John Cassavetes, the godfather of independent cinema

Table of Contents

Cassavetes’ first film

In 1968 John Cassavetes made the film Faces in his home and with his friends and collaborators, which had a huge impact on the development of independent cinema. Made on a budget of just $ 275,000, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. John Cassavetes proved that it was possible to make great films with just a 16mm Bolex, a group of friends and great cinematic creativity. Cassavetes becomes the most famous director of American independent cinema, and more.

Production and stylistic choices

Fifty years after his first screenings, here’s just a snippet of how he laid the foundations for a new kind of film. Grainy film, with sometimes inaudible sound and blurry close-ups. It looks like a “documentary” in fictional form and leaves a great impression of authenticity. A film without any crew, shot with a spirit of pure fun and friendship, only the director and the actors / friends on stage. A film that reaches audiences all over the world. An author like John Cassavetes, could not have spent the time in a more profitable and exciting way.

In 1987, when the undersigned started making films on video, not many people used that tool to make films: many were mainly dedicated to producing video, television and other types of products, but cinema was film . Today the technology is at such a level that a cinematographic work is within the reach of any budget, you just have to find the talent.

Productive independence becomes language

John Cassavetes
John Cassavetes

Faces’ aesthetics could be judged unprofessional and shoddy by much of the film / product addicted audience with which the mainstream media have shaped the brains of the mass audience. But the acting of Faces was his strong point that convinced everyone: so naturalistic, spontaneous and exciting that it far surpassed most of the large industrial productions.

John Cassavetes tells of non-existent trolleys and dollies, of a do-it-yourself ability that in the last 40 years, thanks to video, has become a practice of thousands of young filmmakers. Preserving the film’s rights and owning them, finding all possible technical solutions to make up for the lack of funds, dealing with distribution: Cassavetes was the true pioneer of modern indie cinema with a light 16 mm film camera instead of today’s digital cameras . If he had the technology of today, who knows what he would have done. Although in those days he was one of the few while today in Italy they are almost all directors.

Capturing a feeling

American critic Roger Ebert, writing about the film Faces, said: “… he made a film that analyzes tenderly, honestly and uncompromisingly how we really live.” This is something Cassavetes himself speaks: “I don’t think anyone in Europe knows that America really exists beyond what Hollywood shows them. & nbsp; So we’d like to try to show them what Americans really are … good and bad. “

And while the film’s documentary aesthetics help give the feeling of peering into this world from a kitchen window, Cassavetes wanted people to see beyond the images to feel the art. Our films are not necessarily photography, they are sensations “, he explains.” And if we can capture the feeling of a people, of a way of life, then we have made a good film. That’s all we want to do. We want to capture a feeling.

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Hundreds of movies and documentaries selected without limits

New movies every week. Watch on any device, without any ads. Cancel at any time.