Let’s say you’re in the mood for animation. But, great as they are, not a Pixar film. Maybe you’re in the mood for something different, like a dark surrealist retelling of Alice in Wonderland by the legendary Czech animator, Jan Svankmajer (Alice). Perhaps you feel like watching a biography about the most important Russian filmmaker since Eisenstein, Andre Tarkovsky. But you want the director of this documentary to be worthy of the subject, a poet of the cinema who maybe even knew Tarkovsky (Chris Marker’s One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich). Or you desire a documentary that explores a timely and controversial subject, maybe a call-to-action film, but you can’t spend more than 30 minutes in front of a monitor because, you know, life (G is for Gun).
Until recently, these films and others like them were virtually inaccessible. Enter OVID.tv, a new streaming service founded by eight distributors of independent, arthouse, documentary, and social issue films. One of those distributors is First Run Features, and Marc Mauceri, the Vice President of FRF, weighed in on the need for just such a service.
How did OVID.tv come to be?
OVID.tv came about because there is a gaping hole in what the corporate SVOD platforms are offering in their documentary category. Of course, they cherry-pick the Oscar nominees and highly successful theatrical docs…but there is a wide range of fascinating, must-see non-fiction content beyond this that has an increasingly hard time finding an SVOD home.
Describe the kind of person who would subscribe to OVID. Or the kind of person you’d like to subscribe.
OVID.tv is built for people who are curious about our world; not only the challenges we face but the life-affirming stories that give us hope in our sometimes terribly depressing era. As well, those who want to change the world, progressive or otherwise, will have the means to learn about a huge variety of world-wide issues that are shaping the future. And our films are not created by corporate titans with sometimes hidden agendas. Our films are by independent documentarians and video journalists who are dedicated to showing what’s really happening.
What are you offering that I can’t get through the giants?
Pretty much everything available on OVID.tv is not available on the corporate platforms, and every month we’re adding dozens of titles.
Right now there are 8 distributors. Will there be more?
Absolutely, in fact, we’ve just added Ocilloscope and Metrograph. More coming!
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered launching OVID? What will be future challenges?
The toughest challenge is getting the word out about OVID.tv without spending a fortune on advertising. Thankfully our social marketing is going really well and it’s great to see our existing customers recommending OVID.tv to their friends and family.
Were there lessons to be learned from the short-lived streaming service, Filmstruck?
That service was partially run by a media conglomerate, and that means the decisions about how they ran their platform were made through their corporate prism, which is pretty much the opposite of a truly independent group of companies (i.e. the ones behind OVID.tv).
The big three have been heading into the content production business. Is that a path you’d like to take OVID down?
Maybe somewhere down the line, the founders and content partners will go down that path, but the truth is there is already a wealth of great content available if you know where to look.
Marc Mauceri is the current Vice President of First Run Features, one of the largest independent distributors in North America, releasing between 15-20 films a year in theaters nationwide and an additional 30-40 films annually to schools, libraries, and other educational institutions; on home video on DVD and Blu-Ray; to television broadcasters; and online through a diverse group of innovative digital partners.