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Producer Ted Hope Tweets 24 Tips for Independent Filmmakers

02.27.12 @ 12:16PM Tags : ,

If you are one of those people who can’t stand any more 5D Mark III news (there are new leaked photos by the way), then Ted Hope has some filmmaking tips that will bring us back to what really matters. If you don’t know who Ted is, he works tirelessly as an independent film spokesperson and he writes a blog that always contains insightful or meaningful content. Ted’s goal is to make film accessible to everyone, and to help remove the shroud of secrecy that surrounds show business. He gave some great tips for independent filmmakers while speaking at the Athena Film Festival, and in a move common for Ted, he graciously tweeted that information to the world.

Thanks to Cole Abaius at Film School Rejects for posting this. Here are Ted’s tweets:

  1. Set the agenda.
  2. Beware of their unexpressed agenda.
  3. Use passion to open doors.
  4. Find your community and activate.
  5. Create tools now for use later.
  6. Be honest in your communication.
  7. Walk on a tightrope with conviction.
  8. Be strategic.
  9. Don’t ask for permission.
  10. Embrace the fullest definition of cinema.
  11. Help people envision themselves as a force of change.
  12. Know the someone you make the movie for.
  13. Find a way or make one.
  14. Let the audience ripple wider.
  15. Create atmosphere of inevitability.
  16. Must have great intention.
  17. Be authentic to yourself.
  18. Be distinct in the marketplace.
  19. Make sure you have friends to support you emotionally.
  20. Look beyond the feature film form.
  21. Support each other.
  22. Do your research.
  23. Build a coalition.
  24. Establish your brand (what makes you unique).

I particularly like these: “Be strategic, Don’t ask for permission, Find a way or make one.” These are some of the basic ideas that I try to live by in my own filmmaking and they are valuable lessons for people starting out. Making movies is very, very hard. If you happen to be one of those people who doesn’t think so, either you aren’t doing any of the work, or your final product is probably not anything of worth. If you’re working in the creative fields, it’s always going to be difficult. You need to come up with a plan for how you’re going to execute, but no one should be telling you what you can or can’t do. It’s your story, stick to your guns and tell it however you think it should be told.

If you come up against obstacles (again if you haven’t, then why even read this blog?), find a way to push through them. Filmmaking is a marathon, not a sprint. By being methodical and by working through each problem as it comes your way, you can overcome any of those roadblocks. I’ve had my share of issues while making films – cars being towed, actors getting sick, potential frostbite, car accidents, losing your only location – but by never getting down on myself, pushing through, and problem-solving, I’ve been able to complete all of those films.

I also think “Make sure you have friends to support you emotionally” is extremely important. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. If your only friends are non-filmmakers, while the emotional support could be beneficial, they honestly don’t have much of an idea about what you’re going through and the stress you’re under. If you’re one of the lead creatives in a project, it’s going to take a major toll physically and mentally – but if you’ve got friends who understand the pitfalls of making movies, they can help guide you when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, don’t surround yourself with negativity. If you’ve got friends who always say you can’t, or won’t do something, it’s counterproductive. Find positive people who think you can do anything as long as you persevere.

Ted also gives some great insights about the new filmmaking culture – specifically about building and supporting a community, and establishing your brand. These are all important lessons we have to understand. Movies are now accessible to anyone, anywhere, and with that comes quite a bit of overcrowding. The best way to excel is to find people and other filmmakers out there who are just like you, who share the same tastes as you, and work with or support them. Thanks to the internet, you can find and build a community all over the world. This blog is a great example of that.

Establishing your brand sounds a lot like marketing, and in some ways, it is. To me, establishing your brand is about sticking to what you know, being honest with yourself, and putting yourself out there. We all have qualities that make us unique, and it might take a lot of soul-searching for you to find them, but when you do, it’s incredibly rewarding, and people will respect you more because you’re not trying to be anything you’re not.

Got any other tips? What are you favorite pieces of advice and why?

Link: Ted Hope @tedhope – Twitter

[via: Film School Rejects]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 22 COMMENTS

  • Will Gilbey on 02.27.12 @ 1:38PM

    Great post, Koo. Inspiring stuff. Am now following Mr. Hope on twitter.

  • Im sorry, but this is the stupidest article I’ve read on this almost always useful blog.

    Lets make a list of indie film cliches and then add commentary that ammounts to “yeah! Be yourself!” …?

    Come on guys

    • I don’t know, personally I would listen to anything this guy says.

    • Kevin Bingham on 02.27.12 @ 2:28PM

      What’s stupid about it? Is any of this contrary to what you have experienced? What could have been better about it? (Creative criticism.)

      From my POV, I admit that the tweets are a bit raw, could have been worded a bit differently, and need some interpretation.

    • I get u Max, but Ted is pretty much an indie film cheerleader/coach to keep u motivated and your eyes on the prize.

    • While I don’t think he’s expressed himself in a particularly helpful way, I’m somewhat with Max.

      Firstly, while there’s some good stuff here, I don’t think it’s presented usefully. I don’t think there’s much point in throwing out what, when lacking in context, amount to platitudes. Secondly, 24 points? With that many, there’s bound to be redundancy and wishy-washiness. I would much rather have 5 points, discussed solidly. These come across like variations on “believe in yourself”. For instance, “Let the audience ripple wider”… someone’s going to have to explain that to me.

      Like I say, there’s stuff which could be good – for example “Create tools now for use later” is potentially a really interesting article topic. But if it’s not an article, or at least a paragraph, it could mean anything. I’m generally wary of hand-wavy sentiments, since they can be interpreted any way you like; plus, in this kind of context, you often hear different industry people saying completely contradictory things about how to “make it big”! I think it’s great to discuss these things, but I don’t think this list of “motivational poster” type sentiments really helps much in and of itself.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying everything should be articles about the latest camera! I’ve found some of the directing posts really useful, but that’s because they’ve been focused on solid, practical advice. Hopefully I’m not coming across as too negative…

  • Will Thomas on 02.27.12 @ 1:59PM

    Keep up the good work Joe Marine, I’m liking your posts.

  • Ted, i just want to say that with your information here i am so amazed by having you as a filmmaker. I really appreciated for info, empowering, motivated and well chosen wise words. Thank you Mr Ted.

  • Glad to know I’ve been lucky enough to have done this out of sure blind luck and ignorance… intuition is great… guided intuition is powerful!

  • One of the credos that I live by is this: Act like a professional and people will have no choice but to treat you like one.

  • Kevin Bingham on 02.28.12 @ 11:04AM

    I think this would have had a bit more meaning if it was organized a bit, since some of these are a bit vague.

    Walk on a tightrope with conviction.
    Use passion to open doors.
    Don’t ask for permission.
    Find a way or make one.
    Must have great intention.
    Be authentic to yourself.

    Set the agenda.
    Be strategic.
    Do your research.

    Find your community and activate.
    Help people envision themselves as a force of change.
    Support each other.
    Build a coalition.
    Make sure you have friends to support you emotionally.
    Beware of their unexpressed agenda.
    Be honest in your communication.
    Create atmosphere of inevitability.

    Let the audience ripple wider.
    Establish your brand (what makes you unique).
    Know the someone you make the movie for.
    Be distinct in the marketplace.

    Embrace the fullest definition of cinema.
    Look beyond the feature film form.

    Create tools now for use later.

    • Nicely organized. Shot. Scene. Sequence. Sounds a little bit like Dov SS Simons with the info

  • Rev. Benjamin on 02.28.12 @ 2:18PM

    TLDR: be nice and honest, do your research, plan, prepare, and finally, use teamwork. Also, Rosebud’s a sled. Anyone else need some time saved in their lives? : )

  • Filmmaking is not for the weak we all know this to be true. It’s as much a journey for the doers as it is for the characters. But the reality is just get a low budget script done, make it great, then get 50k even if it takes 3 years to save it up and go and get crew to work with you on a 10-12 day shoot, and make sure all the locations are close by. Be clever with your story, breaks all the rules that Robert McKee says just this once so you’re noticed, because this 50k movie is your business Card – to say I’ve made a movie, then put your energies into the next script – you will always have this business card, just try not to make it shit. I know this sounds easy (maybe) but I am doing this and I have inspired amazing talent (crew) to my project all working for free, once I feed them well, and the snow ball effect happens. People get excited about great ideas, especially when you have no money and plan to make it anyway, you will be surprised once you’re not a nut job how they will make that effort or else do a short, make them see how talented you are, then ask them (That’s how I did it) my short got no where but it’s still a bloody great short – they just don’t give awards to anything but Drama because no one would care about the movie if they didn’t (in the wider market audience view I mean). Treat your film like a business, starting your own business is just as hard, planning etc families, friends help when you’re starting the next cafe, or hairdresser etc… anyway I’m ranting sorry DO don’t talk – just Do it and do it again, and again and again – if you truly love film

  • One point I disagree with (as a blanket statement) is “Don’t ask permission.” This idea is great when you are paying people for their time. However, if you are not paying people, I think you should value their time enough not to risk wasting it by being shut down. Not only for moral reasons, but also because it is a way to squander your most precious resources; your cast and crew.

  • Ted Hope is like Buddha for independent producers. Take what you will from his words. Medidate on them and use them as mantras. Throw away what you can’t deal with at this point. I like Kevin’s type-A organizational skills, what most of us need, but I think the beauty of what Ted preaches is to make us come up with our own vision of what filmmaking is, and can become. @Max: when you produce a film like “In The Bedroom”, then you can knock Mr. Hope’s gifts to us all.