Someone Hasn't Heard of 'Napoleon Dynamite'.,.

In this week's Arts & Leisure section, Adam Leipzig entertainingly/depressingly lays out the beyond-improbable odds of 1) having a successful independent film, and 2) getting your script made into a big studio hit.

Not that I would EVER question the brilliance of the editors who this week afforded me the opportunity to speak with Pamela Anderson, but I worry that if Leipzig's arguments go unchallenged, too many doctors, dentists, and uncles will be dissuaded from investing in surefire hit films, and then where would our culture be? We'd only have 2,000 features trying to get into Sundance.

That said, while I could dig up data on indie films and indie scripts and indie budgets and indie returns on investment, I'm kinda wiped out right now. Leipzig's numbers are empirically correct, but don't reflect even the basic risk-mitigating, probability-enhancing factors that should accompany a deserving film.

What are the odds for films that were developed in the Sundance Institute writer's workshop? How about for movies featuring a recognizable actor? Or the distribution pickup rate of films shown at IFC Market? Or of films by former IFC volunteers, even? How many $5 million films make back their investment? How many $100,000 films? How many films were self-distributed, and at what budget level does self-distribution start (or stop) looking viable?

The Sundance Odds Get Even Longer [NYT]

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: January 15, 2005.

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