Lead investor Chris Kelly, former Facebook General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, is stepping in as interim CEO to replace outgoing Ted Hope, whose avocation film producer reigns supreme. He came in just a year ago, after leaving another short-term gig as executive director of the San Francisco Film Society. Hope will be “pursuing a new film production venture, and will remain a close advisor to the company,” according to a press release.
Last January, Kelly and Fandor founder and then-CEO Dan Aronson and chief content officer Jonathan Marlow approached Hope to take over as CEO. He was impressed with their curated collection of 5000 high quality indie and foreign films as well as the ways they share revenues with filmmakers and rights holders.
In 2013, Fandor brought in over three dozen new partners and individual filmmakers to its curated service. Fandor has also launched in Canada and expanded its services on a wide array of mobile and tablet devices, Sony Blu-ray players and home theater systems.
Kelly had hoped that Hope would help Fandor to “remake the film ecosystem” and “accelerate its pioneering approach to curation and digital content distribution.” Impressed by Fandor’s specialized content, Hope saw the SVOD service as “built around a key concept that the film industry needs to embrace: we need to have a vibrant film culture and to make sure that artists and their supporters are direct financial beneficiaries of the work they do.”
As an SVOD platform, Fandor’s curated core business gives half of their subscription revenue, 50 %, to the rights holders. Hope also admired Fandor’s film journal Keyframe and tried to enhance Fandor’s social media engagement in sharing the movies they love. Hope always left the door open for the occasional production venture. “Fandor is leading the way in fostering a great audience experience for online cinema,” stated Hope. “But filmmaking is my first love and I cannot resist returning to where my prime talents and skill set reside, and that is getting great films made well.”
He’s currently in Cincinnatti, Ohio filming TV director Andy Goddard’s low-budget indie “The Blunderer,” adapted by Susan Boyd from a Patricia Highsmith novel about a successful young architect (Patrick Wilson) in 1960s New York whose life with his wife (Jessica Biel) unravels when he becomes obsessed with solving a murder. He soon becomes enmeshed with the killer, a detective and another woman (Haley Bennett).
“Fandor is keenly situated now for real growth,” stated Kelly, adding that its subscriber population has doubled over the past year, as its library has expanded and technology upgraded. “Ted and the Fandor team have positioned us very well for continued expansion in 2015. While Fandor represents the next evolution of the film industry that Ted has been advocating for years, he was very eager to get back to making movies.”
A Fandor initiative with universities will launch in early 2015. Fandor has partnered with Hulu to bring The Criterion Collection to its members. The platform also ended the year with a day and date SVOD release in conjunction with a theatrical release in New York with the Film Society Of Lincoln Center of Bruno Dumont’s “Li’l Quinquin,” the first episodic series Fandor has premiered.
Kelly joined Facebook in 2005 as one of the first senior employees, and moved on to various roles as General Counsel, Vice President of Corporate Development, Chief Privacy Officer, and Head of Global Public Policy. He left in 2009 to pursue the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California. In 2010, he launched Kelly Investments, a family office pursuing transformational investments in technology, media, and finance.
Fandor is one of the fund’s earliest companies. Kelly also serves as co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and as the National Chair of the New Leaders Council, a progressive leadership training organization for millennials interested in public service.
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