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“Good Movies Don’t Get Seen:” Ted Hope at EbertFest

“I don’t actually think it’s worth my time to make movies right now,” said producer and Fandor CEO Ted Hope at an EbertFest panel last month. “If I really want to see a vibrant, ambitious film culture,” he continued, “I can help a lot more by trying to build a better infrastructure.” Keyframe Daily, the blog imprint of Fandor, is running a four part series from this conversation, the first of which was posted yesterday.

In this excerpt, Hope puts forth six key issues which he hopes to address for the betterment of the independent film industry:

1. Independent film needs a better infrastructure. More people can make movies than ever before, and yet it’s become harder than ever to get people to see them.

2. It’s more difficult than ever before to actually earn a living creating. A big part of this is due to a culture of individualism that may actually be harmful to films and the film industry. A more collective or collaborative approach to production and distribution may yield better results.

3. We have an industry that is based on antiquated concepts that no longer apply to the world we’re living in. We live in a globalized, digital era of overabundance that is effectively devaluing the supply of new creative work, but many people in the film business still act as if they are still working in a pre-digital era of independent distribution.

4. The marketplace for today’s filmmaking talent is over-saturated. U.S. audiences see only one percent of the world’s supply of new films each year.

5.  Today’s filmmakers are also competing with the past. Access to past content is greater than ever. A person today can access more films from 1967 than someone in 1967 could.

6. Today’s content can give viewers more than just passive consumption. Filmmakers need to think of how their content can engage their audience in ways that other content cannot.

None of the above is necessarily new news. Critical conversation in the last few months has continually concerned how to best sift through the glut of films and shine a light on what (subjectively) matters. It is the means to this end, this new infrastructure, that few seem to be really hitting upon. Whether it’s something that can be achieved through more careful curation of distribution channels — some may argue we’re over-saturated in that market as well — remains to be seen. Here’s hoping that in the forthcoming talks, Hope offers his ideas for solutions to these key issues.

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