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How to make indie films less cliched

We adore independent films here—duh—but surely there are ways to guarantee that they don’t fall into various traps that could make them become the very kind of clichéd fare they’re supposed to be a reaction against.

Before that even has a chance of happening, here are my ultra sane suggestions for keeping the indie spirit alive rather than letting it become as hackneyed as some of the see-it-coming-a-mile-away stuff Hollywood spits out on a regular basis.

(1) No sequels, please.

If an indie film ever begat a sequel or a prequel, it would no longer be a work of art—it would be a franchise. A chain store. Sort of like…well, look outside your window and you’ll see what I mean.

(2) No scenes with wacky parents.

I know those bits help explain why the lead character is so wacky, but come on, he or she could be an oddball without the gratuitous help of the folks being quirky too. It’s just too much quirk for my money. And the more you expect it, the less quirky it becomes.

(3) No happy endings.

Why make an indie film if it’s going to go the same holding-hands-in-the-sunlight route as the big budget romances we avoid on airplanes every day? Let’s end with some heartbreak! Lots of it! Maybe a plane crash!

(4) Similarly: No more 90-minute angst fests about a likable nut who’s confused about his/her place in the universe, climaxing with a figurative lightbulb flashing over their head, making everything all so divinely clear. This has no more bearing on real life than Twilight.

(5) No sports scenes.

They’re becoming a bit trite, too many films using them for metaphorical conflict and symbolic struggle. Give us real antagonism, not sweaty stuff with bodysuits and a referee.

(6) No more scenes where you’re not sure if something is really happening or if it’s the figment of the lead character’s paranoid imagination. Spell it out, please. I’m slow school.

(7) Enough with the hand-held camera which jiggles and blurs so much you have a paranoid hallucination that Cassavetes has come back from the dead along with the auteur theory. The new breed usually can’t approach his artistry, so I’d prefer it if they put the camera on a tripod and cleaned the lens with a tissue.

(8) More Greta Gerwig.

There can never be enough Greta. With her natural charm and intelligence, she helps anti-cliché virtually every film she’s in. And after Arthur, indies had better grab her back, for her own good.