Our Indie Infrastructure Limits The Menu Of Our Content Consumption

Not only are you what you eat, you are what is on the menu.  It’s not just what sells that people buy, it is what is sold.  The March Hare Syndrome indicates people don’t demand the truly tasty until it is delivered to them.  Market forces are not the be-all or end-all – a little intervention can be a game-changer.

If you want movies to be able to change the world, sometimes you have to change the world first.  In pivoting the film infrastructure from a mass-market focus to that which can serve niche audiences, we have to observe who it is that is setting the menu.  Not much of a surprise there really, it is once again the Old White Guys (and yes, I am one).

Film will – thankfully -- always be a passion industry.  People work on what they like.  Yes, money and profit drive behavior more than people or promise, but taste is still a deep influencer.  When a major demographic is the predominate decision-maker on what is brought to market, we get a limited diet.  The curators for the end-users are only provided a limited set of ingredients to cook with.  Who green lights?  Who chooses what to offer to foreign buyers?  Who represents the film to US buyers?

Sure, there are many exceptions, but for the most part, it is the Old White Men at every step of the chain that drive the decision making on what gets made and sold.  We need to actively recruit a far more diversified decision making team if we want to be able to stop trying to sell our work to everybody and instead try to bring it to the special somebody that will respond most positively.

When a fraction of the population cares about film, and a fraction of that cares about specialized films, AND we have a surplus of content competing for the forever more limited attention of the film-loving community, the emphasis should shift from reaching everyone to hyper-targeting the right people.  The beauty of this shift will be a more diversified stream of work will be able to find success in the marketplace, even if it may not have mass impact.   Yet, before this change will come, we have to first change who sets the menu.

Okay, I don’t have hard data on this, and there are many, many exceptions, but I feel it to be generally true: women like different films from men, and people from different backgrounds like different things too.  Race, class, orientation, creed, and gender influence our taste.  Granted, great art unites us all, and all art crosses boundaries in a way that even a passport can not provide.  Yet, if we want to diversify our offerings, we have to diversify who makes the decisions and who encourages others to make decisions.

I’d find it really interesting to look at the catalogues of the sales companies that are owned and operated by women vs those that are done so by men.  It is often said that urban (i.e. African-American & ethnic) films don’t travel, yet race does not seem to be any issue in music.  Why is that?  There are certainly a wide number of executives of color in the music world, but still very few in the film world.  I was taught to love sushi by a chef who patiently worked to expand my palate.   If the same people set the menu tomorrow as the ones from yesterday, our tastes won’t change.

To shift our industry from mass market to niche, we have to change who sells and who buys.  Yes, we have to provide opportunity to artists of diverse backgrounds, and we have to make sure they have the proper support, but change is not always obvious either.  Opportunity is never the same as outcome.  Influence, and even revolution, can be subtle.

Capital that wants to facilitate necessary evolution would be wise to look closer at the keepers of supply and demand.

How VOD Changes The Whole Film Landscape

It a big question (how VOD is changing the film landscape), but we already see the answers starting to unfold. As the lovers of cinema recognize they can access anything anywhere anytime, and the captains of industry in the culture strands accept their business is one of infinite choice, everyone becomes more desperate for the curators and filters that help connect us with what we will enjoy most.

Film culture diversifies further into various event programing that includes both blockbusters and traditional geo-specific festivals, and all the various forms of electronic transmission, both in a solitary passive viewing mode, and in a more social active form.

This all access world of super-abundance will increase the value of alternative forms, beyond the feature film, whether they are to maintain engagement or deliver a more immersive experience. I think it can't help but lead artists and those who support them to recognize the value in maintaining ownership of their work and opting for short term licenses to specific platforms.

This is part of an interview I gave OnDemand Weekly upon accepting the Executive Director position at The San Francisco Film Society.  Read all of it right here.

How Can Women Gain Influence in Hollywood?

I wrote my first piece for the NY Times the other day -- and it's up now! I was fortunate enough to be asked to be the lone male voice in the "Room For Debate" on How Can Women Gain Influence In Hollywood. It's an excellent discussion and a great group of commentators. It's also a question that action is not taken on enough. My piece begins:

Mainstream mass-market film culture is stuck in a deep rut. When making money is the top priority, people produce work and hire people who keep them in power. Call it risk mitigation or cowardice, the lack of women in Hollywood comes from the same root.

Industries are like people: they change only when the pain of the present outweighs the fear of the future. The stakes may be too great for Hollywood to ever accept that audiences and communities want something other than what they have already had. If audiences continue to behave like the March Hare in “Alice in Wonderland,” confusing "I like what I get" for “I get what I like,” neither films nor the entities that produce them will evolve.

Leadership is required to recognize that “When Harry Met Sally,” "Bridesmaids" and "Lost in Translation" are not outliers, but clear indicators of vast communities of underserved audiences. Unfortunately, the movie industry is designed to follow the competitor, creating perpetually redundant stories, creators and executives. The entire film business remains predicated on antiquated concepts of scarcity of content and control thereof. It should instead get ambitious and start to redesign itself for today’s reality of super-abundance of — and total access to — hugely varied content.

Please read the rest of it here.  And read all the pieces.

Read The Press About My New Job

Okay, read it if you want to.  I don't want to make any demands.  There are some more important things to do -- I understand.  I just needed to get all the press together in one place.  I wanted to send it to my Mom.  So here it is.  I am sure I am missing some, so let me know if you find any more.

Don't want to overwhelm anyone, but since there's been so much demand....

Media Decoder – NY Times Blog (Michael Cieply)



Variety (Dave McNary)


The Hollywood Reporter (Tatiana Siegel)



Indiewire (Peter Knegt)



Thompson on Hollywood (Anne Thompson)



Thompson on Hollywood (Anne Thompson)



Deadline (Mike Fleming)



The Wrap (Steve Pond)



The Wrap (Steve Pond)



Movieline (Brian Brooks)



Screen Daily (Jeremy Kay)



Real Screen (Kevin Ritchie)



Movie City News (Ray Pride)



We Are Movie Geeks (Michelle McCue)



Filmmaker Magazine (Scott Macaulay)



Film Sociey of Lincoln Center Blog (Eugene Hernandez)



Keyframe (David Hudson)



Film Festival Today (Sandy Mandelberger)



Awards Circuit (Terence Johnson)



Chicago Tribune (William Pfaff)



Arthouse Convergence Blog 



San Francisco Chronicle (Pam Grady)



KQED News (Cy Musiker)



7x7 Magazine (Jackson Scarlett)



Pixel Vision – San Francisco Bay Guardian Blog (Cheryl Eddy)



SFist (Andrew Dalton)



Film Leaf (Chris Knipp)



San Francisco Chronicle (correction)



It All Begins Somewhere

I went to NYU Film Undergrad with the idea I was going to be a director. I got a scholarship, and the school encouraged me, but I felt that my destiny as a director was to be but a hack. I could get things going, but I was just regurgitating others' ideas (ah, if only that was enough to stop most...). Sure, imitation is a path to learning, but I was impatient too. If I couldn't be brilliant, I at least wanted to be around brilliance. I pivoted.

Although I loved editing, in the years BA (Before AVID), the road to cutting was organizing trims and I wanted a hell of a lot more action than that. Three years of being a PA though didn't get me any closer to the art department -- which was plan #3.

I had strong opinions though, and was no more in agreement with the way my jobs were organized than I was about the scripts. I could see people needed some help when it came to producing. Unfortunately, no one seemed interested in promoting me from the bottom right to the top. Nonetheless, Life Plan #4 (which really was FILM Life Plan #4 -- as politician, community organizer, labor leader, rebel rouser & agitator had already been contemplated) was born.

So I formed my first company. Here's the letterhead, recently fished out of the recycling. I already had the idea of a no-budget film fund. I had the list of my initial directors -- which included Hal Hartley, Nicole Holofcener, Ang Lee, and Kelly Reichardt. I hadn't yet met James Schamus. I was using "Bella Machina" as a mailing label to the various nut job newsletters I subscribed to, but there wasn't yet a Good Machine.

Luckily I never incorporated "Aberrant Films" and wasted some cash on taxes. But that stationary gave me confidence to say I was a producer. And it was cheaper than business cards. I only had to sneak on over to the photocopier in a pal's office, and viola! I was legit.

Is There A Possibility For Brand & Content Collaboration?

Can we move beyond product placement for a collaboration between those that fund the production and those that create stories?  Can it be done without compromising the integrity of the work.  Steve Wax and I wrote a blog discussion about this last year and I recently stumbled across this video of Steve and I.




This June COLLABORATOR will have two special screenings here in New York City before its July theatrical release. The first is June 18th at the IFC center, and the second is on June 19th at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. Hal Hartley will be there to present on the 18th, and Martin Donovan, David Morse, and Ted Hope will be there to answer your questions on both nights.

June 18th IFC Center 7pm Buy tickets online.

June 19th Museum of the Moving Image Buy tickets online.

Find out more about Collaborator on Prescreen.

Collaborator premiered at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, winning several awards including best actor for David Morse.

Read director, writer, and star, Martin Donovan's thoughts on creating Collaborator.

Check out Collaborator's Facebook page, and find more information about the film and its upcoming release from Tribeca Film on VOD, iTunes, Amazon, VUDU on June 19th here.

And read about previous coverage of Collaborator on Hopeforfilm here, here, and here

Office Hours: Hope & Vachon's Killer/Hope Twitter Q&A

This past Tuesday Christine Vachon and I did a Twitter Q&A. For one hour we answered whatever questions the community put forth. We tracked them under the unifying hastag: #KHQA (which also happened to be a radio station's call letters, but...). These sort of Twitter meet ups are not only a lot of fun but a great way to connect and share info. I think it should become standard operating procedure for any filmmaker who premieres a film or is about to. They can also then be repurposed into a blog post so it keeps generating new content!

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- TONIGHT-- Ted Hope and I answering your questions from 8pm to 9pm EST here on twitter!
-- Tonight's hashtag for Ted Hope and me is : #KHQA

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- Tonight's Twitter Q&A w me & Christine Vachon @kvpi will be using #KHQA Tweet in at 8P Eastern.
-- 30 min countdown to the 1st ever Killer / Hope Twitter Q&A. Join me and Christine Vachon on #KVQA
-- Oops. Typo on my hashtag. THe Killer Hope Q&A is actually #KHQA and not what I just typed on the last tweet...

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @TedHope are you tweeting under the influence???? you mean #KHQA!!!

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @kvpi Right you are. Not about the TWI but about the mashed hash tag. It is #KHQA. 17 minutes and counting...

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- ted is using 2 screens (I only have one computer) so I will be slower-- sorry in advance--#KHQA

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- What if you threw a twitter Q&A and no one asked a question? 6 min until @kvpi find out! #KHQA

@Swishpan (varda the message) -- @kvpi Can we submit questions now?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Swishpan starting...now!

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi Too early to post a Q? Is there still a market for an indie film that is not integrated into a transmedia platform?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 A market yes? In fact, #Sundance is that this month. But w so many films I wonder a just-a-movie gets discovered unless they've got $
-- Okay the Q&A has started

@Armakk (Randy Mack) -- @TedHope SUPER made me think "Yup, this is definitely how a real Batman would play out. And hence nobody trying to film this before."

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- Yes, SUPER had some of the greatest cinema moments of 2012.

@kingisafink (King and Keck) -- Who's in for the @TedHope / @kvpi Q&A?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @kingisafink @kvpi We are!

@JJoshua_Johnson (Jonathan J. Johnson) -- Is it at all possible to see more $500k indie films, well developed, with both seasoned and new producers, and new talent, per year?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @JJoshua_Johnson absolutely-- we're making several right now--

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JJoshua_Johnson see? as in screen or have more made? The trick for most is how to earn a living at that budget

@JJoshua_Johnson (Jonathan J. Johnson) -- @TedHope @kvpi See them made. Making a living is always the trick. Somehow it seems there is a sweet spot in there somewhere. Thanks!

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @JJoshua_Johnson @TedHope agreed

@brianjude (Brian Jude) -- @TedHope @kvpi Where else can one go for development funds when personal connections/crowdfunding seem to have been exhausted?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @brianjude I spend years developing financing contacts. The trick is how to supply deal flow so you educate them

@passerbyco (Passerby.Co) -- @TedHope @kvpi Better indie film scene: NY or LA?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @passerbyco What's "better"? just different. LA has to be in Hollywood's shadow whereas NY is the unwanted orphan

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @passerbyco @TedHope I think both are good but LA getting more interesting--

@Swishpan (vardathemessage) -- Varda the Message asks @kvpi who/where was your 1st rock concert in nyc? best concert? Thanks for fab music films! Keep making them!

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Swishpan best concert-- clash at BOND'S (6 times!)
-- @Swishpan first concert: AMERICA in central park!

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi So, is a project with a sort of "transmedia development plan" more likely to get a prod co interested?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 @kvpi for a budget below $5M & w/o financing, I ONLY want to consider one with a transmedia plan

@FalseCheese (False Cheese) -- @TedHope What would be an artist's best bet in getting work in a film's art dept? Is sending a portfolio to a prod co advisable?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @FalseCheese Yeah I think having a great portfolio AND great connections is best to get on art dept. It's what I wanted 2do but had neither!

@averagejenn (Jennifer Liao) -- Paying personnel fairly & not breaking budget: Can it actually be better to budget more days rather than know there will be crazy OT?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @averagejenn but the problem often is the financier won't approve a budget that way. People blv you'll hit OT no matter what

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @averagejenn yes-- if you have the choice-- problem is the bond co often holds you to the fewer days scenario)

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi How do you structure a team to dev a project that is anchored in film and "grows" in diff directions in multiple media ?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 It's a lifelong process: surround yrself w good ppl talentd in many varied fields & sharing ideas & being willing to brainstorm

@tanktv (tank.tv) -- @TedHope @jcle1 @kvpi might sourd stupid here but what is a transledia dvpt plan

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @tanktv Transmedia development plan= how to extend story world to different platforms & forms of engagement byd core

@averagejenn (Jennifer Liao) -- @kvpi @TedHope Thank you both! Follow up: Is there anything novices overlook in what crew most appreciate when working low budget?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @averagejenn Respect, preperation, organztn, good food, good examples & leadership, personal sacrifice, sense of humor, quality

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi What role does potential global mkt/media exploitation play in your decisions to dev/prod a project? What are key terr for u?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 I do my own P&L and foreign estimates; compare vs. "experts" -- US & the six major territories are key always

@AquariusFilmsOz (AquariusFilms) -- @TedHope @tanktv What are some good examples of excellent transmedia models for film Ted and Christine? To use as case studies

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @AquariusFilmsOz @tanktv True, we need good transmedia models and beyond TV they are few& far betwn

@cinemamusings (Cinema Musings) -- Your best advice for a producer bringing their first film to a festival.

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @cinemamusings which festival? important to set your goals, know who your audience will be there--

@myjumpsuit (Cort Johns) -- Have you looked at the reworked 2012 Michigan film incentives?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @myjumpsuit Briefly. Shame that minimum was raised but glad they brought back. Tax incentives are job stimuli

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @myjumpsuit no-- can you give us all an outline?

@WZRichard (Zack Richard) -- @TedHope Any advice for a DP looking to shoot bigger budget indie features? Just bought an EPIC.

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @WZRichard Buying an EPIC is a great start. Where are you located? I am sure there are filmmkrs who need a DP!

@WZRichard (Zack Richard) -- @TedHope I'm in NY.

@reelclever (reelclever.com) -- What are 3 main questions a filmmaker should ask when looking to attach a producer to their film project? How to choose right one?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @reelclever 1) Do they want to make the same movie as me; 2) Can we eat dinner together & grow; 3) Can they make it happen

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @reelclever make sure you both want to make the same film first and foremost--

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi Can you envision a time when you'd anchor a project on the INternet (webisode/stream) and use other media as ancillary?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 @kvpi Absolutely. Both @kvpi & I are platform, budget, genre agnostic

@Armakk (Randy Mack) -- @TedHope @kvpi My concern: directors will "cut the corner" to marketing, create films around hype/controversy/etc & those'll dominate

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Armakk @TedHope the real filmmakers won't-- and audiences really want authenticity

@JJoshua_Johnson (Jonathan J. Johnson) -- @kvpi @TedHope Audiences, esp online, seem to be increasingly content hungry. Can't get enough. Could reward prolific indie producers.

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JJoshua_Johnson @kvpi But are audiences willing to pay for great content or even good content? I think so if they respect creator

@myjumpsuit (Cort Johns) -- What's the best no-name approach to fundraising?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @myjumpsuit I think crime & bribery are great fundraising approaches as long as no one gets hurt or finds out

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @myjumpsuit be more specific

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @kvpi what was the most difficult decision you had to make on a film?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @TedHope always when to walk away
-- @TedHope what's yours?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @kvpi My most difficults were firing actors, putting an actor in rehab, calling Health Dept about hepatitis outbreak

@Christina8ryant (Christina L Bryant) -- @TedHope @kvpi Emerging writer w/ list of SW labs/contests to enter, but looking at past winners, all loglines sound same. Thoughts?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @Christina8ryant Orgs generally support artists like the others that succeeded. Best to always differentiate yourself. but may not win

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi What's the most amount of time you put into a project before you abandoned it

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @JCle1 @TedHope Boys Don't Cry had 7 years, Savage Grace almost 15-- we don't abandon, we just pull back!

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 I like to see ppl stick it to the pricks & never give up

@AquariusFilmsOz (AquariusFilms) -- @TedHope @JCle1 @kvpi But aren't revenues generally higher from other platforms for indie films?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @AquariusFilmsOz @JCle1 @kvpi Yes theatrical is generally a loss leader and ego builder

@averagejenn (Jennifer Liao) -- @kvpi @TedHope Really enjoying this Q&A! How do you gauge the readiness of the script? External reads, mutual agreement among team?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @averagejenn @TedHope unless its very high concept I say script necc

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @averagejenn To get financing, you MUST make it "feel" inevitable. Script goes a long way + image book + attachments + projections

@kingisafink (King and Keck) -- QUESTION: What's more valuable for screenwriters: getting agent/manager OR getting screenplay produced on an indie level?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @kingisafink obviously getting a (good) screenplay produced!

@Rebeckakaka (Rebecka Pitman) -- For an aspiring producer about to graduate. What is the best way to learn the film industry? internship or make independent films?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @Rebeckakaka Jump in and do it. Don't ask permission. Always b student learning. B prolific. Ask how 2 stay motivated despite haters

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Rebeckakaka ha-- both! you can't REALLY learn the biz till you are in it, film school is a fake place for a producer-

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi Do you think there are themes/ideas you care about personally that come through ea of your projects? If so, what?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 Mostly I like stories that have emotional truth and take me somewhere I cant get on my own
-- @JCle1 I love stories that make me care about someone I don't think I hv much in common w

@kingisafink (King and Keck) -- @kvpi Thanks so much for answering my question! Do producers watch other ppl's work, approach writers based on produced work?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @kingisafink absolutely-- all the time!

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi Is it easier to pick projects since you've gained some success (and $$) or more difficult?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 "easier?" I have made so many commitments I rejoice when I have the space to take on something new

@passerbyco (Passerby.Co) -- @TedHope @kvpi Biggest risk you've taken in your career (and outcome)?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @passerbyco @TedHope I have taken so so many-- taking some as we speak! 1st time directors, unknown actors- DPs/PDs on their first gigs..

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @passerbyco Biggest risks? Each movie is a testament of faith in artist & humankind in general
-- @kvpi @passerbyco Even taking on rent and employees is a risk in this time of economic collapse!
-- @passerbyco Each film is a five year minimum commitment (often MUCH longer) & world could end b4
-- @passerbyco But I have claimed several times I could do things I did not know how to do in order to get the opportunity

@ Swishpan (vardathemessage) -- @kvpi I still regret missing Clash at BONDS!

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Swishpan yeah, it was pretty awesome...

@AquariusFilmsOz (AquariusFilms) -- @TedHope @kvpi @passerbyco How do you keep the costs down but still keep up with the workload?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @AquariusFilmsOz @kvpi @passerbyco Yeah, that's the challenge: job description increase tenfold. Billfold reduces 10x further!

@Armakk (Randy Mack) -- @TedHope @kvpi What're the most common mistakes in thinking you've seen in young/new producers lately?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Armakk @TedHope that theatrical is the holy grail and only thing worth making

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @Armakk Common new producer mistake? Not collaborating w many, not staying prolific, not increasing skill set, not audience bldg

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi What would you say are the key successes of your particular business model? Creatively, financially, operationally?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 I try to make sure that I love what I do, whom I am doing it with, how I am doing it, & the terms I am doing it under

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @JCle1 @TedHope I don't HAVE a particular biz model-- different one for every movie!

@myjumpsuit (Cort Johns) -- @kvpi What did you learn producing Hedwig and Velvet Goldmine?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @myjumpsuit how FUN it is to make music driven movies-- still love doing them, LCD Soundsystem movie at sundance this year

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi Better ... what do you find are the key challenges to raising financing NOW and how are you addressing those

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 Financiers & collaborators are risk adverse. What gets funded easiest is not what I want to invest my time in

@Groovyfokker (David Hughes) -- @tedhope @kvla If you had a Martha Marcy May Marlene-style script (The Bends) but no ambition to direct, who should you point it at?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @Groovyfokker I would definitely give it to Sean Durkin, Antonio Campos, & Josh Mond. Or Michael Heneke

@Groovyfokker (David Hughes) -- I've optioned an unproduced Peckinpah script, 40 years old but with many modern themes, and low budget. How do I go about casting it?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @Groovyfokker Even great projects need 2hv a coalition behind em. Get ppl to recognize it's greatness first. You can only reveal once

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Groovyfokker if its a great script it won't be hard

@passerbyco (Passerby.Co) -- @TedHope @kvpi Who helped you launch your careers? Key early mentor or moment?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @passerbyco closest to a mentor was Jill Godmilow. Lindsay Law was great help. But the directors are who launched my career

@kingisafink (King and Keck) -- @TedHope: enjoyed yr talk at @FlywayFilmFest, yr mention of The Bible as greatest #transmedia idea ever. Question...

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- Thanks @kingisafink @FlywayFilmFest Thanks 4 reminding me that The Bible as greatest #transmedia idea ever

@myjumpsuit (Cort Johns) -- @TedHope @kvpi what are your feelings about seasoned producers lending their name to up&coming producers?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @myjumpsuit we do it a lot IF we like the movie. I think its a great way to help each other--

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @myjumpsuit "lending" name diminishes everyone. Either be in or not at all I feel

@kingisafink (King and Keck) -- @TedHope QUESTION: How involved are u w/ transmedia for yr projcts? Do u bring in experts / ppl w/ good transmedia track record?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @kingisafink I am working with @LanceWeiler on one. Is he an expert?

@grking (Gary King) -- @kvpi @TedHope what are some of your favorite film fests that you like to attend?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @grking sundance of course--- love venice and sarajevo--

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @grking I like film festivals best when they have cultivated a real community w artists & audiences

@ Swishpan (vardathemessage) -- @kvpi @myjumpsuit And to have made a must-see rite of passage for teens! If it's ok, can you tell us if G has seen Hedwig and/or VG?

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- @Swishpan she's seen hedwig-- not VG yet--

@averagejenn (Jennifer Liao) -- @kvpi @TedHope Really enjoying this Q&A! How do you gauge the readiness of the script? External reads, mutual agreement among team?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @averagejenn script is ready when the director can answer all of my questions. when it is true.

@JCle1 (Just J) -- @TedHope @kvpi Just curious ... Why did you each want to do this Q&A?

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- @JCle1 @kvpi did this Q&A for those that could not attend our masterclass & because ppl give us so much. People need answers

@TedHope (Ted Hope) -- Thanks to all for joining the Q&A with @kvpi and me. It was fun and hopefully helpful. Let's do it again sometime! Gotta go

@KVPI (Christine Vachon) -- thank you for participating!

The Really Good Things In Indie Film Biz 2011

2011 was a bit of a year of experimentation for me -- and I imagine it was for all others who state they are in the Film Business. How could it not be? Evolve or die it seems, doesn't it?

I didn't produce a movie this past year, but I did premiere three. I managed to blog on a regular basis, and offer up my "column" as a soapbox for many others, hoping it would inspire more action and change from the community at large (the results still remain to be seen). I also did a lot of public speaking and consulting all over the world in 2011, telling myself that all of this was part of my personal attempt to move things forward towards a vibrant, diverse, and ambitious culture open to all who are willing to take responsibility for it. I taught at NYU for the same reasons, but remain unclear as to the results of any of these endeavors. Maybe it was more of a survival tactic or some sort of self-justification. After all, what I really want to do is... make films. It's what I think I am particularly good at, particularly when the broadest definition of both "making" and "films" is applied (i.e. the discovery, contextualizing, and deployment) -- yet as much as I try to keep a broad perspective, I am still a bit confounded as to why it is so damn hard to get good work made or even appreciated.

People still seem to love movies, even those folks who have not committed their labor and life to the manufacture and appreciation of them. Yet they really aren't going to them any more. And the people who earn their livelihood from the industry that facilitates flicks don't profess the concern that permeates my being. Oh well. Maybe it's just their ability to see the bright side. I see it too. And I know there's a great deal to be thankful for. I have a lot of resolutions for the new year and one of them is to focus less on what is wrong and more on what makes life worth living.

Today, being the day that the film business returns to work, it seems fitting to focus on the positive. If I had more time to give, I'd rough out more of each of these ideas, but alas, this ain't that world. So perhaps you could fill in these paragraphs below and we can write the final version together. 2012 will be the year of collaboration (won't it?).

1. 2011 Was The Year That Crowdfunding Took Off
     1. Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act (H.R.2930) was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this November.
     2. Films readily surpassed their goals.
     3. Many exceeded $100K
2. The Rise Of The Artist Entrepreneur
     1. And media starts to notice
3. Festivals Recognize That Serving The Filmmaker Means More Than Showing Their Film
     1. Sundance's Artist Services
     2. Tribeca Is A Distributor (Profit motive aside)
4. Micro Went Macro
     1. MMMM, Another Earth, Like Crazy, Take Shelter, Weekend, Bill Cunningham
          1. Films made for pennies reach significant audiences in US & get real attention
5. The Community Theaters Triumph & The Art House Convergence Is An Institution
     1. Theaters are more than just a movie house, but a community center
     2. Value of movie attendance is beyond entertainment
     3. Art House Convergence will have over 250 bookers of indie theaters 
6. The Conversation Of The Future Of Film Takes Hold 
     1. Tribeca, NYU, Columbia w Lance Weiler
7. VOD Starts To Deliver Real Numbers
     1. Margin Call makes $4M VOD while Day & Date
          1. With simultaneous web streaming in addition to cable
8. Direct Distribution Is A Viable Alternative
     1. Kevin Smith, Eddie BurnsLouis CK, Producers Distro Agency
9. Filmmakers don't rely on Theatrical
     1. Ed Burns skips theatrical on both Nice Guy Johnny & Newlyweds
          1. AND: makes a real profit
     2. Kevin Smith's road show
10. Art Film Sensibilities Embrace Horror Genre
     1. Martha Marcy May Marlene, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Skin I Live In, The Innkeepers, and others I have not yet seen.
11. Plethora of Platforms
     1. 34 and counting
     2. Personalized VOD Players: Distrify, DIY, Dynamo
12. Cord Cutting becomes common place
     1. Levels the playing field for indies as Cable providers rarely acquired truly indie content
13. Tax Credits & Film Incentives are not going away (as we recognize they are job/revenue stimulus)
     1. http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577_57657-267901--,00.html
     2. New York State's production at high levels
14. Tons of new films stars with tremendous talent have not only arrived on the scene, but have been noticed.
15. The Dominance of the feature film form is starting to end...

My Best Cinema Experiences of 2011

The end of the year has become a bit overwhelming in terms of "Best Of" lists. We evaluate things so much in terms of quality (or at least attempt to), but I hear very few people speak of true pleasure. Quality and pleasure often are not the same, but these end of the year list camouflage that a bit. We don't go to or watch movies just because they are good. We love films because they are fun -- and it's never just the content that makes the experience so great. It's the company and the context.

What was the most joyous experience of the year for you, for me? Since this blog is really only about film, I am going to have to leave out most of what's on my more expansive list (and after all that stuff is still a private matter, isn't it?), and instead focus only most on my most joyous cinema experiences of 2011 -- and for that matter experiences that didn't involve my own movies (as the festival premieres of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, COLLABORATOR, and DARK HORSE were all pretty damn wonderful). It's a pleasure to do so in that remembering, recognizing, bring it all back and more so.

THE SKIN I LIVE IN: My wife and I saw SKIN in Karlovy Vary, which has to be one of the loveliest places to screen a film. If you have a chance to go, don't delay. It's a spa town, nestled in a valley, with a wonderful hotel, and an extremely well-curated selection. The main theater there is huge -- I think 4000 seats but I am not sure. The screen is colossal none the less. Gigantic. And the people love movies; students camp out in the hills to attend screenings all week. SKIN was a hard ticket to get, even with a festival pass. I begged for days, succeeded, but then got confused on the time and we almost missed it. It was hot that day, very. We ran along the river through crowds of tourists and the only seats were on the floor up front. The kinkiest film that Hitchcock never made loomed above us as we caught our breath and tried to cool down. Each twist and turn above us was a total surprise. I was appalled in the best way on a regular basis. And when the leopard scene occurred, well, very few films ever blow my mind but Pedro does constantly. I can think of no other filmmaker who has been such a pleasure to watch him become a true master. When Vanessa and I left the theater we couldn't stop talking about it., As much as I loved the movie, I loved far more that I had someone to share it with who felt so much like I did, and that we had experienced it together in such an over the top way.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: My son and I saw APES opening weekend. We've seen all the Planet of The Apes films -- except the Tim Burton one because I thought it sucked. But we've only seen them on video. When I was a boy I collected the Planet Of The Apes cards with my dad, in anticipation of seeing it together, but due to complications, that never happened. My expectations for this one were pretty low, due to Burton's debacle. Low expectations helps everything always and the movie soared well beyond my measly expectations. Andy Serkis' turn is one of my fave of the year, and drew me into that movie like few this year. The bridge sequence captures what I imagine the exhilaration of revolution to be (along with the humor of the stupidity of mankind that is always fun to be reminded of). But the real pleasure of movies is always social, and just hearing my son say how much he enjoyed it, helped me recognize how much I have enjoyed sharing so much with him. In many ways, the movie completed a circle for me that I had not yet recognized wasn't closed.

WITHOUT: There are a few people who did an awesome job tipping me to under-appreciated films this year, but primarily Kim Voynar (who sent five or so great works to me) and Michael Tully, who via Hammer To Nail does so regularly. I think it was Kim who recommended Mark Jackson's WITHOUT to me though. I watched it alone, in my apartment, with no real context of what was to come. I have a HD projector that fills one wall in our apartment so the image towers over me when I watch. It was summer and the city was quieter than usual. Left alone, like the character, to figure out what was going on or not. As much as I love work from emerging directors and noble failures that reach high (not always to succeed), I confess I am jaded enough to not anticipate controlled, disciplined, ambitious, original work from a filmmaker or film that I have no clue about. At that time, Kim (or was it Tully?) had been the only one to recommend it. WITHOUT is some of the strongest work this year. Afterwards, I sat there still on the couch wondering what is wrong with our indie film infrastructure that this film isn't being celebrated as it should be, and how I am going to have to work so much harder to do so.

THE DISPOSABLE FILM FESTIVAL: I got to be a judge for this San Francisco festival this past year and it was another great marriage of subject and setting. All the films in the selection were hand-crafted gems made on a shoe-string budget. They represented the diversity and quality of individual artist today. If they were not inspiring enough, the festival is held at The Castro Theater, one of the greatest houses to worship cinema ever built. I had never been there and it is so gorgeous. When I travel, despite not being at all religious, I can not help but visit churches and be amazed with what worship, devotion, and conviction can achieve. Sitting in The Castro seeing such handmade work, I wanted to go on a global pilgrimage to all the great movie palaces, before it's too late. Sign me up for that tour if you hear of it, okay?

MARGARET: Hands down, Kenneth Lonergan's film is the best American film of the year. Great work not only does not get seen, but often not even released. Even when it was first released, I had my doubts. I couldn't believe that a film by this writer/director, with that cast, could be any good and not have been screened for so long. Shame on me. The movie was a wake up call. I saw when it came along a second time. I had just gotten MoviePass and was delighted to see the theater where it was playing on their list of cinemas; it meant I had no risk. The great thing about a subscription theater service is I can try out movies like never before -- the only thing I am sacrificing is time. But I digress. Or maybe not. Maybe it was because I accepted the movie with no preconceptions, but I was so thrilled at the quality of the writing & performance. Naturalism is currently my fave cinematic aesthetic and Lonergan used it to make the micro epic, and he did it so bravely, warts and all, I felt I knew each of his characters or at least passed them on the street. I saw it with my wife, and as we left the theater, fully engaged, I thought of all the great films we experienced together and felt that despite how close this excellent film came to never being screened, that life was actually good and everything will be okay and I must never forget how fortunate I am.

GENRE VIDEOS AT HOME ON THE COUCH WITH MY FAMILY: I hate to admit it but I think this may trump my cinema going highlights. I am one of the lucky few who has a great video store less than a block away (Allen's Alley). Be it DOCTOR WHO, AIRPLANE!, V FOR VENDETTA, A.I. or ATTACK THE BLOCK some of my most fun came courtesy of DVDs, good company, comfortable environments and the pause button. We are going to have to work harder to make theatrical exhibition the must-see entertainment I'd like it to be. And I suspect that this is the year that I cancel my Netflix subscription too.

So, tell me, what were your most enjoyable cinema experiences of 2011?

Video: TIFF 2001 Moguls Talk With Ted Hope (aka Me)

At the Toronto International Film Festival this year I had the privilege of being asked to partake in their "Moguls" talk. Anthony Kaufman interviewed me. I think I set a record taking up the first sixteen minutes or so with my first answer. Granted it was about how MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE and DARK HORSE came together, and neither one was a simple story -- but then never are, are they? Well, it does boil down in each instance to making the movie for less than what the apparent value is, but that's the film business today, isn't it?

Just in case you are wondering, the class that I mention isn't happening when I said it was. It's happening soon though, and we will announce it sooner.

I talk about SUPER around the 35 minute mark. 41 Min: budget agnostic, genre agnostic, medium agnostic, platform agnostic. First and foremost, I want.... 42 Min: What makes a good film? 43 Min: When I was falling in love with my wife Vanessa... 44 Min: That list is this one. 45:50 Reverse engineering of Film 46:45 How can film mirror free will? 47:30 The End Of The Auteur Era Of Film 54:30 "Making Independent Films is a crime." 57:20 "There's never been a better time to shoot celluloid than there is today." 58:10 "Independent Film is a luxury good."

If you want to help me index this further, I would appreciate it.

Video: How The Film Industry Has Changed & Where It Is Going

I gave this interview for the film "PressPausePlay" a couple of years back. It premiered at SxSW earlier this year. I would say it a bit differently today, but the sentiment and bullet points remain the same. I must admit I am a bit surprised, but how much I still say is exactly the same today.

We are still looking for an audience-friendly term for immersive transmedia cross-platform creation. I remain restless to abandon this single product impulse-buy centered entertainment economy.

It's a short clip. I rev up as it goes on, so give it the time to reach the end. I feel it grows quite hopeful. Good work will come out of today's problems.

I look forward to watching all the PressPausePlay clips they have put on YouTube.

I Don't Do Panels. I Do Do Panels. I Am Doing A Lot Of Panels! What Am I Doing?

I don't like panels. They can never be conversations. They are usually five people pushing separate agendas that have no relation to what the audience is looking to learn. I like discussions. Two, maybe three participants is best. It was just me & Anthony Kaufman in Toronto. I happily moderate panels though, when it is an issue, film, or organization I care about. And sometimes I break my own rules. This weekend I am doing one panel and one conversation. I hope you will come. I may start enforcing my rules after this.

Tomorrow I am participating in " Co-Production Strategies: Identifying and Negotiating US and International Partnerships" at the Film Finance Forum / East. Get tickets here. "This session will address how to identify the right partners and locations for enhanced incentives, work out financial structuring, distribution territories, agreements, and accounting practices, among many other issues when working on co-productions in the current environment."

Moderator: Jeff Begun, Production Executive, The Incentives Office Panelists: Ted Hope, Producer, Double Hope Films Randall Emmett, Co-Chair, Emmett/Furla Films Harris Tulchin, Owner, Harris Tulchin & Associates Pat Swinney Kaufman, Executive Director, New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development Lloyd Kaufman, President, Troma Entertainment

On Sunday, I am participating in IFP's Independent Film Week in "The Hot Button: Is Indie Filmmaking A Career Or A Hobby?" My fellow participants are Scott Macauley and Mynette Louie. The blurb explains: "As production budgets contract and sales struggle to rebound, is it possible to make a career of independent filmmaking? Join the debate on the sustainability of the industry." Get tickets here.

Allow Me To Take YOU To Venice To Experience DARK HORSE

It's pretty crazy how fast everything moves these days. We are able to leap countries and time to find what we missed continents away. Today DARK HORSE has it's press and industry screening in Toronto. Tomorrow is the North American Premiere. But I know how to make you feel like you are with us. Let me take you to Venice...

My flight out of Venice was evidently the only one that left for the United States on Tuesday. Our film DARK HORSE premiered there to a very nice standing ovation the night before. I arrive here to find interviews and press conference clips already up online. Check it out (and of course I rant a little bit). You even get to see the photo call and a NEW clip at the end!

Want more press conference? More Todd? There's a bit of a spoiler in this one, although it is more philosophical spoiler than actual content.

You really should have been with us on the red carpet. I couldn't resist photographing a smooch with my wife there, and well, "they" caught it:

Even our entrance at the screening is posted.

If it is specifics you want, here's Selma Blair talking about working with Todd:

Jordan Gelber offers up his view of the collaboration with Mr. Solondz (6.5 min) and then Selma adds a bit more of her perspective (6 min.):

I am sure there is more to find. But I have to say there's a particular pleasure getting to relive your pleasures moments after you've had them.

Video: Christine Vachon Does A Good Ted Hope Impression

Christine Vachon recently had a talk with Anthony Kaufman at the NewFest Visionary Award presentation and had many interesting things to say about her career, producing, and indie film -- all that plus a lovely impression of yours truly.

The interview is a wealth of good advice. Add this video to your film school curriculum. Scott Macauley has selected some of his favorite quotes for you. And IW's own, Anthony Kaufman -- who moderated the event, gave a nice brief of the discussion, here.

Video: Spike Jonze, Lisa Cholodenko, and me on Financing and The Rule Of The Samurai

Spike, Lisa, and I got to have a great conversation at The Cleveland Public Library early this year, and a great crowd came. An official video was shot of the proceedings and hopefully will be available shortly, but this one came from the crowd, and is a nice little nugget to wet your appetite.

What Is The Future Of The Film?

On Tuesday last week Brian Newman and I conducted a conversation on the topic of "The Future Of Film" at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. I had an extra shot of espresso and we spoke for over an hour. You can re-live 8 minutes of it and see just how revved up I can get on this topic. There's a lot more to say about this subject. Brian said some of that here.