September 9th, 2005 - Green Street Hooligans is released in 3 cities (7 screens)
I will admit that this film is goofy. The plot is absurd and much of the dialogue is cringe inducing, to say the least. In spite of that, it still holds a special place in my heart. Corny, right? I think until this point, the idea of breaking into film seemed impossible to me. To quote a Weezer song I had on repeat during the summer of ‘05, “Its something that you're born into, And I just don't belong” Thus, my attachment to this film.
What is an indie film?
According to Wikipedia, An independent film, independent movie, indie film or indie movie is a feature film that is produced outside of the major film studio system, in addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment agencies.
I would say there are two types of indie films:
The first is a film like 500 Days of Summer. Films like these are independently made, but with all the star power and a classic likable plot (not dull, but not super edgy), you can pretty much assume it will be picked up by a major studio as it makes the film festival rounds.
Then there’s a film like Napoleon Dynamite. Minor star power, ridiculous plot. You throw a film like that into the Sundance arena (especially before being weird was the new black), who knows what’s going to happen.
Green Street was closer to the second option, despite having Elijah Wood in it. (This was back before Charlie Hunnam was Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy. He was probably best known for his role in Queer as Folk.)
Green Street made the rounds at several major film festivals in late 2004 to early 2005, including SXSW, with no luck getting picked up a film studio to do the distribution. Most studios were arguing that it glorified violence, which the film does to some extend, but so do most Hollywood films...
The first place I heard about this film was on a Harry Potter fan site. Actually, I came across several post by The "Green Street Hooligans" Team on many HP and Lord of the Rings fan sites. I was a huge Lord of the Rings film fan (those films really sealed the deal on me loving movies), and, more specifically, I was an Elijah Wood fan (*cough, cough* fan girl *cough, cough*).
Let's take a moment to appreciate how brilliant a strategy this is. Not only is it brilliant, but it was FREE. Since this is 2005, Facebook and Reddit are pretty much non-existent. These groups are how info is circulating. Not only that, but your going after diehard fans. Loyal, diehard fans. Fans that still go see all 8 Harry Potter movies, in spite of the fact we had to sit through that awkward laughable scene where Daniel Radcliffe tries to cry (Daniel Radcliffe is a great cry-on-cue-er now, FYI). We sat through our beloved nerdy Hermione's hair getting blonder and blonder... Elijah Wood, HP, and LotRs fan even created a petition to bring Green Street to the states. This was just one of the reason that the Green Street team thought they would try to go it on their own:
I remember being so empowered by the above post when I saw it. This was a totally new concept to me. If you want your film to get a theatrical release, you do what you must! A great example of the cliche, "Where there's a will, there's a way."
Odd Lot also offered a special free wristband if you signed up with them for updates (another great marketing move). I, like a bunch of other fans, signed up a proudly wore that wristband. I still own it to this day and wear it occasionally (like today!) although the Green Street crest and "Stand Your Ground" phrase have faded away. I guess thats a testament to how much I wore it.
Finally, Lexi Alexander, the director of the film, also kept a blog on how the filmmaking/distribution process was going, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was even cooler that she was a female in this industry doing whatever she could to make it work. I hope one day I get to tell her what an inspiration she was.
This film grossed $48,760 (USA) in it's first week, on only 7 screens. Ultimately, it went on to earn $344,095 in the USA, had 2 other sequels made, and is a cult classic. Not bad for a movie with no big studio to back it.
If you want to watch the actual film, it can be found at this link: https://youtu.be/Vxcukqm7DNo
A few of Odd Lot's posts are actually still out there. Here's one if you want to check it out: