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When Movie Outlets Become TV Networks, Indie Filmmakers Lose Out

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik December 14, 2011 at 12:25PM

In September, I wrote an article for Indiewire about how Netflix was shutting out smaller independent films from its service, abandoning its indie roots in order to become an even bigger media player. "Is Netflix cutting off its long tail," I also asked on this blog. I consider the story one of my most important reported pieces this year, and its 37 comments suggest it touched a nerve. Since that time, Netflix has only gone further astray, with a further push into original programming arguably at the expense of the wide variety of indie films that one drove a large part of its business. And the company isn't alone.
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In September, I wrote an article for Indiewire about how Netflix was shutting out smaller independent films from its service, abandoning its indie roots in order to become an even bigger media player. "Is Netflix cutting off its long tail," I also asked on this blog. I consider the story one of my most important reported pieces this year, and its 37 comments suggest it touched a nerve. Since that time, Netflix has only gone further astray, with a further push into original programming arguably at the expense of the wide variety of indie films that one drove a large part of its business. And the company isn't alone.

This morning, The Hollywood Reporter writes that Netflix is nearing a deal with Eli Roth to direct and executive produce 13 hour-long episodes of a horror series called "Hemlock Grove." Following other Netflix original projects, such as David Fincher's "House of Cards," Jenji Kohan's "Orange is the New Black" and the resurrection of "Arrested Development," the move is just a greater indication of Netflix's changing priorities, from an exhibitor for the niches to a purveyor of mainstream content, more akin to a FX Network than a movie site. Because TV-type programming, of course, yields a much bigger audience than movies.

The Independent Film Channel is doing the same thing. As this recent AdWeek article notes, the channel is "remaking itself from a sponsorship-supported cable network outlet for indie films into an ad-supported network with a new focus on original prime-time programming"--with shows like "Portlandia" and "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret."

I'm sure this is all great for those appreciative of idiosyncratic TV programming, but it doesn't help indie filmmakers looking for outlets for their work.

This article is related to: Corporate Evils