"It's exciting, especially because it's led by Ted Hope, who has a pretty sterling track record in terms of filmmaking and projects that he's been involved with," said Ned Benson, who made his directorial debut with "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby," released last year. Hope was the producer behind films like "Eat Drink Man Woman" and "American Splendor." The latter won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Hope will be home page at Sundance looking at films when it opens later this week, Amazon said. Director Wash Westmoreland, who made the drama "Still Alice," starring Julianne Moore, Kim Kardashian Ranks Below Ebola On Yahoo's Top 10 Searches Of 2014 for $4 million last year, said filmmakers like him could get a lift from the likes of Amazon. "Right now, in independent film, everything is crushed down to budgets below $5 million, so you end shooting in 20 days," he said. "In the next tier, there is such an expansion with the potential of projects that filmmakers are very eager for." In announcing the move Monday, Amazon Studios vice president Roy Price said: "We hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience." Production will start later this year.
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