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  • Carol Bing

    I agree with so much of this posting. We can't let the indie film industry just vanish away. It's why I started to rent movies from a site called They seem to really understand and support filmmakers and want to contribute to the growth of the industry. Yekra allows filmmakers to set the prices for distribution and helps them make more money than a traditional distribution deal so that the filmmaker can go on to do what they love most, making great films! I think anyone that supports indie filmmaking should also support the companies that help make distributing indie films easy. Check out Yekra you will love what you see!

  • Jon Jost

    I'm 69, an aging old f--t. I started making films in 1963, January, exactly 50 years ago. When I was young I helped set up the Chicago Film Coop, was one of the non-New York originators of Newsreel (lefty documentary group begun in 1967); was on the Board of Directors of Canyon Coop briefly. And worked to help so-called independent filmmakers use the Berlin Film Festival until the NY Foundation for the Arts went and copied what I was doing there. To say I've paid my dues in this aspect. Once I was (very) modestly "famous" in the tiny little circles of artsy film, mostly for the film All the Vermeers in New York, which got modest theatrical distribution in the USA, some press (Siskel and Ebert owing to my personal intervention with Ebert, who had reviewed my first 1963 film). I had a retrospective at MoMA in 1992 I think it was, (a month of programming for them which paid me $1000 !), which was replicated a number of other places. I have been called a legend blah blah, true independent (true), maverick and all the other names given to those who fail to be commercially viable. Last night, at Portland OR's alternative cinema, at the first of 5 nights of screenings of my work, exactly 5 people showed up. There was some press (very little - not commercial things basically aren't allowed press anymore), some social networking... and more or less no viewers.

    This is the reality I have seen since the early 70's, during which time there was a brief real interest in experimental etc. film (as can be seen in the flourish of work at the time, in USA and Europe). This died out rather rapidly, particularly with the advent of film courses and schools, when it became academicized, ad the creativity was sucked out of it. Going to supposed experimental/avant garde festivals the last few decades one sees pale copies of 60's-70's work mostly passed off as avant something. It is not. This went on to the American Indie phase of the 80's, most of which was not very indie, and has continued on through mumble-core etc, nearly all of these films are pale copies of commercial filmmaking without the money, and perhaps with some social/political kinks thrown in - gender stuff, ethnic stuff - but underneath the skin is it not much different than Zero Dark 30, which I went to the other night (not for pleasure, but out of duty to see what the other side is doing). It is, in that framework, brilliant filmmaking and tosses the director up on a pedestal with Leni Reifenstal (though Leni was, for her time, far more cinematically daring).

    While I would like to think the mini-viewership I had last night (composed almost completely of friends of mine who hadn't seen the films showing), was just a sign of passing fashions, etc., I actually think it is something far deeper, having to do with how a capitalist/quasi-fascist society works and censors what it does not want. I will shortly do a blog posting on this at

    Bottom line, while I appreciate Ted's efforts, experience tells me he is beating his head against a wall and his head will give in first. In my view it already did: most of the films he has produced are essentially the same old formula of theatrical cinema, essentially the same as commercial films, but lacking the umph of Hollywood - which includes control over the mass media, money (millions) for advertising, stars, and, well the whole kit and kaboodle which our system provides (so it can make things like those truly awful films I saw trailers for the other night). Our system doesn't make, say, Holy Motors (wonderful film).
    So good luck Ted. I'll probably apply for one of those filmmaker things in my former town of San Francisco. But for many complex reasons I think we went over a certain cliff a long time ago, and I doubt there's any coming back - for reasons political, economic, social.

  • Jalila Simmons

    oh Ted. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm working on a project with my husband to incorporate community building and media/filmmaking. Today is a day where it feels like is going nowhere. But its wonderful coming to and finding this article. Gives me so much motivation to push on.

  • Firm1

    Ted, this was an excellent read and a true breath of fresh air because everyone I associate with seem so apathetic to the whole creative process in filmmaking. I don't think a lot of people seem to realize the powerful implications film and media can have on society so to monopolize such a thing seems insane.

    Why not give the creative process back to the "global brain" and create production companies that utilize technology in a way that considers all kinds of creative avenues rather than recycled stories?

    I think the future will see more collaborative projects that foster a closer connection to our media. Its all an outward reflection of our selves and how we perceive the World so to distort that is irresponsible as a species.

    • Ted Hope

      It's time for radical collaboration!

  • Udy Epstein

    Current TV sold for 500 Million. For years content has been paying little to nothing for indie content – throwing the name Al Gore all over the place. Much of this content was reaped and shredded for Current TV formats. Current executives pleaded poverty while pushing a well polished sales pitch about the social roll that Current is taking on (liberal, progressive, environmental etc, etc.)
    But when it comes to indie footprint the money stayed with Al and his rich friends.

    • Ted Hope

      True, Udy, true. For the last 5+ year the plan of many well capitalized "distributors" has solely been rights aggregation. They "acquire/license" for a pittance on the promise of access to a platform and a b/e split, but the real play they are strategizing is something much closer to Content's and the filmmakers see zilch.

  • Ben Goldhirsh

    Ted, thanks for sharing this. Was so excited to open my email today and get the notification that you'd joined GOOD. And now excited to read your thoughts here. But still concerned - because I totally agree with the shifting power balance to creator, but I also feel that the distribution bottle neck is a brutal reality for those on the creation side of film, especially given the costs on the front end. Do you now approach projects with the attitude that you're going to take the film all the way to the consumer (and only sell to a distributor if they present a better option)? If so, I think that is awesome. I know that when we were making films at Reason, our consumers were the distributors, and if they passed (even if we believed in the film - e.g. Racing Dreams) we didn't have the guts/cash/know-how/time to try and tackle the ground between the finished production and individual audience members. Are you seeing models that you're trusting on to take your work all the way to the people you made it for?

    • Ted Hope

      I decided to change my life and move to producing the infrastructure that will allow this, instead of producing projects, because I think it is so crucial. I think as a non-profit the SFFS can help facilitate the transition to creator-centric model -- and it will be a win/win for all. We need a safe-house where makers can experiment and then SHARE. The focus needs to be on community -- like what you are doings so well with GOOD. Thank you!

      • Ben Goldhirsh

        just checked out the SFFS site. So awesome. Really happy for you about this and grateful for the work.