Independent Film Directors

Tuesday, April 12 by Jason Cuthbert

All five of these independent film directors have been referred to in cinematic terms as "auteurs," meaning authors of their films, for their unprecedented amount of creative control. They are known for often taking on both writing and directing duties and generally generating their own projects – unlike directors that work-for-hire. Let these independent film directors provide you with some hand-crafted movie choices that possess their personal taste and set of aesthetics.

  1. Woody Allen. For the course of over 40 films, and during six different decades, Woody Allen has been one of the hardest working and most highly recognizable independent film directors ever to yell "Action." He has had the rare opportunity to write and direct the films of his choice without answering to a movie studio's criteria and has managed to work with a lengthy list of acting talent that includes: Meryl Streep, Sean Penn, Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, and Edward Norton – which only touches the surface. With three Academy Award wins and 21 nominations, Woody Allen has definitely not been an underdog in the critical acclaim department.
  2. Quentin Tarantino. Not since Spike Lee in the 1980's has an independent film director emerged so strongly as a pop culture personality as Quentin Tarantino in the 1990's after his back-to-back cinematic assault with "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction." His own pop cultural tastes, sense of humor, and love of movies was hardwired into his work so well that his dialogue and usage of violence became a trademark many tried to duplicate. Not to be stunted by these two large indie film achievements, Tarantino created an incredible female action hero in his two-part "Kill Bill" series in 1993 and 1994, and had his most successful box office outcome to date in 2009 with the Academy Award winning "Inglourious Basterds."
  3. Darren Aronofsky. With no major stars, black and white film, and about $60,000, the Brooklyn-bred independent filmmaker Darren Aronofsky pulled off a thriller about a paranoid math genius seeking to unlock the secrets of our universe in the movie "Pi." The subject of fanatical obsession has continued to be a reoccurring theme in Aronofsky's work. In "Requiem for a Dream" it was addiction, in "The Fountain" it was for eternal love, "The Wrestler" it was the desire for redemption, and "Black Swan" it was a need for perfection.
  4. Richard Linklater. Representing Texas' contributions to film, this movie maverick has walked an intriguing road between mainstream and independent films. He put in work with the major studio system with "The Newton Boys," the "Bad News Bears" remake, and "The School of Rock." On a more experimental note he created two animated mind-benders – about dreams with "Waking Life" and drugs in "A Scanner Darkly." Linklater continued to push the envelope of creativity with "Tape," using just three people in real time in a motel room, and a currently unnamed project that literally shows a boy growing up, with footage shot for a few weeks each year between 2001 to 2013.
  5. Jim Jarmusch. Education became an early building block in Jarmusch's artistic development – Columbia University with a B.A. in English, NYU's film school, and the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris. Two of his feature-length independent films, "Stranger Than Paradise" and "Coffee and Cigarettes" began as short movies, with the latter beginning his repeat collaborations with Bill Murray which include: "Broken Flowers" and "The Limits of Control." Aside from writing and directing his own movies, Jarmusch has also been known to cast musicians in acting roles including: Tom Waits, RZA and The GZA from Wu-Tang Clan, Iggy Pop and Jack and Meg White from The White Stripes.

- Jason Cuthbert