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November 28 at 8:15am

Who Did What For Me: Generosity, Guidance, & Support

It’s a bit hard thinking through what actually constitutes “good” within an industry.  A lot of our “job” is to make things better, to introduce people, to facilitate deals and stronger projects.  Generosity is about going that extra step — doing the thing that is not expected and that truly helps.

It’s Thanksgiving here in America.  It’s an odd holiday and even if it’s origins are not the greatest, I still dig the spirit.  Today I try to examine those that helped me when they did not need to, or whose help was beyond the call of duty [...]


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October 3 at 12:17pm

As Schamus Moves On, Let’s Tie One On (A Bowtie That Is…)

We haven't aged a bit!

We haven’t aged a bit!

I don’t think we can get a clearer marker that times have fully changed in the Film Biz than James Schamus leaving Focus Features.  And this is a curve that is not in a positive direction.

With his bow tie no longer the Focus brand, we can firmly say that the corporate suits see no business in art. James made money from beauty, found gold by reaching higher, [...]


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February 9 at 8:18am

Answering The Questions: “How do I make sure that in twenty years I will feel good about the choices I make today?”

Earlier this year I proposed what I saw as the five most critical questions for someone to answer in order to have a fulfilling and sustainable career producing films.  I went on to list out eighteen more. I think the answers to these questions don’t have a right or wrong answer; they should be profoundly personal.  Yet I also think it is very hard to answer these questions on your own.  Frankly, I think the answering of these questions should be part of any film school curriculum — but I am also not sure that film school is a necessary component for all producing careers.  Anyway, I thought it might be helpful for those considering this path to have someone try to answer these questions.  Today that someone is me.

Producing benefits from having addressed certain moral and ethical challenges before they actually confront you.  Hell, what field or way of life doesn’t?  I have encouraged the consideration of some of these “challenges” before in virtual party game manner, but I do think it is always worth considering.  I think it comes down to the questions of “what do you value?”  People? Money? Principles? Property?  And how much do these matter to you?

If you’ve set your values — or at least have a firm handle on them–, if you then seek to make the product of your labor (i.e for a film producer, your movies) reflect your values, you will be on your way to still feeling good about what you are doing twenty years from now. Essentially this is the “Know-what-you-care-about-and-reflect-that-in-your-work” approach.  But it alone is not enough to carry you through the twenty years.  It is the content driven approach and you will have to also consider the process and the environment you inhabit to stay satisfied.

To feel as good twenty years from now as you do today (and that is assuming you feel good today of course), it is not just [...]


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January 28 at 8:15am

The Triumphant Return of Good Machine

Yes, it is true.  Good Machine is back.  But in a new and improved form.  Perhaps we should have done a press release, but I thought I should do it here instead.  Press releases are so yesterday.

If you went to Sundance, perhaps you noticed the secret stealth return of our so-called 90′s powerhouse.  Or if you were at the Golden Globes, it must have caught your eye.  Hell, even if you just watched the Golden Globes.  If you missed all that, certainly by perusing the Oscar noms, something should have caused a bit of stir.  I’ve been waiting for some sharp newshound to break with the story, but nope.  So here’s the real buzz… [...]


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January 13 at 8:22am

Most Read HopeForFilm Posts Of 2010

I wasn’t sure what to call this post. “Top Posts”? “Most Popular”? They are not necessarily the most engaging, as they don’t always correspond with the “most commented” — if that qualifies for engaging that is… But I thought it would make some sense to see what was the most viewed.  I thought I would learn from it.

One of the things that I am proud of regarding this blog is the fact that it has become a community forum.  I learn from the comments people post.  I have made new friends from such comments (and identified a few I hope to avoid!).  It’s been really great how much people contribute, and I love that almost half the most popular posts are from folks other than myself.

So, what were HopeForFilm/TrulyFreeFilm’s most read post of the past year?  Surprisingly, they are all quite recent.

38 More Ways The Film Industry Is Failing Today – With over 10,000 views this clearly hit a nerve.  Everyone likes lists, but I like to think  so many folks went to this for a dose of preventive medicine.  We are going to conquer this right?

Ten Things To Do Before You Submit A Script – Getting your script read by the right people will always be a challenge.  As will making the best film you are capable of.  We all need advice, and I probably can come up with a few more posts like this.  You certainly want it.  I have listened.  I hope the advice was helpful!

The Hard Truth: Filmnaking Is Not A Job – I aim to be 100% truthful about what I do.  I want to demystify what producers do.  I think the readers of this blog and the community around it that you have built wants us all to say like it is.  I must confess that occasionally I let the struggle of getting movies made and seen, get me down.  Fortunately I get great support from my wife and friends, yet nonetheless sometimes I produce posts like this one!

The Good Machine No Budget Commandments- Oldies can be [...]


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November 28 at 9:42am

What Makes A Good Partnership?

The NYTimes Sunday Magazine has a must-read article on my former Good Machine partner James Schamus. The author, Carlo Rotello, does a thorough job on the difficult task of capturing most of the complexity that makes James someone that is fun to collaborate with: he is not easily defined, has many interests (sometimes conflicting), and enjoys deeply both the process and the product.  People so often look for people they get along with to collaborate with; I think that is is mistake.  Harmony may work in other types of relationships, but in a creative one, it is a formula for mediocrity.   If you truly care about the end result of your work, you should look for someone you enjoy arguing with to partner with.

Rotello sums up our Good Machine partnership by defining David Linde as the business mind, Schamus the intellectual, and me “Hope, an advocate of radically decentralized media democracy, was the revolutionary;”.  I like how that sounds, but what really worked at Good Machine, and in other creative relationships, is when people can argue clearly and without ego for what they feel will make a story work best.  Trust is the next most required ingredient in a successful partnership, quickly followed by a willingness to accept that you may not be right (that non-ego thing again). [...]


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July 21 at 8:09am

The Good Machine No-Budget Commandments

Good Machine logo

Back in the day, back when indie film was a workable financial enterprise, back before I ran the San Francisco Film Society, back before there was a Double Hope, back before I was part of This is that, I had a production company called Good Machine. James Schamus and I founded it together, and we later partnered with David Linde. Mary Jane Skalski and Anthony Bregman were also partners, and we had the good fortune to work with a host of other talents including my later partners Anne Carey and Diana Victor, and Ross Katz, Glen Basner, Heta Paarte, Lamia Guelatti, Melinka Thompson-Gody, Jean Castelli, Kelly Miller, Dan Beers, Eric Papa, Jawal Nga, and many other later-legends to be.

As good as the films we made, as great as the individuals we got to collaborate with, we also had a genuine fondness for memos and how-to’s. Those were the days when you stored things in file cabinets.  The 90′s are in boxes now in my garage.  Once things went digital, it as if they are lost.  I stumble through less.  When they were paper I occasionally had the pleasure of sorting through the files, finding choice nuggets. My madeleines… like this.

[...]


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