Kentucker Audley's "Open Five"

Innovators: Kentucker Audley Pushes Forward
Truly Indie Cinema With NoBudge Films

This week on The Moveable Fest, we’re celebrating a collection of filmmakers who are finding a new way into the film industry on their own terms.

After directing the acclaimed features “Team Picture,” “Holy Land” and “Open Five” (seen above) in short succession, the time was right for Kentucker Audley to take a breather. But to hear it from his end, the break has not been entirely to recharge his batteries.

“Part of the reason I don’t want to direct for awhile is because there’s no room for my films to exist,” said Audley. “They’re not getting anywhere. I’ve had very little luck with film festivals and traditional distribution.”

Although fans of Audley will be heartened to learn he’s at work on a sequel to “Open Five,” they should be equally encouraged that he’s redirected the daring that’s led to such raw and revealing dramas into creating a new distribution platform for them to be shown. Or rather, a “curated self-release platform” as Audley likes to call NoBudge Films, the remarkably simple Web site the actor/writer/director set up in August 2011 as an cineplex for his films and others. The distinction is actually an important one considering that since it began, NoBudge has become much more than a place for people to come and watch movies, but instead to actively engage with them and the people who make them.

At no time was this more evident than during the site’s first Live Screening Series in May, which presented eight films including “The Color Wheel” director Alex Ross Perry’s first feature “Impolex” and Stephen Gurewitz’s “Marvin Seth and Stanley” (almost simultaneous with its world premiere at the Wisconsin Film Festival) followed by a post-screening Q & A with the director. Seeing these often highly personal films alone at your computer screen would seem to be at odds with Audley’s aim to “replicate the shared experience of going to a theater,” and yet NoBudge has been steadily been pulling together a community through his selection of films from Dublin, Ireland to Audley’s home of Memphis, from short subjects to feature-length, and from festivals ranging from Sundance to SXSW to those without laurels to rest on.

“For underground work, film festivals have long been an entry point but there’s so many films made now, festivals can’t keep up,” said Audley. “This leaves a great gap. Maybe online availability should be the first step and playing theaters a luxury we can live without for a first film or the first couple.”

Audley speaks from experience since NoBudge was born when he couldn’t find a home for his third feature “Open Five” despite positive notices from The New York Times and the New Yorker. Instead, he debuted the film on his personal blog and realized there might be other filmmakers who would prefer to have their work seen for free than not to be seen at all. Since then, Audley has invited other filmmakers to submit their work to the site and he’s put up the stuff he’s liked, giving a home to many first-time filmmakers’ experimental features and placing some of his own favorites of recent years (or in Audley’s words “examples of the new wave of truly independent films that have been completely overlooked”) such as Christian Palmer’s abrasive, unsettling character study “William Never Married” and Timothy Morton’s remembrance of musician Tim Cushing, “Scattered Junk,” in the proper context to be appreciated.

Two weeks from now from July 11th through 13th, NoBudge will be doing the latter even more specifically when it presents “Frank V. Ross Week,” a showcase of the editor/director’s last three films including the festival fave “Audrey the Trainwreck” and a sneak preview of his new film “Tiger Tail in Blue.” It’s one of the many things Audley has in the works for NoBudge, which also includes another Live Screening Series before year’s end. As Audley sees it, the bigger the site becomes as a venue for independent filmmaking, the more it will legitimize the medium at a time when others seem to be losing faith.

“Truly independent films are validating themselves because even established filmmakers are working this way,” Audley said. “But it’s a constant battle, and traditional validating forces, like Sundance, aren’t interested in the films we’re showing. If NoBudge can become a trusted outlet, then filmmakers have one more potential voice of support.”

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