Hope for Film: Why Diversity Matters in Filmmaking


Vanessa Hope at Ebertfest (Photo by Thompson McClellan/courtesy Ebertfest)

[Editor’s note: If we could redesign the film industry into the best possible system for the artists, the audience and the business, what would it look like? Fandor CEO Ted Hope is leading that very conversation, partnering with Reinventors and gathering influencers together for a six-part interactive web series called Reinvent Hollywood. In a separate-but-related effort, Keyframe presents four videos of Hope at this past year’s Roger Ebert Film Festival, on urgent issues facing the independent film industry.]

This is the third of a four-part series of video highlights from “The State and Future of Independent Film,” a special panel held at last month’s Roger Ebert Film Festival. In this excerpt from the panel, Vanessa Hope, filmmaker and director of the upcoming documentary All Eyes and Ears, shares her views on the need for diversity in fostering a vibrant filmmaking culture, while addressing the key challenges in doing so.

Key critical observations that Hope makes include:

There are few film scripts by women, and even fewer being produced. Hope’s first job in the film industry was in the development office of a film production company, where she read scripts and got a sense of the kinds of projects that were in consideration. “There were very few scripts by women, and they were generally not the ones being produced. So when I got into producing, I made it a point to work with women directors.”

Don’t assume anything when it comes to sustaining one’s career in filmmaking. Looking at the prospects for making films over a long term, Hope is not optimistic.. “There was a time ten years ago, twenty years ago,” Hope says, when, if you were thinking through your career logically and working your way up… “you could get to a certain point. And now it’s no longer the case.”

The problems of sustaining a filmmaking career are especially difficult for women and minorities. “Most women and minorities who aren’t already established in the business are struggling to find their audience,” Hope says. “And it’s a shame because I think their voices should be heard.”

Hope’s husband, Fandor CEO and film producer Ted Hope, added his own observations with regard to the problems of diversity in film culture, pointing out that diversity of culture and content is undermined by the forces of a market economy. Hope places his optimism in niche films that can fulfill audience needs that mass market films can’t. But he also believes that there needs to be a new set of players willing to create a new system for such niche films to truly thrive.

Hear more from Vanessa and Ted on these issues by watching the video.


Did you like this article?
Give it a vote for a Golden Bowtie


Keyframe is always looking for contributors.

"Writer? Video Essayist? Movie Fan Extraordinaire?

Fandor is streaming on Amazon Prime

Love to discover new films? Browse our exceptional library of hand-picked cinema on the Fandor Amazon Prime Channel.