A collective of cine aspirants in Kerala is helping indie filmmakers increase their visibility worldwide by adopting the video on demand (VOD) route. Minimal Cinema, which was launched in 2015 at Kozhikode to support independent and experimental cinema in its production and screening, has taken up VOD distribution of nearly 20 works, including feature films and documentaries, since it started offering the service last year. Of this, nearly 10 feature films had a VOD premiere. The curated catalogue available on the collective’s website (www.minimalcinema.in) includes feature films and documentaries in Malayalam and Tamil.
“The decision to explore the growing potential of the VOD system was taken after the pandemic worsened the already shrinking space for independent filmmakers to showcase their works. Film festivals were cancelled and there was no opportunity for indie films in the commercially driven OTT platforms,” says Prathap Joseph, cinematographer and co-founder of Minimal Cinema, which is also a member of the Federation of Film Societies of India. The people behind the collective took the annual subscription of a video hosting platform based in the United States to upload the content. Feature films and documentaries are available on rent or buy option.
“The pricing, which is fixed as per the suggestions given by the filmmakers, is between one to two dollars for a 48-hour streaming period on rent. We charge only 10% of the returns to meet the technical requirements like content digitisation and delivery while handing over the rest of the earnings to the producers,” says Mr. Prathap, who cranked the camera for award-winning movies like Sexy Durga and CR No: 89.
Filmmaker Sreekrishnan K.P., whose feature films Marupathai (Tamil) and Oru Karaykkum Mattanekangalkumidayil (Malayalam) were distributed by the Minimal Cinema on the VOD platform, says that independent filmmakers have to explore multiple distribution channels to expand their footprint and VOD remains a major option. “My films distributed by the Minimal Cinema were watched by staunch supporters of independent cinema in Europe and the United States, besides audiences in various parts of India,” he says.