How I Gave Up on the Film Industry and Did What I Loved, Part 2

How I Gave Up on the Film Industry and Did What I Loved, Part 2

By Jacob Kornbluth

So there I was.  I had totally given up on my film career in LA, and gone to live in Berkeley, CA.  In trying to put together a fiction film, I had met Robert Reich and become friends with him.  Reich and I had started making short videos together, they were successful, and I had begun thinking about how to make a film about what had happened to the American economy and the Middle class.  But I had no idea where to start.

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How I Gave Up on the Film Industry and Did What I Loved, Part 1

How I Gave Up on the Film Industry and Did What I Loved, Part 1

 By Jacob Kornbluth

My first documentary, Inequality For All, opens theatrically on September 27 in the top 25 markets.  This is an extraordinary release for a doc, and I couldn’t be any more proud of the film. 

As I go from film fest to film fest, people ask me all the time – when did you get the idea for the film?  The strange but true answer is this: I got the idea for the film when I gave up on the film industry. 

 

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In Full: The Digital Recession

In Full: The Digital Recession

By Jim Cummings

In 2011, a speaker at a reputable film festival said to an audience of filmmakers, “the best part about making movies today is that anyone can make movies, and the worst part is also that anyone can make movies.” I turned to inspect the audience because I wondered, as I do still, to whom he was speaking? How could it ever be good for artisans that everyone can make art?

 

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Felicity Price on Wish You Were Here

Felicity Price on Wish You Were Here

I remember reading someplace that a good story often just falls into your lap fully formed. Now I don’t want to speculate over whether my story is a good one or not, that conjecture is now in the capable hands of film going audiences everywhere, so you can make your own decision, but that’s how it came to me – fully formed. However it still took four years to shape into a script that anyone was willing to finance.

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17 Things About The Film Biz That Should Significantly Influence Your Behavior

17 Things About The Film Biz That Should Significantly Influence Your Behavior

We launched our A2E (Artist To Entrepreneur) program at the San Francisco Film Society with OnRamp (The Direct Distribution Lab).  This is a pilot lab of a pilot program designed to give filmmakers the necessary entrepreneurial skills to achieve a sustainable creative life amidst this changing paradigm.

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Can VOD & Theatrical Exhibition Both Benefit Each Other?

by Ted Hope

Is there a model where both can further film culture, audience development, and overall cinema appreciation?  With very few critics left with a mass market soap box, where do we turn for curation?  With a global onslaught of 50,000 feature films generated per year, how do we connect with the films that are best for us?  When audiences enjoy cinema in any form, they are far more apt to engage with more film soon after?  Is there a model that leads to a a win/win for everyone?

MUBI recently announced a partnership with Picturehouse Theaters where members get 90 days free access on MUBI.  One wonders if there are similar deals to be done with online aggregators and exhibitors in the US…

Our community theaters are just one of the curators we have in this country for cinema culture.  Film Societies, like the San Francisco FIlm Society and Lincoln Center, also help develop audiences and advance the dialogue.  Critics, blogs, friends and family, all help with discovery, recognition and appreciation.  Yet in a world with a plethora of leisure time options, it’s critical for one’s love of an art form to run deep if it is to become habitual — which our industry and business models currently require.  Discovering and enjoying great cinema goes a long, long way to building a long term relationship.

I have to think that there is something to be said about getting access to great classic cinema alongside a membership into an organization that gives you access to the latest of world and arthouse cinema.  Of course, the level of each would have to line up well.

What else would help this model work well?

12 Questions Toward The Future Of Film Festivals

12 Questions Toward The Future Of Film Festivals

by Ted Hope

On December 2, SFFS Executive Director Ted Hope gave the following keynote address at the International Film Festival Summit in Austin, Texas.

Thank you for inviting me into your community. I have been in the film business for close to 30 years now – but it is as if I lived on the other side of a wall from you. I had one vision of what it took to put on festivals, but that was just a pale shadow of the brutal reality I have come to face in my two months on the job at the San Francisco Film Society. It’s hard work running a film festival! If any of you have played my films over the years and I didn’t bestow flowers and thanks on you, please line up at the end of this talk and you can slap my hand, twice! I owe you guys!

I like to think the kind invite to speak today, though, is symbolic of us crashing down that wall, and the start of a new era – but then I have always been a tad grandiose… I mean, I did get drawn into this show business thing, after all.

Today, I think we all come for answers, but I have to warn you: my search for those answers has only led me to more questions. Those are the gifts I have to share after two months on the job as the Executive Director of The San Francisco Film Society. Questions that come from looking at our film culture and wondering how we can serve it best.

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Is Our Film Culture Designed to Create Corporate Hucksters?

Is Our Film Culture Designed to Create Corporate Hucksters?

by Ted Hope

Sometimes it serves us to let our dark paranoia run rampant.  I have always had a love affair with conspiracy theories, but it is one of longing more than indulgence.  If only governments and people in general cared enough about other people to actually strategize to the extent needed to control things to the level most conspiracy theories fantasize.  But maybe instead of politics and community being the focus, the conspiracies exist in the pursuit of profit.  Sometimes looking at the result of business structures as their intent instead of their coincidental effect sheds further light on a complicated situation.

We all know that there is a substantial flaw to our film infrastructure: artists and their supporters are not rewarded for the work they generate.  I speak of this as a problem.  If the industry actually tried to make sure that the people who made the work benefited from the work, we’d have more money in the system, and it would probably be smarter money (that knew enough to let the filmmakers have creative control — or at least more of it) at that.  But all evidence points to the fact that the film industry wants to prevent creators from financially benefiting from their work.  We can change that (and I am going to try), but that’s for another post about why I have chosen to work for a not-for-profit.

Let’s let our dark side work for us for a moment:  if the model is not broken, but actually works, what is it trying to do?  Why would the film business not want creators to benefit?Read More

Don't Hide. Declare You Are Here & Plan to F*ck Sh*t Up

Don't Hide. Declare You Are Here & Plan to F*ck Sh*t Up

by Ted Hope

And I mean that with all the love I have for the world.

Let’s be frank:

  • You want to get your movie made.
  • You want to live a creative life.
  • You want to give voice to the unspoken and the underheard. 
  • You know you can do it — if only you get a chance.

What are you waiting for?  Don’t ask for permission. Don’t wait to be discovered.  And don’t expect to get any help.  Who needs it?

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Five Reasons I Have NEW Hope For Film

The last seven days have done a good job convincing me we can build this world a whole lot better and that we have the passion and know-how to keep an ambitious and diverse film culture from falling into ruin.  I have been doing some meetings, going to events, meeting folks — the days are long, but the inspiration has been great.  It does so much good to observe things done well and I gathered quite of few as of late.

The documentary world has knit together a series of alliances, models, forums, and structures that the fiction film world should really take note of.  When the sun was setting today, and I was recognizing that it was such a inspiration-filled last few days, a dark shadow past over when I realized much of that uplift was from another form.  That’s not a bad thing really.  It’s nice to have role models.  Indie filmmakers the world over should thank their documentary siblings for all they have given us.

What inspired me (and in no particular order)?​

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