LONE FILMMAKER maxes out his charge cards, still manages to scrape together enough dough to finish his first film,
wheedles a festival biggie into screening it, and becomes an instant sensation. It's the favorite fable of the
indie world. While there are certainly filmmakers who roughly fit the profile, connections never hurt. The indie
world may seem anarchic but is powered by its very own hierarchy of movers and shakers. They're the distributors,
the producers, the agents, and even the actors whose participation can often clinch a deal-making them the secret
ingredients in many an indie success.
THE CHRONICLER John Pierson, 43, is the man who wrote the book-literally-on
the indie scene. His gossipy '95 memoir, Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes, chronicles his wheeler-dealer
days as a producer's rep, securing financing and distribution for up-and-coming filmmakers like Spike Lee
and Kevin Smith (whose latest, Chasing Amy, Pierson exec-produced). Intended as much to discourage
as encourage - its detailed ledger sheets tell a cautionary tale - the book doesn't seem to have deterred anyone.
"Too many indie movies are being made and too many are being released," says the lanky Pierson, laughing.
It's all grist for his new show, Split Screen, airing on both Bravo and the Independent Film Channel,
in which he surveys the indie scene, interviewing everyone from director Errol Morris to the high school
auteurs he dubs, with typical insouciance, "the Taranteenies."
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