Friday, May 18, 2012

The indie film 'Another Earth'

I have self-published three books that I am sure would never have seen the light of day had I sent them via an agent to a large publishing house, so that makes me an indie author. Not that I am against traditional forms of publishing, mind you. I just believe in giving underdogs a small chance. I may try the traditional publishing route with my next book, but it’s not finished yet and I may still change my mind. As I’ve written about before, Amazon/CreateSpace has given indie authors like me a chance to get our books out there. I’ll never be a millionaire from the royalties I get from the minor book sales I enjoy, but I’ve learned valuable things about the publishing and marketing worlds, and that by itself is worth gold, because I don’t have to pay a publicist to market my book. This is the true beauty of our modern society—dreams can become realities in the digital age.

But this time around this post is not about my experiences as an indie writer, but rather about an indie movie I rented recently. A nice little gem of a film released in 2011 called Another Earth; it had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 24 January 2011 where it won an award. You can find it listed on IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1549572/. It was directed by Mike Cahill, and written by him and Brit Marling, who also has the lead female role of Rhoda in the film. Another Earth is labeled as both a drama and a sci-fi film, and I guess you could say that it is a sci-fi film of sorts. But the science fiction aspect is not paramount; it is the backdrop for the personal drama that plays out in the film. Despite the presence of the ‘other earth’ in the sky—a hauntingly beautiful orb that looks just like our planet—the film is really about what happens to individual lives in the aftermath of personal tragedy. It is about making amends, paying back, trying to forgive, and trying to move on with one’s life. The two main characters, Rhoda and John (played by William Mapother), have a hard time moving on with their lives. Their paths become entwined through a mistake really, or rather a failure on the part of Rhoda, a college-age young woman, to inform John, a middle-aged professor for whom she cleans house, about her role in the car accident that took his wife and child from him. Her inability to tell him about her role in his personal tragedy leads inevitably to another type of failure—the end of a love affair, but which inspires her to try to set things right for him. The film is well-worth seeing. The sci-fi elements of the film serve to keep us wondering about the possibility of second chances on the other earth, and this involves the aspect of whether or not there is synchrony between both planets. Will the other ‘me’ on the other earth have lived the same life as I did on this earth, and so forth. I won’t give away the details or ending of the film, but will say that despite a rather abrupt ending, you won’t be disappointed. The film will make you think, and if you read the message boards about this film on IMDB, you will find that there are others who are puzzling about the very same things. The mark of a good film—it gets people talking, discussing and trading ideas and possible scenarios.

I have no idea how much it costs to make films, nor do I have any idea of what it cost to make Another Earth. According to IMDB, it grossed $77,740 in the USA on its opening weekend (24 July 2011); it opened on four screens. As of 2 October 2011, it had grossed $1,316,074 in the USA. I rented the DVD here in Oslo just last weekend; I cannot remember that it opened in the theaters here, although according to IMDB it opened here in Norway in November 2011. No matter. I’ve seen it on DVD. It will be interesting to see what returns will come from the foreign market, especially from DVD rentals/sales. The American earnings are not a lot of money really, compared to what some of the commercial blockbusters rake in. But I’m betting that Mike Cahill and Brit Marling are not complaining. I doubt it cost them that much money to make the film. So now they may even have some funds to write and direct a new film. It will be interesting to follow them further; I hope they make more films like Another Earth

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