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The Knick: A Convergence between Exploitation Cinema, Independent Film, and Quality TV?

STUBBS, Andrew (2017) The Knick: A Convergence between Exploitation Cinema, Independent Film, and Quality TV? In: Exploitation Cinema in the 21st Century Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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My paper takes The Knick (dir. Soderbergh, 2014) as a case study for exploring a possible convergence between exploitation cinema, independent film, and quality television in the mid-2010s.
As several scholars have outlined, a ‘quality’ iteration of independent film emerged in the 1980s, promoted by institutions like the Independent Feature Project and specialty distributors like United Artists Classics and Miramax (Newman, 2011; Tzioumakis, 2013). Defined in relation to the Hollywood mainstream, ‘quality’ independent film appeared to target a more mature and sophisticated audience. Conversely, critics described films like Blood Simple (dir. Coen, 1984) and Reservoir Dogs (dir. Tarantino, 1991), which appeared to display exploitation elements like gratuitous violence, as inauthentic independent films targeting a wider and less discerning audience. Consequently, in order to differentiate their products and protect the quality indie brand, companies and studio subsidiaries like Miramax established genre divisions like Dimension Films to release their horror and action pictures.
In the mid-2010s, there has been a migration of indie filmmakers to television, including Lena Dunham, the Duplass Brothers, and Steven Soderbergh with The Knick. Like independent film, quality television on subscription and cable channels like HBO and FX, respectively, aims to appeal to the more sophisticated niche audience. With more scripted television dramas and comedies being produced than ever before (Goodman, 09/08/2015), the independent filmmaker becomes one strategy for marketing programmes and rebranding channels like Cinemax (formerly known by the nickname ‘Skinemax’ due to its softcore porn content). Indeed, discussing branding strategies behind Cinemax and its sister company HBO, HBO miniseries president, Kary Antholis, made a comparison to Dimension and Miramax (O'Connell, 06/08/2014). Consequently, my paper analyses The Knick’s relationship to traditions of exploitation cinema, independent film, and quality television, in order to explore industrial, promotional, and cultural implications.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty: School of Computing and Digital Technologies > Film, Media and Journalism
Event Title: Exploitation Cinema in the 21st Century Canterbury Christ Church University
Event Location: Canterbury Christ Church University
Depositing User: Andrew STUBBS
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2019 16:11
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:54

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