Oct. 10--Ted Hope, an Academy Award-nominated film producer who became executive director of the San Francisco Film Society a little over a year ago, is stepping down at the end of the year to pursue other film-related interests.
His departure caps a rocky five years for the Film Society, which has lost three leaders in that time, two because of illness. The presenter of the annual San Francisco Film Festival, the Film Society also is known for supporting emerging filmmakers and providing special movie programs and events in the Bay Area.
"What it comes down to is that I've always been a producer and always worked for myself, and this has been a bit of a challenge for me to work with a staff of 26 and a board," Hope said. "It didn't seem fair to them."
Film producer resume
Hope came to San Francisco in September 2012 with a resume as a film producer whose independent movies have broken through to mainstream audiences. His work includes Academy Award nominees "In the Bedroom" (2001), "21 Grams" (2003) and "The Savages" (2007).
Gary Meyer, a founder of Landmark Theatres in San Francisco and the co-director of the Telluride Film Festival, said that Hope was accustomed to seeing ideas executed quickly but that "reporting to a board is a different thing."
Meyer, who has known Hope for many years, explained, "Ted came out here with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm and has realized it's not the job for him. He's an independent film producer, an entrepreneur, and he's used to putting money and a team together and moving forward. I think some of the things he wanted to do here were not going to come together as quickly as he'd like to see."
Hope and his wife, Vanessa, plan to remain in the Bay Area, where he will stay involved with the Film Society. The couple moved from New York, and Hope said he wants to make movies in San Francisco.
He will stay on as the society's executive director until the end of the year and has agreed to lead its advisory board.
The news was not a surprise to the group's board.
"There was always a risk when we hired Hope, because he didn't have experience running an organization and, in particular, a nonprofit," said Howard Roffman, the board's vice president. "But we were impressed by the kind of thinking he brought to the table about how to keep a film culture thriving."
Hope was recruited last year after Film Society board members read a posting on his blog, Hope for Film, that listed 99 things wrong with the film business and a 45-point plan for fixing it.
"If we are going to have a film culture and not just a mass-market film business driven by family films and tent poles, we need to connect those artistic films to audiences and support artists," said Hope, who is developing an app to do just that.
One of Hope's fellow film revolutionaries was Bingham Ray, his predecessor as executive director of the Film Society. Ray was the distributor for Hope's film "Happiness," and, in 2012, he was at the Sundance Film Festival on his way to a speech Hope was giving when he had a stroke. Two days later, Ray was dead at 57, just 10 weeks into the job.
Ray's predecessor, Graham Leggat, had died six months before, of cancer, at 51. Leggat had served six years as executive director.
The society's programs and festivals are scheduled into next year, and there are no plans to change anything Hope did while in the leadership chair.
The society's board has begun the search for a new director.
San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Julian Guthrie contributed to this report.
Meredith May is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: meredithmaysf
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