By WISE KWAI
STREAMING VIDEO is the future for independent films from Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, with new online platforms popping up to offer hard-to-find movies online, among them FilmDoo, a UK-based video-on-demand (VOD) startup that was launched at the Cannes Film Festival.
While most of FilmDoo’s “bespoke” content is available only for viewing in the UK and Ireland, FilmDoo recently made a move to attract customers in Thailand and elsewhere with a worldwide slate of titles that include “The Last Executioner”, “Mindfulness and Murder” and “Boundary”.
And it turns out, FilmDoo was co-founded by a Thai, Weerada Sucharitkul, who got into movies after university in Thailand and then studying management on scholarship at Cambridge. It was a stint as a management consultant that gave Weerada “first hand exposure to digital innovation and IT strategy”.
That was coupled with a desire to see the 2012 South Korean palace-intrigue drama “Masquerade”, which was a smash hit all over the world but for various reasons could not be seen anywhere in the UK.
“We looked at the world outside of Hollywood and realised that there are thousands of films being produced around the world every year, many of which never get seen or are heard of. That became the ethos behind FilmDoo – to bring people together through films,” says Weerada, who co-founded FilmDoo with William Page. “Ultimately, FilmDoo is also an extension of who I am. As a child of a Thai diplomat, I had the opportunity to grow up and live in 10 countries and five continents. FilmDoo unites my three passions in life – films, technology and connecting people through all things international. I am very proud and excited at the opportunity that FilmDoo is now able to play its part in helping to showcase many brilliant films from Thailand and Southeast Asia to the global community, many for the first time to be shown internationally.”
Tom Waller, the producer and director behind many of FilmDoo’s offerings, including “Last Executioner” and “Mindfulness and Murder”, has greeted the new venture with open arms.
“I welcome any streaming service that can give me films to watch legally, which I wouldn't have otherwise be able to see,” he says.
Waller’s Bangkok-based De Warrenne Pictures has made most of its catalogue available, including the Cannes-selected art-house oddball “Soi Cowboy” and the under-rated horror “Ghost of Mae Nak”.
“With FilmDoo, I decided to offer all of the titles we have distribution rights for, since this will be the first time that some titles are being distributed online in Thailand, legally that is,” says Tom. “Now you can watch all the films we produced in Thailand. Some of the titles are available worldwide for the first time with English subtitles, such as ‘Mindfulness and Murder’ and ‘The Last Executioner’, and older titles like ‘Butterfly Man’ and ‘The Elephant King’, which people may have missed, can hopefully enjoy a renaissance online.”
Weerada reckons VOD platforms like FilmDoo will become important parts of the revenue stream for indie filmmakers, citing a huge growth in what’s called “over the top” (OTT) revenue from customers who are cancelling their cable-TV subscriptions and signing up with other services, which range from the big players like Netflix and Amazon to the Thai start-up iFlix.
FilmDoo aims to be different by concentrating its offerings on smaller, independent films. Other Thai offerings include the documentary “Boundary” and Laos chips in with “At the Horizon” and “Vientiane in Love”.
“The key to making online streaming a sustainable platform will be for independent film makers to work together with the platforms and to view the latter as an integrated distribution and marketing platform that will not only deliver their content but will help market their content to the right audiences,” she says. “This is especially important for independent films, whose type of films are lost in a sea of Hollywood content on the major platforms. For example, at FilmDoo, we don’t just put a film on the platform – we will always work with the filmmakers to help market and promote the film to our networks, social media, newsletter, press release and create marketing assets such as promotional videos and banners.”
Tom, who has put his company’s films “Patong Girl”, “Soi Cowboy” and “The Elephant King” on FilmDoo exclusively for Thailand, says it’s a good deal so far.
“For us, the key is to try and drive as much traffic to FilmDoo to encourage audiences to try out the service. The cost of watching a movie is not expensive, and more than half of the money will actually come back to us,” he says. “We dealt with FilmDoo directly, so we're not going through any third party distribution companies who usually will take their cut. But we still need mass volume before it becomes a profit-turning exercise. Films are expensive to make, and they don’t always make their money back!”
For now, FilmDoo works best on a personal computer, or a PC connected to a TV. Support for other devices is in the works.
On the Web: