“Indie prods” in action

28Oct11

This week my blog post is about a project I only discovered recently – well, of course, it was a secret – and that I am incredibly excited about: Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. I’m a decent-sized Whedon fan (I think a lot of his stuff is very hit or miss) but I am a huge fan of his attitude towards making media, and even bigger Shakespeare fan. So perhaps it goes without saying that the idea of this project is exciting to me any as a lover of a certainfilmmaker or certain source material.

Joss Whedon, on the set of "Much Ado About Nothing"

However, as someone who wants to independently produce media, learning more about this project has been equally exciting – especially after some of the reading we have done on film this week!

According to this Entertainment Weekly article, Whedon filmed this project in secret during what was supposed to be a post-Avengers vacation with his wife. The project was self-cast, self-produced, self-funded and filmed in 12 days. Anyone familiar with the internet sensation Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog knows that this is right in line with Whedon’s style: contrasting a high budget, high-exposure piece like The Avengers immediately with a personal passion piece, which speaks pretty directly to what Perren discusses in terms of media makers having to go between commercial projects and smaller “projects of passion” (p. 160-161) in order to keep support themselves, keep themselves in the modern entertainment industry and yet still be able to work on their small projects.

It’s also interesting because anyone who knows Whedon’s work knows that he likes to surround himself and work repeatedly with some familiar talent, and this is another project cast with Whedonverse alums (EW) many of whom are familiar faces in a more commercial scale as well (Nathan Fillion, anyone?). Certainly, the increased need for media workers to be skilled in multiple  areas and access to high-quality equipment at lower prices are precisely the reason why many media-makers, like Whedon, are able to spear-head and produce independent projects in between their bigger commercial projects (Randle, 148). However, what is particularly telling about many of Whedon’s small projects, such as this and Dr. Horrible, is that a lot of his cult-follwing and fame comes from his internet works, and not just from his TV and film projects. Certainly the advances of digital technology and distribution discussed in the books – hello, Dr. Horrible! – show quite clearly how an internet following through distribution of small-sclae projects can contribute to an overall picture of fame. As we read, yes, it may be hard to build a career on purely web material, but as the careers of producers like Joss Whedon show us, they can certainly provide a venue not only for “projects of passion” but also supplement commercial success as well.

– Shannon

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