This Sunday, the Academy Awards will be presented to the best and the brightest in the movie industry. Well, sort of. They are presented mostly to movies that came from big movie studios and had big budgets, rather than movies made by an independent filmmaker.
The Oscar winners might be the best in their particular categories, but if all you watch are big budget movies, you might not be aware that there are many independent filmmakers who are doing fabulous work with small budgets who may never win an Academy Award. Interestingly, they don’t always aspire to either.
Chris White – check out his official site here – is an independent filmmaker out of Greenville, South Carolina, who is too busy preparing for the red carpet premiere of his new movie to be too concerned about watching the Oscars.
“The Oscars are the American film industry’s highest honor. So it’s important to recognize them as such and give them the respect they deserve,” he says. “Ultimately though, I don’t think a contest is the best way to determine the merits of a piece of art.”
White remembers attending Oscar parties as a film fan, but now that he’s making his own movies as an independent filmmaker, he sees the Academy Awards in a slightly different light.
Academy Awards – A Horse Race
“I don’t enjoy the horse race aspect anymore,” he explains. “Making a movie, even a bad movie, is a tremendously difficult thing to do. To make a halfway decent film is a major accomplishment. Each of those Best Picture nominees is a miracle. So, to name one of them the best of the year, is a fool’s errand.”
This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his own Academy Awards predictions (check them out below). “My friend Rian Johnson, who is the writer and director of the next STAR WARS movie, told me that the way you predict winners is by changing ‘best’ to the ‘most.’ So the actress, actor, director who seems to be doing the most work will probably win.”
White says that he started making his own movies playing with action figures as a kid. “Then, when the second Indiana Jones movie came out, I found a behind-the-scenes, making-of magazine about it and couldn’t put it down. It was the moment I realized that I wanted to do this for a living.” He adds with a smile, “And it only took me 25 years to pursue it full-time.”
White and his wife Emily produce at least one feature-length film every year or two. But rather than Oscar gold, the duo aspires to make “artistically ambitious movies with heart.”
The Whites plan to premiere their new film, a five-part anthology of “Southern gothic comedies” called “UNBECOMING,” at a red carpet event on April 3, at the historic Tryon Theatre in Western North Carolina.
“UNBECOMING” – check out the Facebook page here – follows five different storylines: a retired U.S. senator with a dark secret, an in-school suspension teacher and his captive audience of one, two lost souls’ unlikely meeting at a roadside diner, the stomach-churning memory of True Love lost, and a father’s last will and testament passed on via workshop mix tape.
Legendary actress Patti D’Arbanville, no stranger to glitzy red carpet premieres, stars in the Whites’ film.
“The director sets the tone, and Chris is just a peach,” says D’Arbanville. “He’s calm and funny … and he’s an actor, so he knows how to talk to actors and knows what they need. He has a light touch, but he’s not a pushover either. Chris is gentle in a strong way. Which is good in a man.”
White may not have his fingers crossed for Oscar glory, but that doesn’t mean his low-budget indie films aren’t getting industry attention.
Paste Magazine called Chris’ most recent film, the semi-autobiographical showbiz comedy “CINEMA PURGATORIO” “Uproariously funny and good-hearted … a realistic look at both marriage and chasing a dream.” The film won Audience Favorite, Best Comedy at the 2015 Beaufort International Film Festival.
The Whites have also been recognized for their broken-family drama “GET BETTER” (2012) and the spare and touching “TAKEN IN” (2011).
“It’s a tough business,” Chris admits, adding, “But few things in life are as rewarding as making a movie with your family and trusted colleagues and then bringing it to a receptive audience. For Emily and me, April 3 at the Tryon Theatre, surrounded by old friends and fans is our Academy Awards.”
Independent Filmmaker Chris White’s Academy Awards Predictions:
- Wants to win: SPOTLIGHT
- Will win: THE BIG SHORT
- Wants to win: Lenny Abrahamson, ROOM
- Will win: Adam McKay, THE BIG SHORT
- Wants to win: Saoirse Ronan
- Will win: Brie Larson
- Wants to win: Leonardo DiCaprio
- Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Wants to win: Jennifer Jason Leigh
- Will win: Rooney Mara
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Wants to win: Mark Ruffalo
- Will win: Sylvester Stallone
BEST ANIMATED MOVIE
- Wants to win: INSIDE OUT
- Will win: INSIDE OUT
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- Wants to win: INSIDE OUT
- Will win: STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
- Wants to win: ROOM
- Will win: CAROL