Ted Hope doesn't read scripts anymore. That's his new vow as the leader of the San Francisco Film Society -- not because the veteran producer of films like "Happiness" and "American Splendor" no longer wants to produce, but because he's currently devoted to creating an infrastructure that will allow all filmmakers a better chance at getting their movies seen.
"Everything is a different model," he said. "It's a herculean effort that will require many to make it work."
Among his initial efforts was the inaugural A2E (Artist to Entrepreneur) program, a series of workshops designed to help all elements of the film industry reconsider all issues related to building a business around their art. Said Hope, "It was aimed at helping filmmakers understand how to build a budget around the second half of their film."
Given his location, part of his goal is to boost the Bay Area and make it a disruptive center for filmmaking practices. "I'm the leader of organization vs a producer (with) my own mission," he said. "The challenge is getting the movie seen, not getting it funded. And getting these programs launched requires raising $600,000 right away. It's such a different way of working."
Hope recognizes that the problems he's tackling are massive and that a traditionally genteel organization like the SFFS might not always be comfortable in the role of battering ram. "Change isn't something an individual can do or communities are comfortable with. I have a supportive board and great sponsors, but the difference between strategizing and getting stuff done, it comes down to -- can I get more people involved and can I get the money that's needed to do it? 'How do I build community and raise money' is first and foremost on my mind.
"Moving to San Francisco and taking the job at the San Francisco Film Society... taking a break from producing and focusing on structure building."
"The recognition that indie film is not a sustainable culture, business or career path at this time, for anyone. Even the most successful. And I'm an optimist. My last name is Hope. I also think it's the best time ever to be an independent filmmaker."
"The cost of marketing and distribution. Tools improve, there's access to information and content, barriers to entry are lower, and the opportunities for collaboration increase. But the dominant status quo business model is in question."
"Making sure that the creators are the direct financial beneficiaries of the work they create. Helping filmmakers navigate this huge paradigm shift that's before us. That's really the call to action. There have been a lot of inquiries to launch a new iteration of the A2Elab in other locales and I hope to lock the funding to bring it to filmmakers in different regions."