Recently my alma mater, Chapman University, announced it was launching a studio that would produce 5-10 "micro-budget" (I still hate that term) features a year. "Yay" for them and "yay" for small movies (I don't really like that term either)!
They just hired a marketing head from Warner Brothers. I have no particular distaste for this person (who I don't know) or Warner Brothers (in general). I do not, however, have much confidence in this move. How has the studio system ever demonstrated a full understanding of truly independent (I like this term a little more) filmmaking and its audience?
"Paranormal Activity" you say. Sure, name the one exception. And even in that case, what the studio had to sell was genre and they do that all the time. Genre films from studio divisions have rarely relied on star power. Generally, fans of thrillers want to see thrillers, fans of horror want to see horror, etc.
But has a studio ever tried to sell something like "The Exiles"? "Putty Hill"? "Killer of Sheep"? Have they ever tried to sell something with no star power, an original concept told by a unique, perhaps even new, voice?
This move tells me the micro-budgets my beloved Chapman will produce will all or mostly be genre pieces and very little envelope pushing will be afforded. It doesn't mean great movies can't or won't be made, but it does reduce the chances.