Every now and again, InReview will get an advance screener for an upcoming indie film, which we have the discretion to review or pass on, and while we’ve done a few of these, I just realized that I haven’t written a page or post talking about how we handle these inquiries, or our review philosophy as critics, which might be useful for those considering sending us films in the future.
Indie films are a necessary and important part of the film industry, and we generally love featuring them, as it allows us to not only provide valuable feedback to the filmmakers on a level that’s just not possible with big studios, but we also get to cover material few other sites have. It’s no secret that, for this reason, some of our most popular reviews are those of indie films, most likely because it’s easier for them to stick out.
My personal review philosophy is that I only cover a film if it’s clear the filmmaker made a serious effort to make a coherent film. This is not to discourage student films or short films — we mostly get sent short films — but if it’s clear that no professional effort was put into a submitted work (like if it’s more of a low-quality YouTube skit than an actual film), I’ll respectfully decline to review it.
With that being said, we almost always find time for reviewing professional works submitted to us, though our timelines are our own. I understand that, especially for small filmmakers, they can use as much exposure as they can get, and especially at the indie level, professional reviews are extremely valuable things.
And I must admit, I do have a natural bias towards indie films, as I accept that most of them won’t look as good as traditional studio films either because of lack of funds, or because that particularly filmmaker is still learning, and that’s fine. I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon of miserable, disgruntled creatives who write depressing articles telling you to give up on your dreams. I want to encourage indie filmmakers to pursue their craft, and to help them recognize their strengths as well as their weaknesses. So while I won’t guarantee you a positive review, I usually try to give indie filmmakers constructive criticism where I can, because unlike my reviews of large studio films, I know a lot of indie filmmakers read their reviews, and there’s a chance they can learn from them.
I hope that helps. If you’re an independent filmmaker, feel free to send me an advanced screener at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image: Runner1616, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. No alterations.