Of course probably the most obvious approach to the problem of figuring out who holds the power in what determines the status of a film as a work of art is those who claim to be creators of the art. In Sherry Ortner’s acticle Against Hollywood, in which Ortner analyses Q & As with various film makers, there is are patterns in the language used which are telling of the indie film maker’s claim to their position against the Hollywood film. The discourse of indie vs. studio among film makers involves a lot of contempt for those who are outside of the community, and high standards for what makes one involved in the community. For example, there is a lot of contempt for the idea of selling out to Hollywood, and those directors which have worked on both independent and studio projects show preference for the experience of indie film making. The goal in independent film making, from this perspective, is to portray truth in film, which according to these film makers, cannot be achieved most fully when working under the narrative and production constraints of the mainstream industry.
There is a distaste for things which inhibit this attempt at portrayal of truth. Things which inhibit this goal include the use of traditional narrative structures, pandering to the desires of the the audience, conclusive (though not necessarily happy) endings, and decision making which places value on the potential for profit. This is the nature of defining oneself as “indie” – it’s about being against what Hollywood, as a structure and as a labelling term, stands for. Thus, the filmmakers grant a lot of power to themselves: there is a discourse which invokes imagery of thievery, the indie filmmaker steals the fire from the gods that are hollywood in order to present truth. This self-oriented source of power is evident in the name of the genre, too – “independent”, as in, the power isn’t coming from any source but the film itself. The film maker really doesn’t WANT to give the audience any power – in fact they want the audience to be totally helpless to what’s happening onscreen. They want them to experience discomfort. This still gives the audience some level of power though and acknowledges that there is some dependence on their opinion, even if the opinion is negative; if this were not the case, truth could not be demonstrated.