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in Filmmaking
on Oct 20, 2006

Ted Hope was honored tonight out at the Hamptons International Film Festival with its annual Hamptons/Indiewire Industry Toast. The producer of over 50 movies (and an old and good friend), Hope was given this mid-career honor for producing a body of work that, so far, includes films by, among many others, Ang Lee, Nicole Holofcener, Michel Gondry, Ed Burns, Hal Hartley, and Todd Solondz; the creation of pioneering production companies (Good Machine and now This is That); leading several industry initiatives, including the indie battle against the MPAA screener ban; and, as James Schamus quite eloquently summarized at the evening’s end, years spent mentoring, developing the careers of and bringing together so many of us in the independent community.

But before James’s moving tribute there was plenty of good humor as the various speakers tried to figure out on what side of the “toast/”roast” divide to place themselves. Rosie Perez emcee’d and opened with a tale of first hearing Ted (his nasal twang was much parodied this evening) before meeting him on a set one day. Producer Ross Katz, who began his career at Good Machine, remembered boss Ted “taking him out for a slice” after a grueling day at the office. Todd Solondz had some great one-liners, John Waters, Anne Carey, Anthony Bregman and Diana Victor also spoke, and Ang Lee and Hal Hartley sent their respects in the form of a video message from the set in China and a short film made in Berlin, respectively. And before he got to the heartfelt stuff (“I owe more to Ted than anyone else here does,” he began), James brought the house down by reading a very, very funny set of fictitious emails that my paraphrasing couldn’t begin to do justice to.

It was great to hear Indiewire’s Eugene Hernandez cite Ted’s lacerating 1995 essay “Indie Film is Dead… Long Live Indie Film,” (along with James’s bemused counterpoint) which both appeared in Filmmaker as providing the impetus for him to start Indiewire. I owe Ted much thanks too for not only launching me in the producing business but also for all the passionate advice and inspiration he’s given to Filmmaker over the years.

I wish Ted another 20 years of great producing, and I hope he comes up with a much-needed sequel to that brutally honest essay before too much more time passes. I’ll end with Ted himself, quoted here in Indiewire:

“I really believed I would never get to make movies,” Hope said, his voice crackling during a speech that was filled with emotion at the end of the night. “I thought it was some club you had to get admitted to,” he said, adding later, “I am thankful I got to make movies, I hope it keeps on happening.”

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