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Ted Hope Has 15 Predictions for the Future of Indie Film Over the Next 18 Months

Ted Hope Has 15 Predictions for the Future of Indie Film Over the Next 18 Months

I have written about the good things in indie film. I have
done it quite a bit. I have written about the bad things, and more than several
times there too. I have written about
the thinkers and doers who are shaping where we are (and will post that later
this month). I have examined the
cultural changes, the realities of our industry, and provided recommended best
practices. I examined why it is sooo slow to change. I would like to help us
find our path forward; what more can I do to help?

I tried to take action. I left the city of my youth (and many years well beyond that), and the
practice that I had dedicated my labor to (i.e. producing films), on the hope
that the support of an organization in a land of innovation could accelerate
the pace of change for my industry and culture (taking the reigns of the San
Francisco Film Society). Okay, so that wasn’t to be, and I have now resigned
from that gig and again I am pushing new boulders up the mountain now. But
where are we all headed? What will we see on the way? Will we miss the path
before us? How can we shine a light so we don’t stumble and get crushed by our
own labors?

Specifically, what really is on the horizon and what is the
mirage? Where will the seeds that have already been planted bloom most glorious
in our indie film evolution?

Can we actually future-cast indie film?  And if so, how exact can we get? Francis Ford
Coppola predicted Youtube, right?  If we
look at the options, observe the patterns, consume the inputs, and free
ourselves from routine, we won’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind

Future-casting summons both our desires and fears — giving
voice to either might secure their position, or at least bring them one step
closer. Should that alone scare us off from the process? I’d argue further-casting helps us arm
ourselves against the negative, pointing us to what we have to actively fight
harder against. Gifting that mindfulness is hopefully our collective windfall — and if so, what’s the harm in a little daydreaming? So….

My predictions for the world of IndieFilm over the next 18

1. Some Unknown Filmmaker Is Going To Get Rich Via Direct
Distribution – Direct Distribution works.
 So far we have had the examples of those that had a pre-developed
audience like Louis CK and those that had a clearly identified affinity group
pop and do well. But we haven’t yet
witnessed someone who made it on the strength of their story. It’s happened in music. It’s happened in book publishing. It will
happen in film and it will happen this year. We have the tools. We have the
talent. We have the helpers. And we have
the desire for fresh original storytelling. Better get ready. I would make a subset of this (or vice versa)
that Either 2014 or 2015 Is The Year That Direct Distribution Takes Off.  I wrote about this in my “Really Good Things
About The Indie Film Biz In 2013” Post.

2. Multi-territorial Short Term Limited Platform Licensing Will
Start To Take Hold Internationally. 
Sure, long-term all-media individual
territorial licensing will always apply to about 5 or 10 percent of the films
generated globally annually, but what about the rest? The current practice of
trying to apply that to all films makes little sense. Language and national boundaries make it
difficult in Europe for a different process to take hold, but it will. It will start with cooperative ventures
between VOD and digital partners, but eventually the boundaries will
shatter. Similarly, rights holders will
recognize that long term licenses for an emerging medium also makes little
sense. When something is inevitable, change occurs — although if we could
accelerate, we’d all be better off.

3. Customized Positive Ratings For Films. The fact is ratings
don’t tell us very much. Violence, sex,
drug use, sure. But what about human
respect? Racial or gender bias? Certain religions want greater specificity. In
the past ratings were always about the negative, the things you wanted to
avoid. I anticipate a shift to the
positive. I think we can expect Sweden’s embrace of the Bechdel test of gender
bias to take off. Is it too much to ask that two female characters with names
have something to talk about other than men? This will be a local phenomenon,
and used as a marketing device.

4. A Reduction In Creative Compromise. We have been producing
a culture of knockoffs. Our commercial industry is forced to play it safe and
capital seems so scarce many compromise up the wazoo just to get it made. We
have grown corrupt and fool ourselves into thinking that just getting it made
is a worthy goal.  We will see this
process begin to stop.  Artists — the true
among us — will not have faith in a system of compromise and will refuse to
participate. Once a funder backs that conviction and it succeeds in the
marketplace, some others will recognize that is not a triumph of genius, but
one of infrastructure and process (albeit one that allows the genius to
develop). In some ways it is already happening — Michel Gondry’s takeaway from
his Chomsky doc was celebrating that he “does not compromise at all”.

5. Independent Exhibitors Will Get A Cut Of VOD & Other
Ancillary Revenues. 
If you want to go Day and Date, it still is very hard to
get theatrical bookings unless you are willing to four-wall. It makes sense too, since the exhibitors are
doing the promotion for the VOD system. It would be hard to cut a deal to a large chain, although I must imagine
someone is at work doing this now. I
would imagine it would be far easier to start with a group of independents in
some key markets and get their buy in first. Still though, this is a slippery
slope. We know that movies are just an

Read the rest of Ted Hope’s 15 predictions at his blog, Truly Free Film.

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