Hope For Film: From the Frontline of the Independent Cinema Revolutions

Hope For Film: From the Frontline of the Independent Cinema Revolutions

by Ted Hope


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An inspiring, tell-all look at the indie film business from one of the industry’s most passionate producers, Hope for Film captures the rebellious punk spirit of the indie film boom in 1990s New York City, its collapse two decades later and its current moment of technology-fueled regeneration. Ted Hope, whose films have garnered 12 Oscar nominations, draws from his own personal experiences working on the early films of Ang Lee, Eddie Burns, Hal Hartley, Michel Gondry, Nicole Holofcener, Todd Solondz and other indie mavericks, relating those decisions that brought him success as well as the occasional failure.

Whether navigating negotiations with Harvey Weinstein over final cuts or clashing with high-powered CAA agents over their clients, Hope offers behind-the-scenes stories from the wild and often heated world of low-budget cinema—where art and commerce collide. As mediator between these two opposing interests, Hope offers his unique perspective on how to make movies while keeping your integrity intact and how to create a sustainable business enterprise out of that art while staying true to yourself. Against a backdrop of seismic changes in the indie-film industry, from corporate co-option to the rise of social media, Hope for Film provides not only an entertaining and intimate ride through the ups and downs of the business of art-house movies over the last 25 years, but also hope for its future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593766092
Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date: 04/14/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Ted Hope is one of the most respected voices in independent film. In 1990 he cofounded with James Schamus the production and sales powerhouse Good Machine. His 65-plus films includes many highlights and breakthroughs in independent cinema, including The Ice Storm , American Splendor , 21 Grams , Happiness , Martha Marcy May Marlene , and Adventureland. Known within the industry for having an extraordinary ability to recognize emerging talent, Hope has more than 20 first features to his credit, including those of Alan Ball, Todd Field, Michel Gondry, Hal Hartley, and Nicole Holofcener. As the creator, editor, and regular contributor to HopeForFilm.com blog, Hope provides a must-read forum for discussion and engagement about the critical issues filmmakers and artists face.

Anthony Kaufman is a highly respected film journalist who has covered independent cinema since 1997. He was one of the founding editors of Indiewire.com and continues to write about films and the film industry for a variety of publications, including Variety and The Village Voice, for which he wrote the July 1999 cover story on The Blair Witch Project. He has also been published in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate, among others.

Read an Excerpt

It was January 1991 and bitterly cold. Why in the hell were we out on the streets of New York City shooting a movie? The U.S. military had just launched its massive air campaign in Iraq. The nightly infrared news images of the bombing of Baghdad looked a bit like the high contrast black-and-white film stock we were using on the film that had brought us together, a short called “Keep it For Yourself.” Directed by French filmmaker Claire Denis, it was my first project for the film company, Good Machine that I had just co-founded with James Schamus.

Our office was above one of the strip clubs on Warren Street in Tribeca. My longtime girlfriend and I had split up and I was through with silly things like romance. There was only one thing I wanted to do: work, work, work. I should have been in heaven, but the production was going horribly wrong. The crew didn’t trust Claire or her cinematographer Agnes Godard—they were insisting on shooting in chronological script order to help the nonprofessional actors reach a level of emotional truth. What is good for the actors can be something else for the crew and jumping back and forth across the room with your camera is not considered the most efficient way to shoot a movie. “Who are these European rank amateurs?” the crew was saying. They were threatening mutiny. Then light streaks kept mysteriously showing up on the exposed film stock—unbeknownst to us at the time, because it was thirty degrees, the celluloid was conducting static electricity. In order to continue, the camera crew was nestling the film stock in their down jackets or putting hot water bottles around the film magazines.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1 Inspiration 1

Chapter 2 Patience 27

Chapter 3 Joyfulness 51

Chapter 4 Commitment 77

Chapter 5 Ambition 103

Chapter 6 Collaboration 119

Chapter 7 Creativity 141

Chapter 8 Time 165

Chapter 9 Community 199

Chapter 10 Change 223

Appendix-141 Problems and Opportunities for the Independent Film World 255

Filmography 293

Index 295

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