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26 June 2024  •  Arts & Lifestyle

The Juggernaut of Indie Cinema: A24

Their films don’t look like every other film on the scene. Their shots look like visualisations of poems.

By Bethany Alvaro (she/her)
The Juggernaut of Indie Cinema: A24

Past Lives. Aftersun. Midsommar. Uncut Gems. Hereditary. Lady Bird. Moonlight. 

With this selection being the tiniest glimpse to the glory of their films, A24 has quite the resume. But how did a Manhattan indie film production company grow to become the conglomerate that it is now? And more importantly, why do their films connect with film lovers of all levels? 

David Fenkel, Daniel Katz, and John Hodges all lived and breathed film, and in 2012 they decided to take the issue of excessive production control into their own hands, letting filmmakers be filmmakers without the overarching, omnipresence of big business executives at existing production companies. 

As the steamroller of indie cinema, the company often receives critical and general acclaim for its role in creating the most visually appealing, dreamy films no matter the context. Look at this still from Midsommar [pictured above] - a cult horror film - and try to say that this isn’t transcendent in a sense. 

I think this is the part people love the most about A24. Their films don’t look like every other film on the scene. Their shots look like visualisations of poems. I don't have any film training or background, so I can’t narrow down whether it's the colour, framing, or particular elements like mise-en-scene that add to this effect, but as an avid film-goer, A24 always stands out. It's the romanticism of the mundane, the beauty of simplicity, that has such an impact. In my mind, A24 films look like what Lorde’s 2017 album Melodrama sounds like. I can’t explain that, sorry!

A24 isn’t just a film company though – they are a brand, a vision, an essence. They have 2.4 million followers on Instagram; they make a podcast; the r/A24 subreddit has over 73,000 members. For their 2019 film The Lighthouse, Willem DaFoe’s character has a striking beard, so in response to this portrayal, A24 sold (and still sells) ‘The Lighthouse Grooming Set’, including a themed soap and beard oil. But the merch isn’t just for the films they produce – there are A24 hats, keyrings, stickers and shirts, brandishing a myriad of quirky patterns of their logo. 

The studio has even formed an online (soon to be mainstream) niche subgenre of horror dubbed ‘A24 Horror’. Think of a slowburn, eerie film whose biggest fans will tell you that you won't truly ‘get it’ until the fourth watch. There are over 250 lists on Letterboxd called ‘A24 Horror’, a testament to the gravity of their impact. 

The overall spirit of A24 is possibly the biggest element of the company that lends its reasoning for a dedicated fan base. What other film production company has a fan base - who expresses their love and adoration of Paramount? An article by W27 Newspaper, the student paper at the Fashion Institute of Technology NYC, encapsulated the typical fan base of A24 perfectly: 

“…Young generations are packed full of kids who used to stare out the windows of their school buses and pretend they were in music videos, repost spoken word poetry to their middle school Tumblr accounts, or illegally download Norwegian television shows just to seem cooler, and A24 is well aware of it.”

And that's what A24 is all about. They know their audience - their interests, their energy - and align their work as such, in turn growing loyalty and dedication because viewers feel represented and seen in their films, no matter if the film is relatable to audiences, such as I Saw The TV Glow capturing the queer experience, or if the films are figurative but still represent ideals of humanity, such as greed in Uncut Gems. A24 captures this figurative essence in their films so perfectly – try to tell me that Lady Bird was not a Tumblr girl. It isn’t just the movies. A24 films just have a thing about them that make them the quintessential soul of modern cinema for all.


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