Editor's Note: This blog was originally shared on Cody's Substack: Kill The Lion and republished here with the author's permission. You can watch No Shark (2022) and several other of Kill The Lion's feature-length films for free on Cody Clarke's YouTube Channel and subscribe to his monthly subscription service here.
WARNING: By the end of this piece you really will know how to destroy Hollywood with just two dollars. This is knowledge that the powers that be do not want you to have, or act upon. Proceed with caution.
Voting isn’t only done in the voting booth—in fact, you are always voting. Every day of your life you are making choices, decisions, that are essentially ‘votes’. If you decide to have a bowl of chili, you are ‘voting’ for chili to exist—and that specific restaurant’s chili, or that brand of chili, if it came from a can, along with every aspect of the chili—is it organic, is it meat or bean chili, is the can it came out of BPA-free. This isn’t a video about chili—I bring chili up only to show how even seemingly innocuous choices in your life can affect the world much as a vote might.
As we the people become disillusioned by the literal voting system of elections, and by how rarely politicians do what we elect them to do, more and more we are remembering the vast power we have as consumers in shaping the world around us, and are making personal decisions not to support, with our dollar, certain corporations, or even entire industries, which wield seemingly more power than elected officials these days, and which many of us do not agree with the aims or practices of on a moral or philosophical level. This is not a choice that we make with the belief that it will put these enormous entities out of business (though anything is possible) but more to show disapproval and encourage better behavior out of them. At its core though, even if nothing comes of it and it’s just a purely symbolic gesture, it still feels good knowing that your hard-earned cash is not going into hands that you believe are harming society.
These aren’t nitpick-y decisions—you don’t cancel your Disney+ subscription because the CEO enjoys a different brand of chili than you do. We as decent human beings understand that varying personal preferences, within reason, are not worth fighting battles over—when a customer does take a stand it is due to a perceived, or very real, uncross-able line having been crossed.
It is entirely healthy and rational to believe that Hollywood has crossed a line, particularly in recent years. I do not need to get into specifics, and will not—if I did, this video would get taken down, which would deprive people of information that they could greatly benefit from. Instead, I will merely describe Hollywood on a fundamental level which even it could not deny: Hollywood is an archaic and powerful gatekeeper, its entertainment serving as a delivery system for messaging which benefits the powerful—including, of course, itself. Any specific lines it crosses in addition to that, however horrific they may be, are a distraction from the fundamental truth that Hollywood’s existence whatsoever is in fact a ‘crossed line’—Hollywood should not exist.
Film is an art form, and as such, it does not need an industry. The only reason that art is ever industrialized is to turn it into a product—and the product that art is most often turned into is a colorful gelcap for authoritarian messaging. One could argue that for the vast majority of film’s existence, this was a necessary evil, the materials required to make a film being so expensive that gatekeeping of some form were unavoidable. But such conditions are no longer the case—for decades, the people, individuals, have had everything they need in order to make films themselves. Few among us have truly realized this yet, but the technology is cheap and readily available—the art form of film is in the hands of the people, and as such, it can finally start to become an actual art form. The first 100 years or so of film, when filmmaking was under lock and key both cost-prohibitively and by gatekeepers, were mere prologue. The next 100 years and beyond belong to the people—we are only just now starting to learn what film is, and can be.
As we are learning this, and are creating truly independent films for the first time in history, authoring what are in fact the first actual chapters in the history of cinema, entities exist to silence us, and even erase this history as it is being written. There is a vested interest by the establishment in preventing the people from knowing what can and is being done filmmaking-wise on a truly independent level. To this day, when you say ‘low-budget film’, the image in people’s heads is that of something poorly shot on tape—this despite videotapes being long gone from filmmaking except in deliberate cases of kitsch. It is as inexpensive to produce a beautiful looking film today as it is to produce an ugly one. Hollywood wants you to believe that it takes millions of dollars to create beauty, but in truth, it takes thousands of hours—your greatest actual cost these days is just your own time and energy developing your skills and proficiency as an artist. Like with pen and paper, paintbrush and canvas, fingers and guitar, the only thing standing in the way of you making a beautiful film is yourself.
Since 2011, I have made more than ten truly independent feature-length films. I make sure to use the word ‘truly’, because much of what is termed ‘independent film’ is in fact independent in name only, produced in conjunction with major studios and/or the Hollywood system. My work is wholly my own every step of the way—I go out there with my equipment and my actors and I make a great movie, unique and beautiful and proficient, sometimes for mere hundreds of dollars—my highest budget films were made for just a few thousand. After I finish a film, it remains mine, too—I own my films fully, and I self-distribute them. I am an auteur in the truest and most accurate sense of the word, and I am a thought leader on the subject of truly independent film—I quite literally wrote the book on it, a near 300-pager entitled ‘Kill The Lion: A Manifesto and How-To Guide for the Truly Independent Filmmaking Revolution’, which you can get a free copy of by signing up for my mailing list.
My film studio, Kill The Lion Films, derives its name from a line in a Charles Bukowski poem called ‘The People’. It reads: ‘True revolution comes from true revulsion; when things get bad enough, the kitten will kill the lion”. The wisdom of this quote can easily be applied to truly independent film—we are the kittens, and the Hollywood machine is the lion, and we’ve had it up to here, and our tiny claws will be enough to destroy it.
My mission in life is to make great films truly independently and to educate people to the fact that they can too—we are living in an age where the only thing standing in the way of you making your film is you not knowing or thinking it’s possible. Resist the brainwashing by the establishment that tells you that the people cannot create their own good, honest-to-God films. Whether you’ve always dreamed of making films yourself, or just wish there were better and genuinely original movies to watch, this is how it happens. There is nothing more righteously American than truly independent spirit—and there is nothing mort anti-American than an industry which exists in direct opposition to that. When Hollywood is the enemy of the artist, it is in turn the enemy of the free world. We must topple it—and we can.
I cannot stand here and tell you to never support Hollywood, or its output, in any way ever again—I don’t think that’s possible, or even practical. What I am telling you to do though is to at the very least support the rebellion. To root for truly independent film is to root for the United States in its purest and most beautiful form against all who wish to stifle it, foreign and domestic. Supporting this inherently American burgeoning art form is essential—and it won’t even cost you an arm and a leg to do so.
At the start of this, I mentioned a very specific amount of money as able to destroy Hollywood: two dollars. My claim may have sounded ridiculous to you, and probably still does, but I will now break down exactly how you can do it—and how it is, in fact, a kitten that can, and will, kill the lion.
First, consider what ‘two dollars’ represents. There is no piece of legal tender in American history more underrated than the two dollar bill. Though you can walk into any store that accepts cash and use it to this day, few people ever do that—and when they do, cashiers might look at it funny and not even know that it’s valid. But it’s actual money—each and every one of us can use a two dollar bill, or two dollars in general, if we want to—and use it well.
Two dollars also happens to be the lowest amount of money you can send in support of someone or some cause and it still be worth doing so after standard payment processing fees. One dollar would get sliced to practically nothing, but two dollars works. It is the smallest kitten scratch possible—but enough kitten scratches can, and will, change the world.
Two dollars, sent once a month, across an entire year, comes to 24 dollars—roughly the cost of one trip to the movies per year. In places like NYC or LA, that might be the whole ticket price—in other areas, it might be the ticket plus transportation. The point is though, let’s say you skip just one Hollywood movie a year that you probably wouldn’t even enjoy anyway, and instead send that amount of money—in whole, annually, or in a two dollar chunk each month—to my truly independent film studio, Kill The Lion Films. You might not think that’s not enough to destroy Hollywood, but it is—if just 12,782 people were to do exactly this, my studio would be funded to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars a year. Let’s say that someone wants to support us even more though, and send us 24 dollars each month instead of just once a year—roughly the cost of one trip to the movies each month. At that level of support, instead of it taking 12,782 people to fully fund my studio at a quarter of a million dollars a year, it would take just 906 people in order to do so. At either amount of supporters, we’re talking about it taking a very small amount of people in order to do this, entirely through money they would’ve just pissed away towards the corrupt Hollywood machine.
When you factor in how frugal I am, and how cost-effective truly independent filmmaking is, that quarter of a million dollars per year would mean that I would be able to make any films I could ever want to make, all year round, with no budgetary restrictions whatsoever. Ever since I started making films, I’ve had dozens and dozens of great movie ideas that I’ve never been able to do, as they’ve been just outside of my budget. I’m bursting with them—If you don’t believe me, I’m the guy who has given away literally hundreds of free, solid movie ideas off the top of my head on Twitter. The very best ones though, I keep for myself, for when I can finally afford to make them. Your support will allow me to do so, and to be fully operational as a film studio, able to set the gold standard for what is possible cinematically on a truly independent level.
This model that I have come up with is a game changer. If you want to know the future of filmmaking, it’s the end of Hollywood and the rise of truly independent film studios much like my own, funded in exactly this way. If you want better movies, if you want vast and varied filmmaking that you can be proud of, free from corporatism and authoritarianism and anti-Americanism, this is how it happens. Not every truly independent filmmaker is ready yet to operate a fully-funded studio, but I am—for more than a decade I have shown unparalleled creativity and ingenuity and frugality and responsibility, able to make quality feature films for very little money and in very short amounts of time, never losing money, always breaking even or turning a profit. I’ve shot feature-length films in less than a day before—one in ten hours, and another in just three hours. The feature-length film I shot in three hours was edited and released it in just five days, and was an hour and 43 minutes long. No one brings the mix of creativity and quality and quantity that I do—and that’s been me making films in my spare time with just sticks rubbed together. Strap a rocket to me with your support, and I’ll damn near be making movies on the moon.
It’s vitally important to the culture of the United States that great American artists of all mediums be able to create to their fullest extent, owning and making the own work, free from the shackles of an oppressive and anti-American industry that is their literal enemy. That is how we get the best art, the best movies—a true golden age of film for the first time ever, not just the illusion of one. Your support, your patronage, will make this happen—and it’s as easy and affordable as an automated two-dollar transaction each month. I’ve already set up the infrastructure for this, with no middle man like Patreon getting in the way and taking a ridiculous cut—it’s just me and Stripe, a world-class, secure payment processing service which you may not have heard of but which you use often when buying things online. I’ve been accepting support for Kill The Lion Films in this way for over a year—just a soft launch comprised of my biggest fans—and it works. It’s time to go big with this, and for me to reach my full goal, and for us to kill the lion.
Thank you for reading, and please, show your support today. Become my patron at killthelionfilms.com at whatever amount you can consistently afford. Let’s show the world what truly independent, truly American-in-spirit filmmaking is all about. I will not let you down.