From the prestige films of Cagney Productions to recent, ultra-low budget cult hits, such as Clerks and The Blair Witch Project, American independent cinema has produced some of the most distinctive films ever made. This comprehensive introduction draws on key films, filmmakers, and film companies from the early twentieth century to the present to examine the factors that shaped this vital and evolving mode of filmmaking.
Specifically, it explores the complex and dynamic relations between independent and mainstream Hollywood cinema, showing how institutional, industrial, and economic changes in the latter have shaped and informed the former. Ordered chronologically, the book begins with Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era (examining both top-rank and low-end film production), moves to the 1950s and 1960s (discussing both the adoption of independent filmmaking as the main method of production as well as exploitation filmmaking), and finishes with contemporary American independent cinema (exploring areas such as the New Hollywood, the rise of mini-major and major independent companies and the institutionalization of independent cinema in the 1990s). Each chapter includes case studies which focus on specific films, filmmakers, and production and distribution companies.