He calls his workshops Hope For Film. And for one of America's leading independent producers, whose almost 70 films include The Ice Storm, Happiness, In The Bedroom, American Splendour, 21 Grams and Martha Marcy May Marlene, it is not just a pun on Ted Hope's name.
The optimistic message he brought to Australian filmmakers last week is that great opportunities exist as entertainment shifts from mass-market cinema to niche online communities, particularly for what he calls "intelligent stories that sing with emotional truth".
Hope works outside the Hollywood system he describes as based on predictability and maximising returns.
"Never before have we had the ability to do exactly the opposite – to take risks, to experiment and to focus on super-niche audiences instead, opening up a whole wide range of story choices, content and methods of expressing oneself," he says.
"As people are exposed to a greater diversity, their tastes start to alter."
Hope believes audiences have been behaving like the March Hare in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, confusing "I like what I get" with “I get what I like” , but that can change.
"We haven't been exposed to a wide variety of stories or methods of telling them. We become accustomed to appreciate what we're served and wanting to fit in with those that we're with – they like it, so we like it too.
"You see in the music world already how the movement away from mass market content has affected things. There used to be five basic genres of music, which were defined as rock, jazz, classical [etc]. Now not only are there, like, 342 but the people that appreciate them, appreciate them all at the same time."
For filmmakers outside Hollywood, Hope says there is a future making low-cost films for a relatively small online audience that is fostered through social media – by authentic engagement.
"You see people in the music world frequently putting out different versions of their songs, giving it away for free, engaging their fanbase into something of a real dialogue," he says.
Rather than just relying on Facebook and Twitter, Hope believes crowdfunding web sites such as Kickstarter, which seek grassroots finance for creative projects, can connect with like-minded people who want to support culture.
"It's really easy to have a direct address to those folks now," he says.
As an example of how filmmakers can make a career away from cinema release , Hope cites the New York director Ed Burns (The Brothers McMullen, She's The One ) who, out of frustration, has gone back to making micro-budget films based around sharing ideas and content on social media.
"His audience really responded to it and made it a very profitable venture for him," Hope says. "He didn't have a film that was going to win Cannes, he had a film [in which] part of its pleasure for his audience is that they feel they could make it too."
Burns's online viewers have liked that his films, including Purple Violets and Nice Guy Johnny, feel like real people experiencing what they are going through in their lives.
"He's able to measure now the size of his audience, what they want, how much they're willing to pay to build a really sustainable business model," Hope says. "He's freer now than he's ever been before and can continue to produce work."
Hope says he is often asked how to make films that work around the world.
Outside the Hollywood mainstream, his advice is that "specific" stories work best.
"The truer you can be to a community – and individuals in particular – the more universal it becomes."