This week we’re focusing on how the innovations of independent filmmakers working outside the major studios—as explained in A Decade Under the Influence—were ultimately adopted or absorbed by the film industry they were rebelling against, which in turn helped pull studios like Paramount out of the slump (as explored in The Kid Stays in the Picture) and pull filmmakers like Scorsese, Coppola, DePalma, and Friedkin into the mainstream.
For this week’s assignment, please write a 400-600-word essay on the various innovations drawing connections between the two documentaries that are required viewing for this week:
First, discuss some of the innovative techniques the Hollywood Renaissance filmmakers in A Decade Under the Influence (Demme and Lagravanese, 2004) used to tap into the 1960s and 70s counterculture to connect with young audiences; and Second, discuss how Robert Evans, as detailed in The Kid Stays in the Picture (Morgan and Burnstein, 2002) incorporated some of these same approaches and techniques in some of films he chose to produce as head of Paramount.
“Discuss techniques” here is asking you to provide examples of innovative or new visual (camerawork, editing, settings/art direction, acting, etc) or narrative (subject matter, storytelling, characterization, endings, etc.) approaches from any of the dozens of independent films covered in A Decade Under the Influence Part I: Influences and Independents such as Easy Rider (Hopper, 1969), and then connect them to one or a few of the films Evans produced, such as Chinatown (Polanski, 1974) that used some of the same or similar techniques, hired some of the filmmakers for his big studio films, etc. An example of this might be if Dennis Hopper mentioned wanting to leave audiences unsettled in Easy Rider and Robert Evans says something similar about Chinatown.
Robert Evans was ahead of his time—sort of the studio executive equivalent of some of the independents in these documentaries—so he may even beat some of the independents to the punch on some techniques. Thus, if you want to talk about something he did in Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski, 1968), but the independent films that did the same thing came out later, that’s okay. The important thing here is to just connect what was going on in independent cinema in the mid 60s-70s to some of the innovations incorporated by Evans at Paramount (and then by the other studios who followed suit) in the late-60s-80s.
Citation: The first time you mention any film (whether one of the docs or one of the films they discuss) follow the MLA in-text citation style demonstrated above (director’s last name, year film came out).
400-600 Word Essay
Assessment based equally on:
Strength of discussion, insight, analysis
Use of evidence from the films to support dicussion
Grammar, mechanics, writing style
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