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December 30 at 8:17am

New Blog Sections: I Need Your Help

You may have noticed on the bottom right hand corner of this HopeForFilm blog that I’ve started having a roll of other indie film thought bloggers — rather an ever changing list of their most recent postings.  Hopefully you already follow all of these good minds, but regardless I think they are all raising issues about making indie films that can’t be missed — and hence their inclusion on this site.  These are smart folks sharing their knowledge and musings — providing the crucial ingredients needed for the culture to work better.  I am sure there are others I should include too, so let me know of them if you find them first.

I have added a similar blog role on LMBF “Aid To Making Better Films” but could use some suggestions there.  I would also like to add curators to TheseAreThoseThings and welcome suggestions.  Issues&Actions has a good list “YouAreNeededToDoSomethingNow” but they all slant towards Net Neutrality and I could use recommendations for more general film issues.  I would like to do the same for TheNextGoodIdea (and have some ideas for that) and BowlOfNoses.  Your help is appreciated.

I’ve long dreamt of an indie film journal that wasn’t about deals or celebrity, but was about process: creative, production, and presentation — a journal that was about the Hows, and the Whys, and the How Comes?.  This is my step towards that work.  I KNOW I would read such a journal.  Would you?  Can we build it?

And while I am at it, I have another question for you.  I’ve noticed some blogs have a curated twitter follow list, providing a feed of select individuals.  Would you like me to include such a thing here on HopeForFilm or Truly Free Film?  Perhaps the same folks who blog articles are currently being featured?  Anyone I forgot? If so, please let me know why they should be included.

Just trying to make it all a little bit better, step by step, with your help and input.


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December 29 at 8:19am

Full Metal Jacket Diary: From Book to iPad

Today’s guest post if from actor and filmmaker Matthew Modine.  His latest project represents a nice example of  how filmmakers can encourage collaboration from other members of their team and extend their work into new realms.  In this case, even after the death of the filmmaker.

While making Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, I kept a diary. I was portraying a combat journalist, so it made sense to both Kubrick and myself to take some notes along the journey. Sometimes between set ups, Stanley would ask me to read out loud what I had entered in my small cloth-covered book. Being put on the spot like that made me realize that I’d better keep a detailed, accurate, and hopefully, entertaining description of the film’s events. Stanley also allowed me to photograph the filmmaking process. No snapshots would do on a Kubrick set. I used my beautiful 2 1/4 x 2 1/4-inch Rolleiflex camera. I made prints of a number of photographs and gave them to Stanley and the other actors as gifts. Once the filming was over, I returned to my home in NYC and put the photos and my diary in a box.

After several years, [...]


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December 28 at 8:54am

What Can Indie Film Learn From Etsy? Let’s Make A Pledge

Etsy ran at a profit for the first time last year, and the NYTimes recently ran an article examining how well they’ve managed their growth while still creating a community dedicated to having their buying habits reflect their values.  With 7 million users, revenues possibly as high as $50 million, Etsy certainly has a lot to teach other non-corporate creators.

Etsy looks at Ebay for lessons and the big takeaway appears to be to keep the focus on community and not to get hung up on increasing profits.  It has always felt to me that the major difference between Art Film or Indie Film and Hollywood’s product is the community experience.  It was the community part of the infrastructure that the industry allowed to rust as they adopted the Hollywood practice of pursuing profit margins first and foremost.  It is the community aspect that we need most to focus on if we want a sustainable creative community in this country, IMHO.

Like Etsy’s efforts to create an intimate relationship between buyers and sellers, if we want a Truly Free Film culture to flourish, we need to increase the intimacy between audiences and creators.  We need to erase those lines so it is a truly united community.  Etsy works to do this through daily emails:

Etsy is working to ensure that as the site gets bigger, it still feels more like a treasure trove of goodies than a chaotic sidewalk sale. The company sends out daily “Etsy Finds” e-mails that are usually put together by a staff member or a popular merchant. These display a handful of items arranged around a central theme or color scheme.

When I say that being a filmmaker requires being a curator, I am speaking of the responsibility of filmmakers to get others’ good work seen and appreciated.  You say you made a film in the last two years?  Well how many movies did you also actively encourage your friends, family, fans, & followers to watch? And how did you do that?  What if you made a pledge to this year write up at least two passionate pleas to watch a new truly independent film this year.  And what if you wrote in such a way that actually put in both a cultural and personal context so it might really resonate with readers.  And what if we found a way to get that out to the community?  If I got fifty pledges from filmmakers to actually do that, I will make sure we got a good platform (starting here) to launch it further.

Update:  12/28 648PM EST: It was just pointed out to me that Brian Newman ran a nice post back in November on Etsy’s doc profiles on their various artists.  It’s great work and Brian was right on with his post.


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December 24 at 8:13am

Building The Community Web-Those Already Doing This

Today’s guest post is Pt 2 of 2 from 2010 Brave Thinker Of Indie Film Sheri Candler.

I have investigated some artists already building their communities (and sustaining themselves) and thought you should use them as examples to follow.

Examples of artists who have built a community web

In addition to the Grateful Dead, a group most all of you are aware of, there are  examples of artists from many areas who have successfully built up a community around themselves and their work.

Kevin Smith is a great example. Smith says he can spend up to 9 hours a day online and started this back in 1995. He has never put his career only in filmmaking, saying he never expected THAT to last. Instead, his community has been introduced to a variety of his activities; a SModcast, comic books, stand up comedy, regular writing contributions to various magazines. Smith isn’t tied to only one avenue of revenue and in fact can make a living off many things outside of making films. He was able to pinpoint exactly what his fans liked about him early on and he reaches out to them continually. If I had to suggest something, I would ask him to allow a community aspect on his site so that fellow fans can contact each other.

Matthew Ebel is another example. [...]


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December 23 at 8:28am

Building The Community Web Around an Artist

Today’s guest post (part 1 of 2) is by 2010 Brave Thinker Of Indie Film Sheri Candler.

I think I have been promising this post for a while, ever since I wrote the New Independent Filmmaker’s Business Model. If you haven’t read that post, give it a little peruse so you can see what I am on about. The key premise is that all artists should be building a tribe (a Seth Godin term as it relates to marketing) or an engaged audience for their work. One that transitions from one project to the next throughout your career and indeed your life. These supporters will be your friends, your evangelists, your patrons and if you cultivate this relationship, you will not have need to reach a mass in order to make a comfortable living. I have been thinking though that maybe the idea should be compared to a web.

In looking through some other advice on this, I can see why some can be turned off by the idea. It seems most of the advice focuses only on how to lure people in just so you can sell them something, kind of like how the spider spins her web. It’s a strategy I guess, but that isn’t what I am going to tell you to do here. I am a firm believer that self promotion is about helping other people. What I propose is offering value, sharing knowledge and genuinely wanting to connect with people and connect people you know who should know each other. Perhaps it is better described as a web, an interconnected community. One that you lead, but is dependent on everyone’s interactivity. To me that is much more palatable to an artist because it is authentic, no ulterior motive, which is refreshing in today’s society. But reciprocity does happen because it is really human nature to help someone who has helped you, in fact in this scenario, it is expected.

First elements to understand when constructing you community web: [...]


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December 22 at 8:15am

Let’s Choose Our Future

We can determine the future.  It is within our control, our power.

But you must decide, which reality do you want going forward?  And you must act to bring that choice forward.   It is a choice that effects not just your film, career, your company, or your national cultural industry, but this choice & your decision has global & long-lasting implications.

Door #1:

Massively centralized,  corporate control of the funding, production, promotion, distribution, presentation, and appreciation of culture.

Door #2:

Creators & their collaborators being able to fully support themselves through their art & work, by aligning & collaborating with specifically defined and dedicated audiences.

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December 21 at 8:15am

If I were a filmmaker going to Sundance….

Today’s guest post is by Orly Ravid of The Film Collaborative (TFC), the first non-profit, full service provider dedicated to the distribution of independent film.  Orly was featured as one of HFF’s Brave Thinkers Of Indie Film, 2010.

* This is part 1 of 3 parts to this Sundance focused blog.

* Part 2 will be written during the festival.

* Part 3 will be written in the aftermath of the glow of the fest.

If I were a filmmaker going to Sundance, and let’s say that I had a film with no recognizable press-generating cast that would be attractive to a distribution company for a large MG… What would I do? Seriously, I asked myself that question. And I realized how tempted I would be, even I, to find some sexy publicists and rockstar agents or sales company so that I could get the hot sexy sale at Sundance and make all my dreams come true.

What can a distributor do for you that you cannot do yourself with just a little bit of money, not even a lot, and some low fee consultation? And above all, what are you giving up by not building community for your film before and during the fest, instead letting other people run your show, potentially losing out on the momentum of the festival?

Let’s look at some films from Sundance last year that were in this position and the routes they took and what they may have netted. These are films that cut distribution deals of some kind and got less than wide releases from their distributors: [...]


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