Pretty much impossible. This is another film I self- financed. Right now, the budgets are lower and lower. I write a lot of screenplays for other people, and build up a war chest. I don't think there's an independent movie business anymore, there are only a few distributors, and they are not financing the films; they only agree to distribute them. The business part is kind of mythical. But you really can't complain if you're lucky enough to make any movies at all. I actually feel we had a good, lucky run with our timing, I started making movies when there was an indie business, and the timing was good. It's a volatile thing even in the mainstream business.
A piece from a longer Newsday interview with director John Sayles, on his latest effort, the drama/thriller Go For Sisters, which stars LisaGay Hamilton and Yolonda Ross. The above is in response to a question the interviewer asks about the challenges Sayles faces in raising funds for his indie films today.
I had no idea he self-financed Go For Sisters, and thought it was worth mentioning here. The film's budget isn't public information, but I'd assume it was in the 6 figures, or very low 7 figures. He could've certainly taken to crowdfunding services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo as a few of his comrades have done this year, successfully.
But it's a gloomy interview he gave to Newsday; some would say, realistic. He paints a rather discouraging portrait of the business (although he's certainly not been the first to do that and likely won't be the last - Spielberg, Lucas, and Soderbergh have all chimed in this year on what is believed the be an industry in demise) - especially from an independent filmmaker's POV - an indie filmmaker who has been able to exist in both worlds (making smaller films for himself, and occasionally taking writing jobs, polishing up studio scripts).
For example, when asked for advice for young filmmakers, here's what Sayles had to say:
I can't give them ideas on how to make a living at it. Unless you get discovered by the mainstream, I'm not sure there's a living to be made by making indie films anymore.
Check out the full Newsday interview with director Sayles HERE.
Variance Films will release Go For Sisters, in theaters on November 8 in NY, followed by LA on November 15, and additional expansion afterward, with a DVD/digital release in 2014.
A SXSW 2013 selection, the borderland-set film's ethnically diverse cast of character actors includes LisaGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross, Edward James Olmos, Harold Perrineau, Hector Elizondo, Isaiah Washington and Jacob Vargas.
Its full synopsis follows:
The plot concerns two friends, Bernice and Fontayne, who grow up so close they ‘go for sisters’, but then lose track of each other for twenty years. They are reunited when Bernice is assigned as the parole officer for Fontayne, who is fresh out of prison and fighting heroin addiction. But Bernice has an even more threatening problem. With a budget well under a million dollars and four weeks to shoot, this will be a return to the guerilla style of filmmaking familiar to Sayles from his early 80’s films Return of the Secaucus Seven, Lianna and Brother from Another Planet.
I've seen the film and will be publishing a review this week, ahead of its November 8 debut.
This marks the second time Variance and Sayles have teamed up to release a John Sayles film. They previously paired up on the 2011 release of Sayles’ Phillippine-American war film Amigo.
The first full release trailer for Go For Sisters has arrived, and is embedded below: