The NZFC has announced in Cannes the launch of its Films on Demand (FOD) service. The service kicks off with a small number of titles on offer: 15 features, including some documentary titles, and seven shorts. All are offered in SD only.
In his presentations and interviews since taking on the CEO job, Dave Gibson has often spoken about helping NZ titles to reach their audiences. FOD (which really does need a better name and some branding) represents an important plank of that strategy.
Making the announcement in Cannes, Dave Gibson reinforced the point, saying, “We want all New Zealand films – past, present and future – to reach as many people as possible and the Films On Demand platform is a key part of this ambition.”
The featured title for the launch is Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table, appropriately for a launch at the edition of Cannes while she’s presiding over the jury. Presumably the rights for Campion’s two Cannes winners, short Peel and feature The Piano, weren’t available, but six other Cannes-selected titles are available on launch.
The pricing might be a challenge. Most of the shorts are priced at $1.99; most of the features at $4.99 – around the same price DVD versions of older titles go for in video store bargain bins. However, those bargain bins are not necessarily immediately accessible when the urge to relive Goodbye Pork Pie strikes. That is the major selling point of an on demand service.
What will help make it a success will be finding newer NZ releases on there. Even if they’re priced higher than the two tiers of catalogue pricing currently used, newer titles will drive traffic and income, including from people who don’t go to the cinema.
The underlying technology of the platform was developed by Hamilton, New Zealand-based company Indiereign, one of only a handful of companies around the world certified in Google’s Digital Rights Management technology. Elements of FOD resemble IndieReign’s own service. Other elements resemble the model NZ On Screen, for example the intention to offer curated selections and event programming.
So, what can we expect going forward?
At present, the only option on offer is to rent a title for viewing in SD. The option to buy and download is on the way, as are apps for iOS, Android, Desktop and Smart TV’s. As deals are worked out, viewing will also become possible from outside of NZ.
The NZFC’s Films On Demand service is here.