"A singular fusion of taste and edge" : A24 and the indie sector in the 2010s

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Briggs, Ryan David

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This thesis uses A24, an independent film and television company, as a case study to examine the American indie sector during the 2010s. Employing discursive analysis of trade and popular press outlets, industrial analysis of Conglomerate Hollywood, textual and genre analyses of individual films, and paratextual analysis of marketing and branding strategies, this study reveals continuities and changes in the indie sector during a decade of record global box office grosses and the continued consolidation of the media industries. This thesis lays out the state of the multi-tiered indie sector throughout the decade. This includes the mini-conglomerate Lionsgate, conglomerate-owned specialty divisions like Focus Features, and genuine independents like A24. I also argue that by cultivating a unique brand that catered to young Millennials, Generation Z-ers, and cinephiles, A24 became the leading tastemaker in the indie sector over the course of the 2010s. The company accomplished this by refining a house style that encompassed elevated genre films, prestigious realist dramas, and quirky dark comedies. This house style points to notable differences in indie film culture from the Sundance-Miramax era, when leading indie companies kept genre and prestige indie films under separate divisions. A24 also released a number of coming-of-age films that targeted young audiences. Finally, the company demonstrated a commitment to auteur filmmaking in order to create long lasting relationships with key talent and simultaneously appeal to cinephile audiences and indie film culture. Throughout this study I also track the evolving interdependent relationship between streaming platforms and indie cinema throughout the decade. A24’s production and licensing deals with companies like Amazon and Apple exemplify the ways in which the indie and streaming sectors have become deeply intertwined during the 2010s. The addition of the streaming giants to Conglomerate Hollywood and the indie sector underscores further fundamental changes to indie film culture from previous eras studied by scholars.


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