For Ying Liang

Having just come back from a few invigorating, even exhilarating days of discussion and moviegoing at the Maryland Film Festival—which is one of the country’s leading showcases for the work of American independents—I’ve got independent filmmaking on my mind. I’ve always felt that independence is mainly a state of mind—that there’s no difference in kind between a major studio project and a movie made on video for virtually nothing. Both depend on invention and imagination; just as the studio director doesn’t deserve extra credit for the vast toolbox employed, the independent director doesn’t deserve it for the obstacles overcome in making the film. The platforms of release may be different and the bray of promotion may be vastly unequal, but no amount of money can buy good images and no admirable account of perseverance can overcome the lack of them.