Blockbuster king Dean Devlin founds a new webzine devoted to movies with tiny budgets

By Josh Wolk
April 06, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

When you think independent film, you probably conjure up images of minuscule budgets, moody black-and-white imagery…and giant computer-generated spaceships bent on destroying the world? Believe it or not, writer-producer Dean Devlin (”Godzilla,” ”Independence Day”) is one of indie film’s biggest cheerleaders, even if the cost of just the mutant lizard’s left leg could fund six ”Sling Blade”s.

Devlin’s company, Centropolis (which he runs with his partner, director Roland Emmerich), has launched a Web magazine, iF, devoted entirely to cutting-edge, bootstrap filmmaking that’s galaxies away from his own sci-fi blockbusters, which he compares to hot dogs. ”You have to support independent filmmaking because eating hot dogs all the time will kill you,” Devlin tells EW Online. ”There’s nothing wrong with a really great hot dog when you want one, and we’re proud to make really great hot dogs. But you need a balance. Every once in a while you need a great steak.”

Devlin does feel a certain kinship with these filet mignon indie directors. Oh, he may not be dodging creditors or begging for enough cash to buy an extra canister of film, but his resume includes, he says, ”the most expensive independent movie of all time, (the 1994 interplanetary adventure) ‘Stargate,’ which was financed completely independently.” Plus, Centropolis cosponsored Sundance for three years.

The site features reviews of new and classic fringe films, how-to guides to filmmaking, and interviews with directors ranging from Robert Altman to Myles Berkowitz (”20 Dates”). But this cybertribute to low-budget productions doesn’t mean that the ”ID4” team is considering scaling back their own projects. The pair’s next collaboration, which Devlin is producing, is the Revolutionary War drama ”The Patriot,” starring Mel Gibson with a script by Robert Rodat (”Saving Private Ryan”).

And Centropolis’ respect for the giant Hollywood spectacle is still evident in its other webzine, eon, a two-year-old project that specializes in coverage of glitzier, pricier sci-fi and fantasy fare like ”The Matrix” and ”The Phantom Menace.” Of course, you can’t cover Hollywood product without touching on Devlin’s own behemoths, something he says he’s proud that the webzine does objectively, since he has removed himself from the editorial process. But did his writers keep their integrity even after the release of last summer’s floundering ”Godzilla”? ”Oh yeah,” Devlin laughs. ”They were not kind.”