Ted Hope on the Change-Challenged Independent Film Industry and Where It's Going
Three years ago I shared a quote about the independent film world that I found telling: “Europeans know how to fill out forms. Americans know how to sell.” As indie superproducer (and now head of the San Francisco Film Society) Ted Hope shares below, this is because “[America] is one of two countries in the industrialized world that doesn’t see fit to fund film art as part of its job stimulus, as part of its cultural exchange.” While indie filmmakers can always apply for grants, the fact is to have an actual life-sustaining career in today’s industry, each and every one of us must know as much as possible about producing, marketing, distribution and in general The Business. Let’s check in on the state of independent film producing, circa 2012.
Today there are roughly 50,000 feature films made every year (globally) and, if you listen to the following podcast of Ted’s, our market can only support about 500 titles a year. So as a rule of thumb, that’s a 1% chance of your film finding a sustainable audience, assuming you’ve already completed the herculean task of funding and finishing a feature film. Each of us needs to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as we can get our hands on, and Ted’s blog and these podcasts are a great resource.
The following talks are embedded here from Screen Australia, where Ted gave a talk recently wherein he “critiques the current state of the film industry and addresses the paradigm shift created by the overnight dominance of social media, suggesting we need to dramatically shift our approach to marketing and finding audiences.” They can also be downloaded on iTunes.
Ted Hope: Grasping the new paradigm
Ted Hope: A new business model
As I repeatedly bang my head against the established business models — given I am expressly trying to do something different — this quote of Ted’s jumped out at me:
Why is change so hard? It’s because people don’t want to lose their job. For change to occur, the pain of the present has to be greater than the fear of the future. Unless we start to accept that we’re really in a shitty situation, no one’s going to start to adopt new practices. That’s the uphill battle that we have in order to get things done.
If ever an industry was broken, it’s ours. Yet instead of responding by trying new things, most of the established entities seem to want to fail more slowly instead of trying something new. It’s up to us to be the innovation we need, from the outside, from the ground up.
Our producing archives on this site are shamefully light. I take responsibility for that, and that’s something we will look to remedy going forward with new writers and more guest posts going forward. That’s one of the exciting things about running and redesigning a website: while the online world has its own share of challenges and collapsing business models, it is far, far easier to get things done in the internet world than it is in the film world. As these two worlds collide, I’m hoping to change the latter by applying some of the things learned in the former.
For further related reading, Andrew Einspruch took excellent notes on Ted’s full two-day producing workshop at Screen Australia; links are below.
Listening to Ted’s talk, what quotes jumped out at you? Any recent experiences to share with the business/market side of the industry?
- Everything I Know About Producing, Pt. 1 – Ted Hope
- Everything I Know About Producing, Pt. 2 – Ted Hope