What makes a movie indie? To put it literally, these films come from independent production companies, and the same goes for music independent from a record label. But being indie has taken on a meaning of its own, centered around individuality and steering away from trends in popular culture.
When it comes to aesthetics, it’s clear when certain companies are attracting a specific type of consumer. To narrow that down, the independent film company A24 is known for attracting consumers who fit into the indie and alternative aesthetic.
A24 began in 2012 as an independent entertainment company, and their productions are a perfect example of the content those in the indie aesthetic usually consume. While the indie community is typically drawn to the idea of individuality and steering away from the mainstream, traditionally-indie film companies like A24 are now reaching mainstream success.
The 2016 film “Moonlight,” produced by A24, won multiple awards including the 2017 Academy Award for Best Picture. More recently, the 2022 film “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” also a product of A24, won two Golden Globes and seven Oscars this year.
These are two examples of unique content produced from indie production companies that end up being consumed and enjoyed by everyone. Despite the growing popularity of A24 films in mainstream media, they still resonate with indie audiences who have found community within this genre.
However, gatekeeping, which just happened to be one of Vogue’s words of the year for 2022, has also grown in popularity, making audiences less inclusive of all viewership. Gatekeeping centers around one withholding information so it’s unique to themselves. This has become increasingly popular on TikTok with products like clothes, makeup, music and movies.
This can be seen in A24 and other indie films and film production companies, as audiences who knew of these productions first sometimes wish to keep this unique knowledge to themselves. In an effort to be individual and fit into the world of indie, some try to hide or gatekeep what they are currently interested in to uphold their desired image.
Neo-noir films are a modern take on noir classic movies that some people find their aesthetic niche in. A genre that first flourished in the post-World War II era, neo-noir still finds its relevance in the film industry.
Film noir directly translates to dark film, signifying sinister plots, shadowy cinematographic styles and typically graphic stories.
The 2014 neo-noir film “Nightcrawler” comes from Bold Films, an independent film company that fits into the indie genre much like A24 does, but without as much mainstream recognition. This company is known for its production of the movie “Whiplash,” but has many additional lesser-known works like “The Guilty” and “Colette.”
“Nightcrawler” represents this aesthetic through its melodramatic cinematography.
Actor and producer of the film Jake Gyllenhaal showcased the eerie and sinister elements of the genre all too well. From his sunken eyes and the harsh shadowing effects to the creepily upbeat music amid gruesome scenes, the film sits in a deep genre of dark indie.
By fitting into this sadistic and eclectic genre, the film attracts a specific type of alternative consumer. A community is formed among the fans of this eerie editing style and darker cinematography, as well as those in the gothic aesthetic and indie culture.
Finding a specific niche like neo-noir and seeing that interest represented in film allows people who are attracted to this indie form to find a sense of belonging.
Indie movies are known and loved for their soundtracks. They’re often different from the music heard in more mainstream movies from big production companies. Not only do soundtracks set the tone for the film, but they attract individuals looking for a unique sound that’s unlike something people may hear on the radio.
Like with “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” the soundtrack had more of a rawness to it and didn’t fit into the pop genre as soundtracks often do in popular movies. But people everywhere were still able to enjoy the sound of this film. The original score came from the lesser-known band Son Lux, but songs in the film were performed by artists like Mitski and Randy Newman.
Whether it be through movies, music or clothes, people look for ways in which to express uniqueness and individuality. By turning to the indie genre, many develop that certain sense of style and personality focused on finding little niches, and that’s where they may just find themselves.