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San Francisco Film Festival Trains Filmmakers to Become Entrepreneurs

| May 3, 2013
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By Cy Musiker

Traditional distributors aren’t offering much to filmmakers these days, slashing the amount they offer for the right to show a movie in North America.

56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival

56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival

But during this 56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival, a new program aims to help independent artists advance their work on their own, through a workshop that offers training on how to navigate the new digital marketplace.

Ted Hope is executive director of this year’s event, and he’s the producer of more than 60 films, including “American Splendor” and “Dark Horse.”

Hope said the job is like being a serial entrepreneur, so he wanted the festival to show filmmakers how to develop their own business skills.

“It seems prestigious to have a distributor with a name brand want to bring your film out,” Hope said. “But meanwhile, all those people invested their money and their labor in your film — your three years of life that you gave to that movie. It will never be earned back.”

So A2E, the Artist to Entrepreneur program, will show filmmakers how to distribute their movies themselves — in theaters, video on demand, through iTunes and other channels.

Hope said it’s “direct from the creator to the community.”

Adam Collis, director of the 2000 film “Sunset Strip,” is attending A2E. He said he likes how Hope is inspiring filmmakers to think like business people.

“Filmmakers need to deliver rewards that are commensurate with the level of risk that investors take,” Collis said.

And they have to deliver, Collis said, if they want to convince investors to back their next project.

“That’s what makes that investor say, ‘I have confidence in you. I’d likeĀ  to invest in anotherĀ  film. I trust your creative vision. Do your thing.’ ”

Collis’ next project is “Car Dogs” — a father-and-son story set in a used car lot.

The A2E workshop continues through Sunday.

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