Characters Make All the Difference

Indie film has started to become more popular because of the viewers’ experiences with independent films. After reading Newman’s piece on Indie Cinema Viewing Strategies I believe he does a great job in describing audiences’ viewing strategies by explaining the three strategies: characters are emblems, form is game, and when in doubt, read as an anti-Hollywood. These three strategies are important because they help the audience understand how indie film can be seen as a cultural category. Out of these three strategies I’m only going to talk about two of the strategies which I believe to be important when attracting a viewers attention. With Newman’s reading and my own experience in watching an indie film, “Buffalo ’66,” I was able to develop an appreciation as well as an understanding for the indie film cultural category.

As Newman mentions, “These strategies are what distinguish independent films from classical and art films, and they are the foundation for the audience’s engagement” (Newman, 29). Since independent film isn’t quite as popular to most people the viewers that it does happen to target is drawn to the indie films because it’s different from other typical Hollywood films. Indie films have a way of drawing in an audience and capturing their attention. Characters are one aspect that viewers can depict indie films from other films because they have a way of being more real and as Newman puts it, “truer to life.” Like Newman says, “… independent cinema’s characters are identified so strongly with social types that they come to represent them much more significantly than in other modes of cinema” (Newman, 31). Characters are an important strategy for drawing in the attention of viewers because they are people that the audience is able to relate with more lifelike than Hollywood characters. 

Through my personal experience with watching the indie film “Buffalo ’66” I was able to understand how the strategy of characters can attract a viewers attention. In Newman’s article he says, “Many include significant temporal rearrangement through flashbacks or other devices” (Newman, 39). While watching this movie I noticed that there were multiple flashbacks that focused on Billy’s life. I thought this was a great use of form because for me and my experience with this particular indie film it drew my attention to the character Billy. I felt by using flashbacks in the movie it helped the viewer understand more of Billy’s life and upbringing and the viewers were able to relate to Billy’s character as someone who is real. Another aspect that I liked about the movie is that while Billy, Layla, Billy’s mom, and dad were sitting around the table numerous times the camera moved to each spot in which one of the characters were sitting in and it looked like you were actually there with them sitting around the table because you were able to see what each character was seeing not just one specific character.


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