Industry Legend Ted Hope for a Truly Free Film Future
New online tools and technology have generated amazing opportunities for content creators to connect directly with audiences. Yet, when considering the overall impact the Internet has had on the film business, those at the top often voice only fear and disappointment about the increasing loss of revenue and control. Rarely do statements of enthusiasm and optimism emerge from anyone who has been making movies for more than two decades — unless, of course, Ted Hope is speaking. As a champion of independent film, Ted emphasises the possibilities rather than the problems facing the filmmakers of tomorrow.
This forward-thinking attitude has helped Ted to consistently deliver high quality, independent films that appeal to diverse audiences and critics alike. Since the late 1980s, Ted has produced dozens of highly acclaimed films, including the Academy Award nominated films 21 Grams, In the Bedroom and American Splendor. He has transitioned his work into the digital age with confidence, advocating that others in the industry should embrace technology rather than try to fight it. Following on this belief, Ted and his colleagues at This is that corporation, a New York-based production company that Ted co-founded, encourage all the filmmakers they work with “to take the stories beyond the confines of traditional movie space.”
This move towards cross-media storytelling is something Ted believes can help to build “a deep, rich and ever-changing dialogue” between creators and audiences. Although this two-way exchange has become an increasingly important part of the storytelling process, Ted warns that filmmakers must “maintain respect for the audience” and not let the desire to engage in transmedia stem from a desire to advertise the film. Because, as Ted puts it, “people can always smell the sell”, he believes that if a film employs cross-media storytelling purely for financial gain, “it’s doomed.” However, for those filmmakers who are interested in carrying their films beyond the screen and establishing deep connections with their evolving audiences, the reward will likely be far greater than any distributor could ever calculate.
Because new technology has erased the lines between creation and discovery, it now requires that filmmakers stay with their projects beyond distribution and be willing to engage in ongoing conversations with their audiences. To push forward in this direction, Ted urges, “The myth that inspiration and hard work are all one needs to succeed has to be abandoned.” In a recent blog post he wrote entitled 18 Actions Towards a Sustainable Truly Free Film Community, Ted offers action points that might inspire the change the industry needs to evolve and thrive.
To honour Ted’s progressive approach towards filmmaking, Filmmakers Alliance recently awarded him with their prestigious Vision Award, which Ted accepted with inspiring remarks of hope for the industry. Ted regularly expresses his vision for the future of independent cinema through his blog Truly Free Film and in the column he writes for HammerToNail.com, which he also co-founded.
Ted’s latest film, Adventureland, perfectly captures the indie spirit that is carried throughout Ted’s body of work. The coming-of-age comedy is playing this week at the Prince Charles Cinema, so try to catch it on the big screen or be sure to watch for it on DVD. However, something you absolutely won’t want to miss is the opportunity to see Ted Hope deliver the keynote at the Cross-Media Film Forum on 14 October at the Times BFI London Film Festival. Registration for the Conference closes today. Get your ticket now!