Tag: Streaming

The Streaming Services War Has Begun

It’s been a busy few days in Hollywood: the historic 20th Century Fox studio was absorbed into the Mouse House, and Apple announced its long-anticipated foray into video streaming services. Streaming platforms – mostly Netflix – have been major troublemakers in the film and television industries in recent years.

Film festivals are not quite sure what to do with films that were made for streaming platforms (Cannes hates them, most of the others like them). And it’s been debated what type of awards considerations those films should get – but more on that later. Now that the biggest company in the world is entering the arena, it looks like the war for the viewer’s attention has begun for good.

The streaming services market is crowded

Apple’s arrival in the streaming services market has been anticipated for some time. When it hit the trade papers that Reese Witherspoon had sold a series to the biggest company in the world, eyebrows were raised – with concern more than surprise. If established talent like that goes to Apple, does that mean that Netflix is no longer an exception?

In this case, there are several factors that we need to take into account. Netflix has been a major troublemaker in the film and television market since it moved its service online, and dramatically more so since it started creating content. They convinced major cinematic talent that the grass was indeed greener on a smaller screen, with David Fincher being the first to hop the fence to make House of Cards. It was only a matter of time before they moved into movies, and later into prestige movies, movies that were actually good and award-worthy. Resistance to this has been staunch, recently led by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

Amazon also moved into the market with Amazon Prime Video, albeit with much less truculence than Netflix. Those two are the only major legal options for SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) that operate on a global level. Netflix boasts that it can drop content in 190 territories in a heartbeat – and they won’t let you forget it.

One thing we have to remember, however, is that this market is very much run from the United States: an American ecosystem with a global impact. The streaming market in the United States is more fragmented than in the rest of the world, as viewers have to choose between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO. And soon there will be more choice.

The new kids in town

Netflix has an edge when it comes to the cultural impact of its content: its need for content is, if anything, as much of a reason for their broad range of films and series, as their political stance to showcase diversity. You don’t “Amazon Prime Video and chill”. One thing you also don’t do is “Disney and chill” unless you want to utterly destroy your and someone else’s childhood memories.

But it will soon be an option. Disney announced the launch of Disney+ in late 2019, the Mouse House’s streaming services, where all of its historical content (and now Fox’s as well) will be available. Disney is emblematic for distributing American content worldwide, thus being the main culprit for global tastes becoming mainstream, and it is certain that it will continue to be so once it rolls out Disney+ globally. TV shows based in the Marvel and Star Wars universes are already in the works. What will happen to Hulu, which Disney now owns 60% of, is up for grabs.

And now Apple has officially announced its launch around the same time. It has recently been Apple’s strategy to expand from hardware to services, as people are realising that it may not be necessary to spend £1,000 each year for a new phone. Apple Music was the first foray into those services. It was fitting for the company, as music is in its DNA, and it was the main agent of the disruption that the music industry underwent fifteen years ago. It is now an agent of the similar disruption affecting the film and television industries.

Apple is stepping into the arena with heavy artillery: for its announcement, Tim Cook enlisted the support of Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, and the big guns: the high priestess of daytime television Oprah Winfrey, and the legendary Steven Spielberg, producer of prestige television entertainment.

The latter’s appearance was a pointed slap at Netflix: Spielberg has been a vocal critic of Netflix’s foray into filmmaking, and his partnership with Apple (while indeed just in television) certainly sheds a different light into his recent statements against Netflix.

The war begins

2019 is the year where the global war of streaming services will begin. The US market is already crowded, and the rest of the world is going to experience what that’s like when Disney and Apple roll out their services in the autumn. No one knows the power of an a-ha moment like Oprah, and she’s about to get the whole world to experience it. The Queer Eye guys will no longer be the only ones to make us ugly cry.

It is going to take a lot for Apple to get as zeitgeisty, but its starting position seems incredibly strong to challenge Netflix. We also shouldn’t forget that Apple has an advantage: they already are in everyone’s hands with iPhones and iPads, and can roll out its television service instantaneously to their existing customers. This is an advantage that they have with Apple Music and that Spotify recently complained about to the European Union arguing it was an unfair advantage.

Disney doesn’t lack might when rolling out films or television series either. We’re getting ready for the clash of the Titans.

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our OpinionTagged with: , , , , ,

8 Streaming Websites For Independent Films You May Not Know

Seeking more film festival vibes and inspiring visions in your ordinary life? If you can’t attend festivals as much as you would like to or you don’t have the luxury of small distribution in your town, some streaming websites could be a surprising and affordable solution. You just need to know where to look! The following list is for cinephiles trying to catch up movies screened at worldwide film festivals and up to dive in brave, experimental or arthouse movies, maybe obscure and underrated, directly from their couch. If you are a filmmaker considering a streaming service to spread your work, some of these websites are openly calling for entries to their growing catalogue.

I didn’t include in the list some platforms not available in the UK, as well as already well-known giants such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. They are actually offering good opportunities to independent filmmakers by giving them visibility to a broader audience (thanks to the popularity of the service itself). However, they often hide some gems in the depth of their huge libraries. Even if they have quality indie films, including some from Raindance’s past editions, these websites don’t always offer the easiest way to discover them.

What is great about the following websites, instead, has not so much to do with the quantity, but with the quality of the movies. They carefully select and highlight their contents, sometimes also through a blog or an online magazine, so they can inspire your visions and guide you inside their libraries. Let’s begin!

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MUBI: Watch and Discover Movies

Scrolling MUBI‘s library feels almost like reading through a festival programme. Only 30 hand-picked arthouse films are available at once: every midnight the oldest one is removed, leaving space for a new entry. With your subscription you can rent films from their library at a discounted price, and in the UK and Ireland your MUBI subscription also includes a free cinema ticket for a hand-picked film every week with MUBI Go. What is great about MUBI is that your choice is limited by a highly curated selection, with some exclusive contents and many gradually released ‘Specials’ on directors, countries, movements and themes, that allow you to discover pure gems from all over the world. You can share lists, comment and rate movies, read their magazine and become part of a film buffs community. This month, between a series of ethnographic fictions, a focus on a couple of film festivals and a retrospective on the South Korean director Hong Sang-soo, you can also spot the striking and BIFA-winning Tyrannosaur by Paddy Considine.

 

Festival Scope

Festival Scope Pro, a streaming service dedicated to film professionals, recently created a great platform for everybody to stream films from the festival circuit, some of them during their premiere by purchasing tickets, and some others from curated ‘Collections’ of past editions even for free. You have just to register and book your virtual place. The catalogue is short and very changeable, since it depends on the programme of festivals and, if you are not quick enough, the films can get sold out. This website is gold for film lovers who want to tour the world in search of undistributed films screened both at prestigious and small film festivals. You can enjoy from a distance tasty bites of Cannes, Venice, Locarno, Fribourg, Montreal and be helped in your choice by information about authors, premieres and awards.

 

SHUDDER | Stream Horror, Thrillers, and Suspense Ad-Free and Uncut

Shudder is a platform is for horror, thriller and suspense fans, who are looking for underground, provocative and niche chilling films and TV series, both recently released and cult ones. The interface looks pretty much like Netflix, but with more gore, monsters and psychopaths in the covers. It features dozens of thematic collections, pretty specific and inspiring, such as ‘A Woman’s touch’, ‘Comedy of Terrors’, ‘Nordic Night’, ‘Diabolical Documentaries’, ‘Weird Science’, ‘Eco-Terror and Animal Attacks’, plus a few hand-picked selections by Guest Curators, currently including UK director and Raindance ex-juror Alice Lowe. In her picks there is the BIFA nominee Let the Right One In (one of our Must-watch Indie Horror Films).

 

Docsville

For the documentary addicted, Docsville could be a little heaven. It includes independent documentaries from all over the world, roughly divided according to the subject, with a spotlight on ‘Merely remarkable’ and ‘Most popular’. First-hand perspectives from Africa, Asia and South America enrich the more expected American and British works. It could be challenging to choose a film, because, unlike other streaming services, this one briefly presents the movies, without particularly categorising them or highlighting their quality or recognitions. If you look closely on the covers, you can spot laurels and pick acclaimed documentaries premiered in film festivals, but you also may try totally undiscovered films about attractive topics and let be guided by your instinct and your curiosity.

 

IndiePix Unlimited | Independent Movies on Demand

IndiePix is an independent film distribution and streaming service which offers a remarkable collection of award-winning films from the festival circuit around the world. Key words are ‘visionary, universal and daring’: in these highly-curated selection you can find many gems with a stress on global issues, such as ‘Women’s Empowerment’, ‘African/Diaspora’ and ‘Eye-opening Docs’, or feature films that celebrate diversity and provide distinctive stories. If you could be interested in a post-apocalyptic, Surrealist science-fiction romance from Ethiopia, this is the place for you. A brilliant experimental psychological thriller premiered at Raindance, Exhibit A. by Dom Rotheroe, is currently in the library. Pay attention, filmmakers: IndiePix is looking for top-quality films and it openly calls to submit your own movie.

 

BFI Player

Great global cinema on demand is available on the BFI Player, which allows you to rent, purchase a subscription or explore its archive for free, including some alluring collections. The quality of films is unquestionable, they are generally acclaimed classical movies with a distribution already, but also independent titles or collections, such as ‘Classic American Indie’, which includes some great directorial debuts and powerful, political, provocative or eccentric films, such as the electrifyig drama Heaven Kows What by Joshua Safdie or the daring look at the anatomy of America war-making of Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki.

 

SnagFilms

SnagFilms is a totally free streaming service with some ads, but, most importantly, a suprisingly good offer of movies, with a wide selection of documentaries and nicely organised collections, such as ‘Celebrating Pride’, ‘Before they were stars’, ‘Festival Favourites’, ‘Politics’, plus a ‘Global Lens’ on many different countries. Lots of gems from Sundance Film Festival, such as the controversial indie drama L.I.E., by Michael Cuesta and Kinyarwanda by Alrick Brown on the Rwandan genocide, or the the BIFA-winning Broken, by Rufus Norris.

 

IndieFlix – Movies for Independent Thinkers

Proudly striking the accent on “independent thinking”, as its tagline states, IndieFlix is the Netflix for brave explorers of obscure independent cinema. Less selective than other similar services, it has a huge library and the quality could not always be guaranteed, but the offer is very rich and you can consider the featured staff picks or read their blog if you do not know where to start. Every genre is well represented and there is a collection called ‘Social Impact’ for committed documentaries. If you are thinking to spread your work on a streaming platform, IndieFlix could be a nice option.

 Enjoy!

Filed under: Festivals, Web ContentTagged with: , ,