×

Producer Ted Hope: Indies Need to Take the Next Step

One of the pivotal figures of independent filmmaking during the fertile period of the 1990s and 2000s, Ted Hope has produced films by auteurs including Ang Lee, Nicole Holofcener, Todd Solondz, Todd Haynes, Bart Freundlich, Todd Fields and Michel Gondry. Last year, he wrote he would no longer depend on producing to make a living, but he remains passionate about creating, and about helping the indie movie business model evolve. “I want to make films that lift the world and our culture higher — and our current way of doing things does just the opposite,” he wrote at the time. After serving for a year as director of the San Francisco Film Festival, he became CEO of San Francisco-based Fandor, an online subscription film service. “Hope for Film” grew out of his writing on his longtime blog.

Why were the 1990s such a fertile period for indies?

It was clear people were hungry for a more accessible but still ambitious form of international cinema. We kept the auteur, but also learned to listen to the audience.

What defined the independent business when you got involved in it?

The pivotal moment for me was Ang Lee’s “The Wedding Banquet.” No foreign sales agents knew how to market a movie about gay and Chinese subjects. But the international market was taking off, and we realized there were two arthouse distributors in every major territory that would compete to buy a film that they knew would eventually get U.S. distribution based on our track record. We realized this was the indie business: foreign sales. From ‘The Wedding Banquet” we knew we had to enter it. It took us two years to woo David Linde, but then we did.

How can new tools and more platforms help filmmakers? 

They allow for new subject matter and approaches. You no longer have to make movies for mass audiences.

Almost 20 years ago in Filmmaker magazine, you predicted great opportunities for movies on the Internet. Despite some VOD successes, we still haven’t really seen that breakthrough title. 

The challenge is creating urgency. The promise of the Internet is achieved by combining connectivity with consumption. Nobody has cracked the next stage, where online cinema becomes its own thing.

How does the new reality for independents differ from the traditional theatrical model?

We’re going from a place of scarcity to one of abundance. It’s not about focusing on a few titles. The business has shifted more than people are willing to admit.  

More Film

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

  • Mahershala AliMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the most buzz for eight of the top 10 movies or [...]

  • Chris Rock - Netflix

    Chris Rock's 'Saw' Reboot Moves Up Five Months to May 2020

    Lionsgate has moved Chris Rock’s upcoming “Saw” reboot forward by five months to May 15, 2020, vacating the pre-Halloween date of Oct. 23, 2020. The studio indicated Monday that it decided to move the untitled “Saw” movie into the summer slot after seeing early footage from the set of the film currently shooting in Toronto. The move [...]

  • Peter Farrelly

    Peter Farrelly to Judge Sun Valley Film Festival's Film Lab Competition

    Sun Valley Film Festival has set “Green Book” director Peter Farrelly as the judge for the sixth annual Film Lab competition. The program, sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which is in its sixth year, selects one team of filmmakers to work with the festival to complete their film projects. The director and producer of the [...]

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Dominates, But Is Disney Running Low on Remakes?

    “The Lion King” and its massive $185 million domestic debut proved that audiences have an insatiable appetite for Disney’s remakes and re-imaginings. Despite mixed reviews, moviegoers turned out in force for director Jon Favreau’s hyper-realistic update of the classic cartoon. “The Lion King” broke numerous box office records, including the best start among Disney’s live-action [...]

  • The Fast and the Furious

    'Fast & Furious 9' Production Halted After Stuntman Injured in Fall on Set

    An accident on the set of Universal’s “Fast & Furious 9” in the United Kingdom has left a stuntman in hospital with a serious head injury. Production on the movie has halted at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, near London. “We had an injury on the set of ‘FAST 9’ today in Leavesden with one of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content