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Posts Tagged ‘Ted Hope’

“Begin with the end in mind.”
—Stephen Covey 
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Even in the mist of the second largest theater chain (Regal) announcing this month that they are temporarily closing all their theaters due to the coronavirus, Ted Hope is still optimistic for the future of movies.

“You really need to define for yourself what matters in life. What are your values? . . . Defining those values is really key. Because at the end if you’re going to do good work you have to plan for the long haul. . . . I’m super excited about what’s coming [to the film business]. I’m really excited. And that’s hard to do because not everyone in this in this field, in this art form, in this business and enterprise, and certainly in this world and in this country, are actually good people. Big surprise, right? I think people aspire to do good work, but there’s a lot of people that are liars and cheats, misanthropes and malcontents, egotist and narcissists. The industry attracts a lot of that—people who want the success without doing the work, and you have to be able to not let that bring you down. So you need to understand how you’re going to be advancing your own values, bringing things closer to the world that you want. Surrounding yourself with the people that you care about, and who are similarly motivated. And you’re not going to do that unless you start to define it.”
—Producer Ted Hope
Ted Hope: Master Class in Film Producing interview with Anthony Kaufman

Hope’s words match well producer Lawrence Turman’s quote on ethics from the post Pursue Your Dreams and Don’t Be Afraid to Trying to Inspire, to Lead, and to Exalt.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“I do take a personal approach first. I’m not so much market-based. In a place like Amazon, where everyone is employed verses as opposed to self-employed, does have certain business mandates you’re trying to fill and address. But on a much more personal level, the first question is, How do I feel?What kind of response does it elicit in me? And there’s a handful of things that we immediately look for. I’m asking myself, am I going to be as excited about unlocking the mysteries that are contained within three to five years down the road as I am at this moment? Like the longevity— almost like a relationship. You have to look at the movie and interrogate it;  Is there enough to keep you hungry for a long time to unlock those pleasures?  For me, that often comes down to— I’m a very thematic-based individual— I look for what is in this? Whether it’s a design for living, or an overall philosophy. My team at Amazon sometimes teases me that I get fixated on certain themes, and I’m starting to see it. I very much like stories where’s it’s about me seeing you and you seeing me. When do we know that we’re actually recognized? How do we find our authentic self? I like stories about that. I like questions about the transformative power of love. I like that as a theme in movies.  Really what I’m getting at is I’m looking at something that is going to keep me leaning forward, engaged with the film, my mind spinning, my emotions stimulated, and I know that when it’s over I’m going to be compelled to talk about it with my friends that I’ve seen it with. I want to be heavily engaged and get a bit of a workout —whether it’s emotional, intellectual,  or visceral.”
Producer Ted Hope (Manchester by the Sea, Cold War)
Woodstock FilmFest, “Virtual Films & Conversations” 

Related posts:

Define What You Love & Ted Hope’s List of ‘32 Qualities of a Better Films’ 
‘Helping Others Rarely Hurts Anyone, Particularly Yourself’— Ted Hope 
Ted Hope on Finding a Safe Harbor from Liars and Cheats
40 Days of Emotions 
‘My Formula for the Perfect Sundance Film’—Producer Ted Hope
Ted Hope on Finding a Film’s Theme
‘A new and vibrant cinema’—Ted Hope
‘If I ran a film school…’—Ted Hope

Scott W. Smith 

 

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Ted Quotes

 


Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 7.24.02 PM

Yesterday producer Ted Hope (@tedhope.fanpage on Facebook) gave a nice shout-out to this blog, so I thought I’d use that to wrangle together 10 Hope-centric quotes from various places. Many are from his Hope for Film book.

‘A new and vibrant cinema’—Ted Hope 
‘If I ran a film school  …’ — Ted Hope
You vs. Kurosawa (and the History of Cinema)
Ted Hope on Finding a Film’s Theme
My Formula for the Perfect Sundance Film—Ted Hope
Ted Hope on Finding a Safe Harbor from Liars and Cheats 
‘Helping others rarely hurts anyone, particularly yourself’—Ted Hope
Define What You Love & Ted Hope’s List of ‘32 Qualities of a Better Film‘
‘A Quiet Place‘…  in Iowa 
The Case for Making a Not So Good Film

His blog Hope for Film—with a focus on the business side of filmmaking—is still online, but not updated anymore because he’s too busy with his role at Amazon. But he’s active on his Facebook fan page so check that out for his wisdom, inspiration, filmmaking experiences and film recommendations.

And if you want short Ted (Hope) Talk, here you go:

Scott W. Smith

 

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I know there is a lot of noise and distractions out there— in regard to finding filmmaking information and inspiration—but I’m enjoying producer Ted Hope’s Facebook posts recently. Here’s just a short excerpt from yesterday’s post.

“To make a great film, you generally have to make a good one first — and to make the good one, you have to make a not-so-good one even before that. Sure, the exceptions come out of the gate strong, but that is not most of us, and certainly not the ones who have to run the long distance race.”
Ted Hope,  Amazon Studios
Facebook post 8/20/18

P.S. The best example of that is Quentin Tarantino. His first feature film was not Reservoir Dogs—that was his first completed feature film. Before that he spent three to eight years (reports vary) shooting and editing  My Best Friend’s Birthday which was never completed.  Along with watching movies, Tarantino considers that his film school. It’s estimated that he spent $5,000 on My Best Friend’s Wedding—which makes for a pretty inexpensive film school.

Related posts:
‘If I ran a film school…’—Ted Hope
Start Small…But Start Somewhere
‘A new and vibrant cinema’—Ted Hope
Failure, Failure—Wild Success (Larry David’s Journey to Co-creating ‘Seinfeld’)

Scott W. Smith

 

 

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“Growing up in Ohio was just planning to get out.”
Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (who grew up in Akron)

At the end of Ted Hope’s book Hope  for Film he has an appendix that lists 141 Problems and Opportunities for the Independent World. The list flowed from a blog post he wrote back in 2010.  You can find the entire list here, but I’m just going to highlight one problem today.

124. Artists cannot afford to live in our cultural centers. It’s a real Catch-22. Artists make cultural centers, but these places become too pricey for their creators to live in. If you are in the middle class, you can only afford 14 percent of the currently available homes in San Francisco. The number drops to only 2.5 percent in New York City. I love both cities, but can’t see my future in either of them as a result. And I don’t really want to move to Akron, Ohio, either (no offense intended, Akron!).
Ted Hope
Hope for Film: From the Frontline of the Independent Cinema Revolutions (p. 285)

If you don’t have wealthy parents or a trust fund to support you for a few years until you get some traction in New York or L.A. what is one to do? Many articles over the years have talked about the struggle of creative people trying to pay their bills in the big cities. And if you tack on a large film school debt, forgetaboutit.

It makes me wonder where people like Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise) would go today if they were starting out in 2018 instead of the 1970s.

I started writing this blog in 2008 after seeing Diablo Cody’s Juno and learning that she went to school in Iowa City and wrote the Juno screenplay in the suburbs of Minneapolis. She went on to move to L.A. and win an Oscar for that script. A Midwest success story.

As of this weekend, we have another Midwest success story. And, yes, one also with Iowa roots.

‘A Quiet Place’ Delivers a Not So Quiet $50 Million Opening
Box Office Mojo headline
April 8, 2018

The original screenplay for The Quiet Place was written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. After the script sold to Paramount in 2016,  John Kraninski came on board to further develop the script, and direct and star in the finished version that this past weekend finished at top of the box office.

So which “cultural center” did these guys develop their filmmaking chops? I’m glad you asked.

“Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are two screenwriters you may not have heard of yet but surely will very soon. Scott and Bryan first met as sixth-graders in their hometown of Bettendorf, Iowa. After discovering a shared interest in cinema, the duo began making stop-motion movies together with their Star Wars action figures. This collaboration continued into high school, where they directed numerous shorts and their first feature films.”
Mike Sargent
Script mag

Like Diablo Cody they also attended the University of Iowa, which is where they first came up with the idea for The Quiet Place. Just this morning both Woods and Beck were back in Iowa City giving a talk on “Exploring Careers in Cinema.” 

They’re based in L.A. now but made their first short films and Nightlight (2015) back in Iowa.

Of course, this doesn’t exactly address Ted Hope’s question that I started off this blog addressing. But the drum I’ve been hitting for the past decade is there are filmmakers rising up all over the world finding support and inspiration from their communities.

Scott W. Smith 

John

 

 

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“I think one of the best things you can do as a filmmaker (or an artist in general) is to define what you love.”
Ted Hope

The above quote and list below of “32 Qualities of a Better Film” came from a Facebook post @tedhope.fanpage earlier this month. Click here to see how Ted Hope unpacks this list in more detail.

1. Ambition

2. Originality

3. Innovation

4. Integrity To The Concept

5. Discipline

6. Truthfulness

7. Joy Of Doing

8. Singularity

9. Communication Of Themes

10. Clarity of Intent

11. Synthesis of Style & Themes

12. Application Of Techniques

13. Reality Of Actors

14. Pleasure

15. A Good Story Well Told

16. Accomplishment Within The Means

17. Awareness & Appreciation Of The World

18. Acknowledgement Of The Limits Of Feature Film Form

19. Consideration Of Effects Of Representation

20. Recognition Of Film History

21. Subversive To The Status Quo

22. Provocation Of The Audience

23. Respect For The Audience

24. Confidence In The Filmmaking

25. Restraint

26. Awareness Or Avoidance Of Pretension

27. Access To The Subconscious

28. Differentiation Among Characters & Environments

29. Leaving Some Things Unexplained

30. Emotional Use Of Technique

31. Depth Of Character / Depth of Characters

32. Impassioned Point Of View

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“Kindness is free.”
Garry Marshall
From the post Garry Marshall (1934-2016)

In lectures, I often beg people to do one thing— one simple thing— that I truly believe can change our world: Do at least one thing to help or promote another person and his or her work. That chain of support is the key to a sustainable diverse culture. We must shed the hierarchy that we have imposed upon ourselves. At public events, I am always surprised that audience members don’t introduce themselves when asking questions: It would put us all on common ground.

Filmmakers often make the common mistake of thinking they are all in competition with each other. It is not a zero-sum game. When I was just starting out, it took me a long time to realize that when I was applying for a job (as an assistant director or a line producer), the challenge wasn’t to beat someone else out for the job, but to find the best fit. Now I try to share what I have learned with others, and their responses, in turn, sharpen my focus. When a friend’s business improves, so do my opportunities. I try to introduce the people I like to the people who I know can help them. Sometimes, their success eclipses mine, and that is fantastic. I have had the joy of mentoring many individuals, watching my assistants like Anthony Bregman, Glen Basner, and others rise up the ladder and contribute to the improvement of others’ work. Community building is in all of our interests. Helping others rarely hurts anyone, particularly yourself.
Ted Hope
Hope for Film: From the Frontline of the Independent Cinema Revolutions (pp. 212-213). Soft Skull Press. Kindle Edition.

So the person I’m going to be promoting is Ted Hope. He’s been pretty prolific online writing about the past, present, and future of filmmaking so I’ll ride that wave for a while.

P.S. And a shout-out to Jon Strong whose feature doc Long Time Coming was just announced to be a part of the 2018 Florida Film Festival.

Scott W. Smith

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“You are about to enter an industry that’s filled with narcissistic, egotistical, misanthropic liars and cheats. You’d better find a safe harbor of people you trust. Being an artist is exhausting and nobody appreciates your work to the degree that you want them to… unless you have people around you that say I hear you, I see you, we are in this together, I’m going to help lift you up.”
Ted Hope
Speaking to students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts 
Amazon Studios’ Ted Hope shares principles of artistic success 

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I’m reading through Ted Hope’s book Hope for Film, From the Frontline of the Independent Cinema Revolutions (the Kindle version which I recommend) and came along this passage that he calls “My formula for the perfect Sundance Film.” I hope you find it helpful. (From pages 78-79.)

 

1. The protagonist: Center the story around an everyday person, someone the audience can identify with (not a wealthy or an evil type).

2. The plot: The protagonist needs to go through a serious arc, suffer hardship, and then come to some understanding that the audience didn’t expect.

3. Be bold: Show risk-taking in the filmmaking. Make it feel like it may all fall apart, but then save it at the last moment: People should say, “It’s bold.”

4. Be disciplined: If you can’t be bold, be disciplined. If it doesn’t fit the form, cut it out.

5. Own your aesthetic: Embrace, even flaunt, your aesthetic and the limits of your aesthetic. Don’t be ashamed of your limitations. Own your choices.

6. Engage bigger issues: The story has to be bigger than the movie itself and should deal with issues of either class conflict, gender conflict, sexual conflict, or other political issues. How do you comment on the world at large while still examining the minute and particular?

7. Cast: You need to cast a few stars or soon-to-be stars, so it should be an ensemble piece that covers generational conflict. You have the old-name actor you’re bringing back and the up-and-comer whom no one had seen yet, along with actors who can move from TV into feature films.

8. Shock value: It needs some moment of audacity, the kind of thing that people will talk about and that might even shock the uninitiated.

9. The right mix: Have a sense of humor about great tragedy— or find the tragedy in the hilarious. Embrace the cocktail; make it at least feel fresh.

10. Leave them wanting more: Shorter is better; 90 minutes is the new 120 (today, 80 is the new 90). No one ever says, “I wish it had been longer” when they leave the theater.

 

 

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The work I did with [writer/director Nicole Holofcener] on the Walking and Talking script would set the template for my standard development process with dozens of filmmakers later. In large part, it starts with a series of questions: How do you find the theme? What do you want the big takeaway from the movie to be for the audience? What do you want them to remember intellectually, and what do you want them to feel emotionally? At a certain point, Nicole came up with this image in her mind: The character Amelia (played in the film by Keener) is holding her friend Laura (played by Heche), who is getting married and starting a new way of life, afloat in the water. That, to me, was a baptismal moment of surrender and passage. It was about loving someone so much that you let her go. And that was the big takeaway of the movie in a single visual and heartfelt instant. But it was a process to get there. Once we found this telling scene, and once the theme of love as loss emerged, we had to make sure that the theme emerged elsewhere in the script.
Producer Ted Hope (The Ice Storm)
Hope for Film (with Anthony Kaufman
pp 65-66

Related posts:
Writing from Theme
Sheldon Turner on Theme
John Carpenter on Theme 
Diablo Cody on Theme 
Ryan Coogler on the Theme of Black Panther 

Scott W. Smith

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