A psychological thriller in which an American living in Paris gets mixed up with prostitution and blackmail, 'Simon Killer' is yet another entry into a certain niche of independent filmmaking that has seen recent success. This niche isn’t about genre, it’s not about style and it has nothing to do with big name stars. Rather, it deals with the collective effort behind the production.
Filmmaking being collaborative is naturally par for the course, but this approach of an organized group, be it large or small, consisting of like-minded artists working together as a whole seems to be a recurring trend in the production of some of today’s noteworthy independent cinema. Strength in numbers, or however you choose to phrase it. An effort to stand tall above the currently crowded forest of striving independent filmmakers. Antonio Campos, for example, is one of three directors/producers from Borderline Films, the same organization behind his feature 'Afterschool' in 2008, and the more well-known feature from 2011, Sean Durkin’s 'Martha Marcy May Marlene,' which starred Elizabeth Olsen. While 'Afterschool' didn’t make too wide of a splash outside the festival circuit, Campos’ involvement in the larger success story of 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' most likely benefited the eventual financing and production of his follow-up with 'Simon Killer.'
The collective approach was also seen with the L.A.-based trio of filmmakers Zal Batmanglij, Mike Cahill and Brit Marling. In 2011, Cahill’s 'Another Earth' and Batmanglij’s 'Sound Of My Voice,' both co-written and starring Marling, were already buzz-worthy before the films were even released, aided by a backstory of how they were made for a micro-budget by three unknown filmmakers, all friends from college, who worked out of their shared home. Off the combined success off these two projects, Batmanglij’s next feature 'The East' was made on a larger scale, with a bigger budget, recognizable actors such as Ellen Page, and is being released early this summer. On a similar note, last year’s indie hit 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild,' directed by Oscar nominee Benh Zeitlin, was also produced by a collective, proudly stated with the first credit at the end of the film which read 'A Film By Court 13' as opposed to 'A Film By Benh Zeitlin.'
While 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild' has climbed highest above the fray of true independent films in recent years, riding its acclaim all the way to a slew of Oscar nominations, the works of Campos and his Borderline Films, as well as Batmanglij, Cahill and Marling are all impressive accomplishments, and have firmly established these individuals as consistently working filmmakers worthy of keeping an eye on.