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I think there are universal hopes all audiences have for cinema each and every time they sit down to watch. When we fail to provide them, people start to lose faith in our product. We need to keep this promises front and center when we create new movies. Many do, some don’t. Which side do you want to be on? [...]
Things could be better for the film biz. We can lift it up. We have the power.
How do we decide what is the best approach? What makes sense in terms of how we should work today?
For me, I start with the premise that everyone has less available time. We work more and more. We have more responsibilities and obligations. The less time we have, the more valuable that time becomes. We generally don’t commit our available time frivolously.
From there, I accept that there is increased competition for our time. Although we have less leisure time, we have more options on how to spend that time then ever before.
What does this access to everything mean for us? Generally speaking, the quality of our experiences improve with the increased input we get; that is, the more we consume, the better we are equipped to consider our next move. As we find “better” work to immerse ourselves in, the better work we do. When we have better advisors, our output benefits. As long as we don’t surround ourselves with the wrong people and things, things do get better.
How does our immersion in better things influence us? Overall we expect a better “ROIE”: Return On the Investment of our Engagement. We value time. We know there is plenty of good things to find. Our curiosity grows.
Luckily for us, those of us in the film business have a truly distinct product whose value has generally gone untapped. Business has taught us to look at film primarily for the revenue it can generate of course. The audience has been taught to value film based on how much entertainment it delivers. Yet, as any cinema lover knows, movies are much much more than that.
Movies create a shared emotional response amongst strangers. Good cinema compels us to discuss it afterwards. A movie can create empathy amongst folks who have only previously felt differences. How incredibly powerful is that? Can we unlock that attribute on a regular basis? Damn straight we can! The transformative power of cinema is its true utility; well, that and its consequent ability to build community around it.
If we highlight these aspects of film, we give the audience a better ROIE. Give more.
If we give the audience more, they in turn give us more. Isn’t that great?
Time to stop thinking of film as just an entertainment. Movies change people and they can change the world. Let’s celebrate this utility inherent in our art and business.
In June 2014, director Alex Lightman produced his first feature film, Tear Me Apart. Here he talks about the major lessons him and his team learnt along the way.
The London Screenwriters’ Festival 2011 was where my career really began. Made to talk to the person next to me by festival creative director Chris Jones, I shook hands with screenwriter Tom Kerevan. A fateful encounter.
We started working together and soon after met cinematographer Ernesto Herrmann on a short film shoot. The three of us have been working together ever since.
In May 2013 we made the somewhat snap decision to take the plunge and produce a feature film ourselves. [...]
Financing an independent film is no joke. For those of you who have gone through this process, you know just how grueling it is — taking meetings and phone calls with potential investors, entering your script into conferences and competitions — it gets overwhelming.
We’ve seen and experienced this firsthand with the films we’ve put together, and with clients as well. The process for our films and our colleague’s films begin with a process of cutting, compromise, and parring the script down to the very essence of the story.
While attending this fall’s film festival circuit and working with writers across the globe in mentorship programs, we saw a lot of great stories get wrapped up $50m-$100m bows.
Coming from film finance and production backgrounds, we were able to help these writers par their screenplays down to reasonable budgets while keeping the essence of their story in tact, and conveying one simple truth — the essence of every story costs nothing. [...]
We live in an era of cultural abundance. How does this change the way we engage and discover? How has it already done so?
When I moved to NYC I initially was overwhelmed by the options I had before me. A simple newspaper gave me a good heads up of the cornucopia of options on how to utilize my leisure time. I found solace in Woody Allen’s line “In New York, you always know what you are missing.” As a kid from the boondocks, my teen years were rife with anxiety over FOMO. Arriving in NYC, I found a new calm. It no longer was a question of access. The choices were before me; there was no scarcity. And I could step out my door and be there in a blink. I knew I would never be bored in NYC. [...]
With much appreciation to recent technological advancements, the costs associated with producing content have fallen through the floor. Thrillingly, they’re going to keep on falling over the coming years too.
For producers, this is groundbreaking. Finally, the playing field is leveling out, making it possible for truly talented individuals to break through without needing monstrous budgets.
Sure, most producers definitely need to harbor an entrepreneurial gene or two in order to realize their ultimate musings, but for those that have the drive and determination, the wonder that is the interwebs has offered forth a plethora of tools and platforms that make it possible to fund, produce and distribute content, on an otherwise non-existent budget, all from the comfort of ones own home.
Alas, with every yin must come yang. [...]
I like to tell myself there is great success to be found in the details. A justification for my own obsessive nature? Probably, but often true. Getting sucked up inside the tornado of sweeping, acute tasks necessary to get a film made has been easy. Distribution plans, business plans, breakdowns, pavement pounding, relationship building, due diligence and rewriting. Important details appear less important and fall by the way side. But, like Dorothy landing in Oz, I eventually find myself back in the land of detail. For example: a look book. [...]
Picture this: it is the first film you’ve financed yourself. You and your team are in a foreign land. Your money has been cut off and your financier picks […]
We are trying something a wee bit different this year. Instead of launching with a massive list of either the good and the bad, I’ve teamed up with some partners to help distribute the news. What’s good or bad in the film biz in 2014? Well check out Film Comment for ten good (complete with swell photo selection) and check […]
Less than 30% of all speaking characters in the 100 top-grossing films are female. “If filmmakers just added five female speaking characters to their current slate of projects (without taking away or changing any of the male characters) and repeated the process for four years, we would be at parity.”
Recently Jon Brooks at KQED wrote up a very nice piece on Tom Noonan’s WHAT HAPPENED WAS (1994). That film won multiple awards at Sundance but barely go seen. Unfortunately it does not sleep alone in my bed of barely seen almost-masterpieces. As strong as my track record may be, it still holds some flops, misfires, and damn bad luck […]