The recession has meant that it's become more difficult than ever to find financing for independent films. But the progressively minded Rotterdam International Film Festival has come up with Cinema Reloaded (cinemareloaded.com/en), an innovative idea to encourage audiences to invest in films that they'd like to see.
The site presents three projects by independent filmmakers. Film fans choose a project and then spend Euro5 (HK$53) to buy a 'coin' to invest in it. It's a feel-good idea - Cinema Reloaded hopes people will enjoy being a part of projects that they like. There are a few additional benefits. Investors get updates from the filmmaker they choose, they can view the preview of the finished film on VOD (video on demand), and may even get an invite to the premiere. Invest in five coins and the buyer automatically gets a name-check in the film credits.
'Cinema Reloaded is very much in the tradition of Rotterdam as it's about exploring new forms of film culture,' IFFR director Rutger Wolfson is quoted as saying in the festival's daily newsletter. 'We've been theorising about the digital future, but this is something practical.
'If the idea works, what you will see is a way for audiences to be much more involved in the process. For filmmakers, it's a way to get feedback from their audience. Hopefully, the project will create a ready-made audience before the film is finished.'
The three very different projects on the website are all by relatively established filmmakers with a Rotterdam pedigree. Argentinian director Alexis Dos Santos' Another World is about two people from different parts of the world meeting in a virtual landscape. Liebling, by eccentric artist/filmmaker Pipilotti Rist, features 'green humans, burning beds and blue houses'. Malaysian director Ho Yuhang presents a war story in which six Indonesians declare war on Malaysia.
Born out of a panel that gathered at the festival two years ago to discuss film distribution, the idea of using fans to fund a project is slightly more common in the music industry, where bands ask fans to stump up cash so they can record a new CD. It would seem that the idea is more suited to bands - which already have followings - rather than films, which don't find fans until they are made. The organisers admit that Cinema Reloaded underperformed at the film festival, where investment was low. But they are confident that the experiment will pick up steam as more prospective investors become aware of it.