mirAmax, sundance, and the rise of independent film
This book tells the story of the independent film explosion of the 1990s — how it happened, and why it ended. It’s a story about success, and how that success seeded the path of eventual failure. Individual filmmakers survived, but the movement itself was finished by decade’s end.
The book focuses on the twin towers of the indie world in that decade: Robert Redford, who couldn’t keep his fingers out of the Sundance cookie jar, and the Weinstein brothers with their company, Miramax, whose eyes got so big they tried to beat the studios at their own game, and failed. Harvey Weinstein is arguably the most controversial character to sit behind a desk since the old moguls, the Darryl Zanucks, Harry Cohns, and Louis B. Mayers of the world packed their bags for the other side. His story has never been told as fully and as vividly as it is here.
Down and Dirty Pictures also tracks the fortunes of distributors like October, led by men who just loved movies, but who were pushed aside by those who were only in it for the money. In the course of telling their stories, the book explores the careers of the most gifted indie filmmakers of that era, including Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell, Kevin Smith, Spike Lee, Todd Haynes, Allison Anders, Billy Bob Thornton, and Anthony Minghella. It also touches on the new generation of actors who cut their teeth on indie films, like Thornton, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck. Down and Dirty Pictures is packed with colorful interviews with most of the players in the indie movement of the 1990’s, and provides everything you want to know about the great films of the era, including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Clerks, sex, lies, and videotape, Spanking the Monkey, Sling Blade, Good Will Hunting, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Gangs of New York, and many, many others.
Eugene Hernandez, “Biskind Goes Inside Sundance, Miramax, and Independent Film with ‘Down and Dirty Pictures’,” Indiewire, February 6, 2004