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June 30 at 7:55am

Scientific Study Proves That Indie Films Make Youths Smarter

Well, it would be nice if such a study existed, but I guess everyone figures “why bother to fund what we already know”. Ahem…

Classical music sales did skyrocket though when a study found it made kids smarter. The state of Georgia even passed a law providing classical music CDs for every newborn child. Imagine that, with each new spawn, parents would be given a copy of Hal Hartley’s entire catalogue. Harvey Pekar could be come a household name if the standard baby gift was American Splendor. Okay, maybe such greats as Ballast, Wendy & Lucy, Goodbye Solo and the such may not be so good for teen psyches, but hey Stranger Than Paradise is still a good primer in on studied cool and Primer will surely drive a few truly innovative business ideas (and innovative filmmaking at that). [...]


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June 29 at 8:31am

Linearity is the enemy.

Today’s guest post is from James Fair, a filmmaker and educator I had the pleasure of meeting at the Galway Film Fleadh last year and recently met up again in NYC.  You might recall him from a prior post “University Challenged: Educational Approaches To Filmmaking”.

This summer I will direct “The Ballad of Des & Mo”, a feature film shot, edited and screened in 72 consecutive hours as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) in Australia. The plan is to shoot it upon RED One, to cinematic quality with dollies, tripods and tracks. If it goes well, you should never be able to tell that it was made in 72 hours.

‘Why do this?’ I hear you ask. Well, I am fascinated by the organisational structures that digital can offer to filmmakers, and I enjoy experimenting with alternative workflows and roles within filmmaking. I am not convinced that trying to use new technologies with the antiquated organisational structures of a struggling industry is effective. And it seems that the MIFF organisers agree that this is a valid point for us to explore at their event. My argument is that linearity permeates all areas of film production. To be linear is to be direct, undeviating and sequential. I believe that independent filmmakers have a fixation with linearity, and it is an obstacle they need to overcome.

[...]


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June 28 at 9:40am

Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer

Okay, it’s a minute too long, but maybe that’s because they want you to know it is important…

Hat tip to Pericles @PretentiousFilm!

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June 28 at 8:57am

Show Biz Is No Longer Business As Usual

NY Foundation of The Arts’ Matthew Seig pointed out Michael Feingold’s recent Village Voice article to me.  Although it addresses the problems of NY’s theater world it is equally applicable to the film world.  Give it a read.  Feingold lays out both the benefits and the challenges:

testing actors, challenging directors and designers, setting the bar high for playwrights to extend their reach. And I know, too, that if made affordable (but how?), it would benefit a New York audience that has long since given up going to the theater, an audience not interested in fighting its way through ill-mannered tourist crowds to see old musicals redone cheaply and stars that it can see for free (or the cost of a Netflix download) on its home screen. The audience is ready; the artists are ready. What will the theater do?


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June 27 at 7:24am

Is Finding An Audience A Skill That Can Be Learned?

Randy Finch guest posted here earlier this week. He got some excellent comments and now he replies to those. Check it out on his blog.

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June 24 at 2:18pm

Coping With Symposium/Workshop Brain Fry

Today’s guest post is once again courtesy of Jon Reiss.  Back before Jon wrote the book on DIY distro in the digi age (literally), he and I started brainstorming on the need for a marketing & distribution lab for filmmakers, somewhat modeled on the existing screenwriting & directing labs that many organizations run.  We had some real specific goals on this and pitched it to several key entities.  Everyone wanted to do it, and I believe everyone still wants to do it.  Money and time still are limited supply though, and our dreams have been deferred.  Yet, the initial steps have been taken by a couple of organizations, and most recently Film Independent put together: Seize The Power last weekend.  Jon’s post below, is a bit of  an extension from that remarkable collection of speakers and participants and information.

I heard a number of comments after this weekend’s LAFF Seize the Power Symposium that people where overwhelmed – that their brain’s had been fried by so many ideas and so much information.  To me that’s a sign that we succeeded.  When Film Independent and the Los Angeles Film Festival asked me to help them devise the Symposium (and accompanying Distribution Boot Camp for competition filmmakers) we were in immediate agreement that the event would focus on: 1. Nuts and bolts practical information for filmmakers.  2.  Forward thinking thought leaders indicating what the future might be.  3. Practical case studies of filmmakers who were using the new tools of distribution and marketing.  We wanted to avoid people sitting on a panel rehashing how we got here.   I also get the same brain-fry feedback when I give my weekend workshops – and I’m delighted.  This is what I suggest to people:

1. Focus on the Inspiration and Creative Potential [...]


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June 23 at 8:20am

Integrating Entrepreneurial Training Into Graduate Film Programs

I was excited to learn recently about how entrepreneurial skills are in integral part of the University of Central Florida MFA filmmaking program.  I gave a talk at LAFF on “The Rise Of  The Artist Entrepreneur” and find many filmmakers woefully under-equipped to navigate the demands of both survival and creation in today’s world.  Randy Finch helped start UCF’s innovative program in 2005 and I asked him to explain it a bit further. This is his guest post:

By Randy Finch
Not all filmmakers want to know about writing business plans, entity formation, the uses of social media and DIY distribution strategies. The MFA program at UCF is not for everyone. Our program is designed for a small group of microbudget digital filmmakers. If you are not prepared to do everything (including raising your own financing) that it takes to get a feature made and marketed for under $50,000, we’re not for you.
While I agree with Ted that financing, distribution and marketing should be woven into today’s independent filmmaker’s education, I also understand the recent backlash from filmmakers who have no interest in these subjects. The reason most of us got into this was not to become experts in distribution, marketing or finance. But in the 20+ years since I first became an independent filmmaker, I’ve been compelled to learn about VHS deals, sale leasebacks, foreign presales, negative pick-ups and all sorts of other arcane (and now mostly useless) business practices. [...]


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