I have trouble with labels. I have trouble with people who try to use labels. I have trouble with the things that are labeled. I have trouble with distinguishing what is a label in the first place. I just plain think that labels are trouble. Especially when they’re reductive and don’t accurately represent the things they are attached to by labelers, which in my opinion, is usually the case. I understand that as a culture, part of developing opinions, interpretations and criticism for art  is a need to categorize things and make judgments about what they are or where they fit into the scheme of things, both individually and relationally. But that doesn’t mean that its true, or real, or anything.
To relate this rather long preamble with our class material, I feel the need to discuss MYMF, and my initial impressions of it. First of all, I think that it is an important book.  American cinema and Hollywood screenwriting are well established and perpetuated, and the format for telling a visual story has become a formula that is written, taught, and re-written by people like Mckee and our very own Don Mitchell. The importance of this foundational understanding of how stories have been told in the visual medium is not to be taken lightly. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But why not say, if the records not broken but its on repeat and its driving you crazy, write your own song. That also doesn’t mean you should go about smashing up all your records. Their perfectly good and beautiful, they just get boring after a while. Just because everybody does things one way, it doesn’t mean that way is perfect. Ok, thats enough extended metaphors for one post. The point is, artistic rules are usually made because they’ve been proven to work, and they’re helpful, or they provide some kind of structure. They’re also made to be broken. 
Every type of art has its own history, its own traditions. Film is unique in that its so young – so new, a mere fetus compared with painting or novel writing. And yet, people already have steadfast conceptions of the right and wrong way to create visual story. There will always be the standard and the deviations from that, and that is certainly true of film. But what makes a movie truly “different”? What is it, really, that distinguishes what Murphy calls “independent” cinema? Clearly, the word “Hollywood” cinema encapsulates a wide variety of films as diverse as this category indicates, but it is important to speak about specifics when it comes to distinguishing between the two. Murphy discusses several different narrative techniques which are either employed or ignored as specific to “independent” cinema. 
First, Murphy discusses the problematic protagonist. He says that not every protagonist has to have an goal, that there is room for ambivalence, boredom, and absurdity in independent film protagonists that could never be true for protagonists of hollywood films. But many independent films do employ techniques of goal driven protagonists, as in the brothers quest for their father in Simple Men
Second, he tackles plot, arguing that the multi-plot structure of many independent films runs counter to the classic three-act structure of mainstream movies. The foundation of the modern multi-plot structure in literature can be found in Shakespeare and English playwrights in the 18th century, who broke away from the focus on a single character and their story. If thats considered to be independent in cinema, its difficult to reconcile its foundational nature in storytelling in the English language, in a somewhat visual medium (wouldn’t you consider plays a form of visual storytelling?)
Murphy goes on to tackle temporal structures in which time and space are used in challenging ways, often causing changes in audience perception of the story. Time and space become less “realistic” and are intentionally used and manipulated as formal elements of  the story structure. To some extent this is true of all movies, having to condense time by making visual associations or using devices, as in Lawrence of Arabia to establish the passage of long periods of time. 
Finally, Murphy approaches non-causal structures in which dreams or character’s interior life play a large part in the visual story. The world of the absurd or the hypothetical can rule reality. But isn’t this also employed in Hollywood films, such as The Wizard of Oz
My point here is not to say that Murphy is merely re-appropriating various techniques, or to say that his examples are not valid instances of deviation from classical screenwriting practices – but rather, to point out that his spectrum of “art cinema” to “Hollywood” is a very broad one, and encompasses alot of different kinds of art that I don’t feel can be easily labeled and lumped together. 
I think that often, the label of “independent” can be deceiving. In a movie like Juno, or Little Miss Sunshine which are extremely popular and hailed as quirky, independent movies, are actually quite traditional in their narrative structure and techniques. The style in which they are made, however, connotes a popularized and somewhat commodified aesthetic that provide us with pretty conventional stories packaged in indie razmatazz. This is what I consider having that deliciously easy to swallow structure while maintaining some kind of false “indie” cred. 
I know I’m rambling a bit, but its hard for me to explain completely clearly. I think that its impossible to write a book about how to make an independent screenplay, because the point is that there is no “way”, no established structure, just alot of individuals and their particular forms of expression. Murphy’s book is useful in the sense that it evaluates examples of movies that challenge the status quo, and how, and why etc. But the second you try to label and confine broken rules to rules about how to break the rules, it ceases to be meaningful. Rules are meant to be broken, cake is meant to be eaten, and independence is meant to maintain its independence, by shirking silly labels, like “independent.”


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