Last month I asked this question, and now I am asking it again: Who can really help Indie Film?
This month's answer is the actors whom have benefited so much by indie film -- which is not to say that the Indiewoodland has not benefited even more by these actors' presence. It has. But why were there so many super talented actors in the indie sphere ten years ago, and now the list of "names" seems so depleted or recycled?
We need to come up with ways to promote the work of "undiscovered" actors. There is probably no better judge of talent than the acting community itself. Similarly there is no better promotional magnet and promotional bullhorn than the acting community itself.
I am completely confident that there are as many good actors emerging now as there were back ten years ago, but there is a problem when even working filmmakers like myself don't know the new folk. I have always felt that one of the real draws of indie film was the discovery of new talent, both behind and before the camera. When we are not as familiar with an actor, it is easier to see them as the character they are portraying than the star they may later turn out to be. But the joy of discovery would lead you to think that audiences would be served a virtual parade of new faces, yet that parade has not materialized as of late.
Check out what ten years ago had to offer out of NYC alone: Steve Buscemi, Kevin Corrigan, Billy Crudup, Hope Davis, Rosario Dawson, Vince D'Ornofrio, Martin Donovan, Edie Falco, Paul Giamatti, Peter Green, Jared Harris, Phillip S. Hoffman, Michael Imperolli, John Leguizimo, Laura Linney, Julianne Moore, Rosie Perez, Parker Posey, Tim Robbins, Sam Rockwell, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schrieber, Campbell Scott, Chloe Sevigny, John Turtoro, Jeffrey Wright.
These are just the actors I thought of off the top of my head. And I only put the ones that popped first (to my knowledge) in Indie film, not Hollywood, and those that really came of age in the last decade or decade and a half. And were from NYC. I know I have left a bunch off and I apologize for the slight. Remind me who they were and I won't do it again (or I will at least try not to).
But who represents the here and now? It's hard to have the same legnthy list: Jessica Chastain, Mark Duplass, Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Gosling, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie, Michelle Williams.
And I had to cheat to get to seven. Some aren't really even NYC anymore. Or ever were. And some have been working a long time already, not just emerging now. If I take it back ten years or so I can add Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola, and Peter Sarsgaard.
I think I had twenty seven on the old school list. That's pretty much a romp in any book: 27 to 7 (or maybe 11) Whassamattawiddis? Surely it can be fixed. I want to know who the new school is. Where can we find them? How can we make sure they get the good parts that launch them?
I think it is going to start with the old school really stumping for the new school. Not to put pressure on them, but it's time. The IFP's Gotham Awards has a Breakthrough Performance category, but why doesn't SAG? How come actors don't suggest other actors when they get cast (okay some do)? I don't think it is bad form; we need to know who will make all of our work really shine. How come there isn't some sort of organization that promotes the new wave?Damn, it doesn't even have to be organized; it can be personalized. The whole industry would benefit from this, even Hollywood. Here's hoping...