Alisa Perren is an associate professor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. She is co-editor of Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method (Blackwell, 2009) and author of Indie, Inc.: Miramax and the Transformation of Hollywood in the 1990s (University of Texas Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in a range of publications, including Film Quarterly, Journal of Film and Video, Journal of Popular Film & Television, Cinema Journal, Managing Media Work, and Moving Data. Her current book project is The American Comic Book Industry and Hollywood, co-authored with Gregory Steirer for BFI’s International Screen Industries series.
From 2010 to 2013, Perren served as Coordinating Editor for In Media Res, an online project experimenting with collaborative, multi-modal forms of scholarship. She is co-founder and a member of the editorial collective for Media Industries, an online, peer-reviewed, open-access journal. She also served as co-managing editor for Media Industries from 2012 to 2017.
Indie, Inc.: Miramax and the Transformation of Hollywood in the 1990s
During the 1990s, films such as sex, lies, and videotape, The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Love earned substantial sums at the box office along with extensive critical acclaim. A disproportionate number of these hits came from one company: Miramax. Indie, Inc. surveys Miramax’s evolution from independent producer-distributor to studio subsidiary, chronicling how one company transformed not just the independent film world but the film and media industries more broadly. As Alisa Perren illustrates, Miramax’s activities had an impact on everything from film festival practices to marketing strategies, talent development to awards campaigning.
Case studies of key films, including The Piano, Kids, Scream, The English Patient, and Life Is Beautiful, reveal how Miramax went beyond influencing Hollywood business practices and motion picture aesthetics to shaping popular and critical discourses about cinema during the 1990s. Indie, Inc. does what other books about contemporary low-budget cinema have not—it transcends discussions of “American indies” to look at the range of Miramax-released genre films, foreign-language films, and English-language imports released over the course of the decade. The book illustrates that what both the press and scholars have typically represented as the “rise of the American independent” was in fact part of a larger reconfiguration of the media industries toward niche-oriented products.