August marked 6 years since the main American independent film production and distribution company A24 Studio was founded. Indie films have been around for more than a decade, but right now there is no company that would make more visible projects than the A24. Western press calls the studio ‘innovators’ and ‘the future cinema’. We investigate how A24 studio is disrupting the film industry and Hollywood.
If you don’t know anything about A24, you must have heard about their films and maybe even watched some. There are quite a few masterpieces in the film studio’s portfolio. The Bling Ring by Sofia Coppola, Under the skin with Scarlett Johansson, Amy documentary about Amy Winehouse, The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos with Colin Farrell, the famous Moonlight that received an Oscar in 2017, The Florida Project by Sean Baker, Lady Bird Greta Gerwig – all these pictures were vigorously discussed in the media and among the cinephiles. In contrast to large studios that prefer to invest in ‘guaranteed-success’ but patterned blockbusters, the A24 distributes low-budget films of complex cut, capable of capturing the attention through the originality of the idea.
About the founders of A24 studio
A24 studio was founded by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges. At one point the trio realised that they wanted to film different movies than the ones that were so mainstream in Hollywood.
“Films just stopped being as exciting as they used to be when we just started our career. The world needed something different”, says Katz on the decision to open his own company.
What is so special about the A24 studios?
First and foremost, A24 studio respect the director and his/her vision. Giants of film business obviously prefer a guaranteed cash and the absence of scandals, and therefore often choose directors for commercial reasons who are often ready to change their creative direction. Unlike large studios, A24 considers the director’s creative freedom to be the key to success. The A24 team will prefer to take the risk and invest money and efforts in the author with an unusual vision, rather than working on something orthodox.
The thing that in my opinion unites most of the A24 films is the opportunity to look at life through the eyes of a certain category of people. Thus, in The Bling Ring by Sofia Coppola we see events from the point of view of an outsider seeking a glamorous lifestyle, and Lady Bird tells a story of a teenage girl from a poor family.
A24 studio is constantly using various Internet platforms to promote their films and events. For example, when the studio was preparing for the premiere of Ex Machina in 2014, visitors of the festival could find a woman named Ava on Tinder. In the chat Ava always asked the user: “What makes you a man?”. She then invited the partner to look through her Instagram, where a trailer to the movie was posted. It was easy to guess that Ava was a bot, not a real woman. All major American media wrote about this campaign, and even in the absence of some famous movie stars in the cast, Ex Machina became one of the most profitable films of the year.
A24 also always follow and adapt to the most recent trends and this year when we are experiencing a boom in podcasting, the company launched their own – The A24 Podcast. Actors, directors and other industry professionals discuss not only film but also other interesting cultural and social topics.
What started it all and what was the biggest success story so far?
The first breakthrough for A24 was the crime drama/comedy Spring Breakers. Now it’s hard to imagine but for 2012 it was a rather risky project: in the film about drugs, sex and violence, along with James Franco starred Disney stars Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson. In the movie cute Disney actresses demonstrate the world their wild side.
Financial success is an important KPI for any business, but A24 received a reputation victory as well. Moonlight was awarded with an Oscar for Best Film. Right at the time when Hollywood was accused of racial discriminations, Moonlight was released and told a story of an African American teenager who is discovering his homosexuality.
Have you seen any A24 studio films?
Text: Irina Gorskaia
Images: A24 Films, GQ, Slash Film