‘Lost City of Z’ Director Talks Indie Filmmaking: ‘I Am Struggling Financially’

Charlie Hunnam and James Gray on ‘Lost City of Z’ set/Image © 2016 LCOZ Holdings LLC

Editor's Note:

James Gray, director of ‘The Lost City of Z,’ is shedding light on the life of an indie filmmaker. This, online trolling, and more all in today’s Daily Blunt.

All outward indicators would suggest that James Gray has made it: His adaptation of The Lost City of Z has opened to rave reviews, the latest in a series of films revealing his keen directorial vision. And yet, Gray wants everyone to know the true state of the indie filmmaking business, which has all but chewed him up and spit him out: “I’ve made, good or bad, very uncompromising movies, the movies exactly that I wanted to make, and that’s a beautiful gift, so I’m not complaining about that,” he said in a recent interview. “But I struggle. I have a hard time paying my bills. I’m forty-seven years old, I live in an apartment, I can’t buy a house.” He’s not the only one working in that deep canyon between Marvel blockbusters and movies shot on an iPhone — David Lynch and John Waters have both cited the vanishing indie film industry as the main reason for exercising their creativity in other media. If Gray really wants to pay those bills, perhaps he’ll end up following their cue … and write books.

Other indie filmmakers face an uphill climb because of the way movies are rated and discussed online: The Hollywood Reporter declares that we have officially lost the battle against online trolls — the kind who flock to message boards and then besiege a film with one-star ratings. Websites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes offer little recourse to studios and filmmakers who fall victim to these smear campaigns, although the article reports that a recent film about the Armenian genocide called “The Promise” has managed to climb back to 4.6 stars (out of 10) thanks to a counter-smear campaign by people who hate to see a film’s reputation fatally damaged by political posturing.

An Atlanta theater is finding itself in the hot seat thanks to a revival of a 1998 Paul Rudnick play that recasts Bible stories in a humorous light, with an emphasis on LGBTQ perspectives. Things have changed a lot in the U.S. since “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” debuted off-Broadway, so now the theater is awash in phone calls, emails, and online petitions signed by people who, in the words of the play’s director, “have their minds made up before it starts.” Despite the best efforts of those taking umbrage, the show will go on.

Now that “Stranger Things” has shown everyone just how far you can get by mopping Stephen King’s aesthetic, the rest of us have work to do. Take, for example, artist Butcher Billy’s collection of classic love and heartbreak songs re-imagined as King-esque paperback covers, from “Man Eater” (featuring a very juicy eyeball) to the avowedly creepy “Every Breath You Take.” He’s selling these as prints and tee shirts as well, so you can advertise to all prospective romantic interests just how deep is your love.