Ted Hope defines today’s indie producer: lean, smart, creative, prolific and always questing for useful intelligence about where our crazy film industry is going to go. The producer of 70 films in 20 years is also a sharer, which is why he blogs, constantly asking questions and throwing out possible answers on his website Truly Free Film. Whether he’s on a film set, giving a speech, participating on an industry panel or interviewing rising Sundance stars with old pal and occasional producing partner Christine Vachon, Hope slaps something up on his Hope for Film blog, and invites others to do so as well.
I am happy to announce that Hope for Film is joining the burgeoning indieWIRE Blog Network, the first filmmaker blog to do so. “One of the reasons I started blogging and kept it up is that I feel like we have the potential to build a stronger more active more participatory film community that supports us all,” he says. “IndieWIRE seems like the immediate solution of how to build that community.” As the industry undergoes a seismic shift toward digital production and distribution, Hope sees an opportunity at indieWIRE “to build an incredible city.”
Hope sees four key stratas for reaching a wider indie audience via his blog at indieWIRE: Industry news, film appreciation, sharing industry know-how and community leadership. He hopes the blog “is not just an echo chamber,” he says, “but a healthy discussion of ideas. The ultimate goal for me is a diverse and ambitious film culture where people reach higher both in the content of what they say in film and how it connects with an audience. How do we start to allow for a diverse and ambitious independent film culture and business? These are the discussions I always respond to.”
From Hope’s point-of-view, the independent film industry has just survived a transformation from a capital-intense economic model to one of cultural entrepreneurship of manufacture and distribution. “One no longer has that barrier to entry,” says Hope, who supports new talent while straddling low-budget indie and more mainstream Hollywood moviemaking. Short-form web films and transmedia also fascinate him, as does sharing on every possible social media platform.
Hope is delighted when a blog entry ignites reader response and debate, as did this February 7th “I am a nobody filmmaker” post from Chris Boghosian. “I love giving my blog over to other writers so that their voice gets amplified,” Hope says. “It’s such a powerful community organizing tool.”
On the filmmaking side, in January Hope premiered Sean Durkin’s cult drama Martha Marcy May Marlene at Sundance, which won the best director prize and was acquired by Fox Searchlight. Coming up is Rainn Wilson’s black comedy Super, which debuts at SXSW and opens April 1; in prep are Collaborator with Martin Donovan, Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse and Chris Monger’s Amateur Photographer, set to star the post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe.
Hope’s filmography is lengthy, impressive and lauded. He often works with rookie filmmakers, and produced the first features of Ang Lee, Hal Hartley, Nicole Holofcener, Todd Field, Michel Gondry, Moises Kaufman, and Bob Pulcini and Shari Berman. With partner Anne Carey, Hope is co-founder of New York production company This is that, and co-founded production and sales company Good Machine with James Schamus, later sold to Universal, which produced Ang Lee’s early films and received a 2001 retrospective at the Museum Of Modern Art.
Hope produced Greg Mottola’s Adventureland, Alan Ball’s Towelhead, Tamara Jenkins’ Savages, Fay Grim (Hope’s ninth collaboration with Hal Hartley), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s 21 Grams, Todd Field’s In the Bedroom and Todd Solondz’s Happiness. Three Hope films won Sundance Grand Jury Prizes: American Splendor, The Brothers McMullen, and What Happened Was… Hope also produced Sundance openers from Nicole Holofcener, Friends with Money and Moises Kaufman, The Laramie Project, which was nominated for five Emmys.