film School, indie filmmaking pioneer Hal Hartley spoke frankly about the state of independent film in the 21st century. Surprisingly not railing against the present state of the industry, he had this to say:

From the beginning of cinema, models of production and distribution have changed almost every 10 years. I mean, filmmakers thought the end of the world was happening when sound was invented because there had been this whole silent movie thing, which made a lot of people millionaires and certainly famous. And then sound came along and this whole silent thing just fell off the edge of the earth. I remember, in my youth, when VHS tape and home video became a reality, everybody thought, “Oh my God, movies are finished.” But it didn’t really happen.

Things change. The internet and computers changed everything. As I continue to make work, I’m just trying to adjust my creative and business aims to this technological reality that keeps changing.

The interview also allowed Hartley to promote a Kickstarter campaign (now ended) to fund an HD restored, handsomely presented box-set of his Henry Fool trilogy (some of you might recall he made indie filmmaking waves by successfully funding the third in the trilogy, Ned Rifle, through Kickstarter). Since this was successful, Hartley will do the same with other movies in his catalog. As he reported in an update to his backers, “Reaching my existing audience as well as expanding that audience—reaching new audiences directly—that’s the aim. And with the success of this Kickstarter campaign I think we can lay the foundations for a small but effective business that will look after and distribute my films going forward.”

Much like his 1989 Sundance alum, Steven Soderbergh, who has been rolling and adapting with the times, Hartley seems to be conscious of the effort (and that is key) to utilize new technologies to their advantage; to stay creatively independent.

Side note: Hartley’s wife is actress Nikaido Miho who starred in the adaptation of Murakami Ryu’s Tokyo Decadence as well as Hartley’s own Kimono, Chain, and Henry Fool.