Fandor's Ted Hope on Getting Into Episodic TV

Ted Hope - P 2014
Courtesy of Brigade Marketing

Ted Hope - P 2014

The movie streamer sees an opening as indie film competes with cable dramas for audiences

Television, in the throes of a new golden age, has veteran film producer and Fandor CEO Ted Hope looking to get into the series business.

"I've felt for a long time, as you start to see indications of this, that we will start to develop a market for independently produced episodic content," Hope told the Merging Media 5 conference in Vancouver. Fandor, the subscription streaming service that specializes in indie films, now has features or short films.

But Hope points to SXSW Episodic, a festival showcase for innovative new TV dramas, and the Sundance Institute's Episodic Story Lab for emerging cable TV and online platform writers, as places to pilot and finance stories for a global audience. "There's a lot of good work that needs a festival to get seen," Hope said.

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The question of whether festivals and movie portals should play in the episodic TV space had support this week at a digital conference where being platform agnostic is prized. Sundance TV vp digital media and marketing Drew Pisarra said having TV shows in festivals and on film streaming services makes sense when episodic dramas often equate with cinematic quality.

"This is the golden age of TV, and it makes sense that the [film] format had to expand and to look at TV as in some ways an evolution of film," Pisarra told The Hollywood Reporter. Brian Seth Hurst, CEO of The Opportunity Management Company, said episodic fare like Showtime's monster drama Penny Dreadful, from three-time Oscar nominee John Logan (Hugo, Skyfall, Gladiator), underlines how TV is increasingly dipping into the film auteur well.

Therefore, having TV dramas developed or showcased by festivals and movie portals like Fandor can build communities for serialized dramas between seasons, just as those venues have long done the same to sustain movie franchises. "If you get a second season of something, you're going to bridge the gap with that community," Hurst said.