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Entry from February 11, 2010

"Mumblecore” films have low budgets, unknown actors and often improvised scripts, with the actors seemingly mumbling their lines. Sound editor Eric Masunaga coined the term while at Austin’s SXSW festival in 2005; director Andrew Bujalski used the term in a May 2005 interview with indieWIRE.

Wikipedia: Mumblecore
Mumblecore is an American independent film movement that arose in the early 2000s. It is primarily characterized by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors. Filmmakers in this genre include Lynn Shelton, Andrew Bujalski, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz, Joe Swanberg, Todd Rohal, Ry Russo-Young, and Barry Jenkins.

The term “mumblecore” was coined by Eric Masunaga, a sound editor who has worked with Bujalski. Masunaga coined the term one night at a bar during the 2005 South by Southwest Film Festival, but it was Bujalski who first used it in an interview with indieWIRE. The directors of the films are sometimes referred to collectively as “mumblecorps,” as in press corps. Film journalists have also used the terms “bedhead cinema”, and “Slackavetes,” a reference to independent film director John Cassavetes.

The IFC Center in New York City exhibited a ten-film series of mumblecore films in 2007, titled “The New Talkies: Generation D.I.Y.”

New York-based Benten Films, a boutique DVD label run by film critics, has championed such mumblecore titles as Swanberg’s LOL, and Katz’s first two films: Dance Party USA and Quiet City.

Word Spy
n. An independent film genre characterized by low-budget production values, unknown actors, and a constant stream of low-key, semi-improvised dialogue.
Earliest Citation:
My new film, “Mutual Appreciation,” premiered at South by Southwest, and there was some talk there of a “movement” just because there were a bunch of performance-based films by young quasi-idealists. My sound mixer, Eric Masunaga, named the movement “mumblecore,” which is pretty catchy.
—Andrew Bujalski, “DVD RE-RUN INTERVIEW: The mumblecore Movement? Andrew Bujalski On His ‘Funny Ha Ha’,” indieWIRE, August 22, 2005

GreenCine Daily Shorts
May 2, 2005
“Mumblecore”? Leave it to a sound guy; it just might work. Context: At indieWIRE, Michael Koresky asks Funny Ha Ha director Andrew Bujalski, “Are there other directors working today with sensibilities that you find harmonize with your own in their final product?” Part of the answer: “My new film, Mutual Appreciation, premiered at South by Southwest, and there was some talk there of a ‘movement’ just because there were a bunch of performance-based films by young quasi-idealists. My sound mixer, Eric Masunaga, named the movement ‘mumblecore,’ which is pretty catchy.”

The Bujalski-sphere?
by Karina Longworth May 3rd 2005 // 11:07AM
With all of us indie-minded film bloggers foaming at the mouth over the recent release of Andrew Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha and the festival cruise of Mutual Appreciation, the blogosphere (yeah, I said it) is threatening to turn the Bujalskisphere. Here’s a sampling of the blogs that have mentioned his film(s) within just the past few days:

. GreenCine, among others, have picked up the indieWIRE interview, in which Bujalski denies allegiance to a movement called Mumblecore that may-or-may-not exist.

New York (NY) Times
A Generation Finds Its Mumble
Published: August 19, 2007
RECENT rumblings — perhaps one should say mumblings — indicate an emerging movement in American independent film. Specimens of the genre share a low-key naturalism, low-fi production values and a stream of low-volume chatter often perceived as ineloquence. Hence the name: mumblecore.
Mumblecore’s origin myth locates the watershed at the 2005 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Tex., which screened a cluster of small, superficially similar films (including “The Puffy Chair” and “Mutual Appreciation”). The filmmakers hit it off. At a bar one night Mr. Bujalski’s sound mixer, Eric Masunaga, coined the word “mumblecore.”

“It was an obnoxious name nobody liked and it was meant to be a joke,” said the director Joe Swanberg, who was at the festival that year with his first feature, “Kissing on the Mouth.” “But we haven’t been able to get rid of it.”

It was Mr. Bujalski who first publicly uttered the term in an interview with Indiewire.com. “I should apologize for that,” he said recently.

It’s only fitting that the etymology should be a point of contention, since the films in question often deal with the fraught process of identity formation. Journalists and bloggers have floated other tags, including the self-explanatory “bedhead cinema” and “Slackavettes,” in homage to the patron saint of American indie auteurs, John Cassavetes. The IFC Center series, despite using “mumblecore” in its publicity materials, is officially called “The New Talkies: Generation D.I.Y.”

New York (NY) Sun
Mumblecore Meets Grindhouse in ‘Baghead’
By STEVE DOLLAR | July 25, 2008
Though it’s doubtful anyone can really consider something called “mumblecore” an actual genre, the assortment of low-budget filmmakers making talky, intimate films on handheld video cameras (and their fans) can take great pleasure in what festival-circuit stars the Duplass brothers have achieved in “Baghead.”

Is Mumblecore a Dirty Word?
by Jen Yamato Dec 14th 2009 // 10:32PM
Chances are, if you’re reading this site, you’ve heard of the word “mumblecore.” You may have even used it in a sentence – as in, “What’s with all these mumblecore films at SXSW?” It’s a term that’s been kicking around for a few years, used by anyone but those who would be called mumblecore to describe a brand of American indie film with particular hallmarks: low budgets, improvised dialogue, twentysomethings talking at length about life and sometimes love, and non-professional actors (or those who just act like it). It seems reductive, but you know a mumblecore film when you see it.

Last week, the New York Times poured attention on what was dubbed “Planet Mumblecore” – a socially connected sphere of indie filmmaking where any small budgeted independent film of a certain type seemingly earned the label.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, February 11, 2010 • Permalink