When Independent Digital Entertainment (InDigEnt) was founded in 1999, DV filmmaking was still fairly new, although not unknown or unused. The problem was that it wasn't yet recognized and respected enough to be taken seriously in the film market. This was three years before George Lucas delivered the DV-shot Attack of the Clones and changed many minds about the capability of digital cinematography. Today, a great percentage of indie and Hollywood features are made digitally, and InDigEnt may be somewhat obsolete. It comes as no surprise, then, that co-founder Gary Winick has announced the production company will be put to rest come 2007.

Winick, who directed the upcoming Charlotte's Web, got the idea for InDigEnt from the Dogma 95 movement and started the company with John Sloss as a way for indie filmmakers to finance small, cheap projects. Many of the movies produced by InDigEnt aren't too appealing to the eye, but a few of them were great showcases for actors, such as Aaron Stanford, who broke out by appearing in Winick's Tadpole, and Patricia Clarkson, who received an Oscar nod for Pieces of April. But while the company started off well, gaining notice for decent pics like Tadpole, Pieces of April, Personal Velocity: Three Portraits and Richard Linklater'sTape, it eventually fell to near-obscurity with forgettable titles, such as Kill the Poor, Puccini for Beginners and Steve Buscemi'sLonesome Jim (which I still say is hilarious, if not substantial). Buscemi, who voiced a character in Charlotte's Web, and Winick both blame Hollywood for InDigEnt's demise. They claim the studios are more interested in using their specialty divisions, which otherwise serve as distributors for little films, to produce modestly budgeted "indie" pictures like Brokeback Mountain and Capote. "They want the $8 million film to make $100 million instead of the $1 million to make $10 (million)," Winick said to reporters Sunday.

Of course, Winick can't speak too unfavorably of the studio machine. In addition to Charlotte's Web, he directed 13 Going on 30, but hasn't done anything small and "indie" since Tadpole. Charlotte's Web reportedly took more than two years to make, and it therefore took Winick's attention away from InDigEnt. He will be heading to Sundance next month as producer of the final InDigEnt feature, Starting Out in the Evening, which is Andrew Wagner's follow-up to his wonderful debut, The Talent Given Us. Winick's next directorial job, though, may be another studio pic, a family comedy with his Charlotte's Web star, Dakota Fanning.

Hopefully Winick will return to something as interesting as Tadpole again. At the Charlotte's Web premiere, he defended his balance between Hollywood and Indiewood to The Reeler, saying, "Soderbergh does it, Linklater does it -- I'm following good people." But Winick hasn't returned to DV as a director yet, and with InDigEnt closing shop, it seems as though he may never go back.
categories Movies, Cinematical