Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Ted Hope's List of 30 Really Bad Things About the Indie Film Business in 2013

By Ted Hope | Indiewire December 4, 2013 at 9:39AM

2013 has been a good year for indie film, but producer Ted Hope has come up with a list of 30 "really bad things" about the indie film business this year.
11
"Technological advances increasingly reduce the value of basic filmmaking skills."

8. The long tail no longer exists, if it ever had. Or if it did, it is crushed by both the tsunami of the new and the last battalions of the corporately-funded superstars.  Good luck getting noticed when 1% buy a louder scream than what the rest can yell combined. Artists struggle to survive in the era of the blockbusters' total domination.

9. The Digital Recession - We know it is hard to get work, any work.  And we know that it is hard to make filmmaking a sustainable profession.  But it also goes beyond that.  Technological advances increasingly reduce the value of basic filmmaking skills. Jim Cummings nailed it in this HopeForFilm post earlier this year.

10 Indie Film is not about community or the culture -- it is more about business and success than ever before. This is where I let my gray hair (what's left of it) show.  The folks in this business generally forget that we are first and foremost a community. We could be lifting it all up together, but no. When they know you, and there is no business in you for them, they don't bother generally with a personal touch.  If they pass on your film, or your script, they rarely call, or write a personal letter.  I have seen the biggest of film festivals do this to some of the most successful of filmmakers.  I have seen agents ignore former clients.  I rarely see people in the business do that extra something unless there is something in it for them. Everyone asks and few offer. I have witnessed this firsthand, and seen and heard of it with my collaborators. It is a shame, a downright dirty shame.

11. We don't budget -- let alone train people  to budget -- for the full life cycle of the film, and thus lose most of the value for our work without receiving proper compensation.  Film schools train people only half way -- just getting the film to the festivals and market.  We have to learn to schedule, project revenues, and budget for the longest of hauls.  Without that, we will never truly recognize the value of our work.  And without that, we won’t be prepared to extract or maximize revenue from our work -- and generally if we don't change that, the creator class won't survive.  Fixing this, was the motive behind A2E (and something I would do if I found the proper host).

12. It's as if the industry wants all independent films to fail. There are numerous educational initiatives that our leaders and institutions could (and should) undertake  that could help indie films succeed that no one has yet undertaken. We have no marketing check list for bringing your film to release.  We need a map to run this race.  It's a simple fix not yet executed. Although I am no expert in this arena I have been working on one, and now that I have quit my job, hopefully I can complete it. I could use a wise marketing hand to run through it with me (hint, hint).

13. The exhibition calendar remains overcrowded with too much of the same -- particularly when it comes to summer (for blockbusters) and winter (for Oscar bait). Why can't we have a balanced or logical release schedule? Films cannibalize each other. New York City has over 25 films opening on any given weekend.

14. Print media continues to die -- and with it the film biz's key way to market to the masses, and allow quality work to be discovered. Newsweek is no more. In 2010, it sold for one dollar, signaling the state of the business.  Last year's "magazine of the year", New York, will go bi-weekly now.  So much for accolades. Newspapers were wonderful things: people bought them generally to read the horoscope, but discovered wonderful things turning the pages, like revolutions in far off lands, and auteur films playing around the corner.

15. There is no uniform reporting, clarity, transparency of data from digital viewing that would allow the business and culture to advance.  This has been true for awhile and I have mentioned it in my annual round ups before.  However, the fact the establishment is calling out for it, gives it new prominence, both in the UK and in the States. The EU even has a film body dedicated to it: The European Audiovisual Observatory. "Transparency is .. actually its raison d'etre."  Wow. Imagine if the US had a film entity that could say the same? Maybe it will start to get better here too...

Read the full list of 30 here.


This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit, Ted Hope, Digital Film Distribution, Digital Future





Win The Complete Twin Peaks on Blu-ray from Indiewire! in Indiewire's Hangs on LockerDome