The first streaming service dedicated exclusively to Australian films will launch in the first half of 2016.
Ozflix will aim to offer 250-400 titles initially, with producers receiving 50 per cent of each pay-per-view transaction.
The long-term goal is to make available every Australian film from the 1900s to latest releases. That timetable will depend on how long it takes to convert hundreds of films to digital.
The company directors are veteran distributor/producer and AFI-AACTA chair Alan Finney and producer/director Ron V. Brown.
Brown tells IF he first had the idea for an all-Australian streaming service five years ago. He pitched the concept to Foxtel and got a tepid response.
Earlier this year he floated the proposal with Finney, who said, “We have to do this and do this now.”
They put their plan to distributors at the Australian International Movie Convention, which was warmly received.
The site will also offer free content including a weekly review show, behind the scenes and the making of footage.
Software firm Spondo is a partner, providing storage, user interface and streaming.
“Our goal is to make Australian films available as easily and inexpensively as possible,” says Brown, who has produced three films, Let Me Not (which starred Rodger Corser, Charlotte Rose and Charles 'Bud' Tingwell) and the yet-to-be released Suite for Fleur (a rom-com featuring Patrick Flynn, Luke Jacobz and Jessikah Brown) and and No Two Snowflakes (a romance with Taylor Glockner, Benita Grimaldi, Daniel Schepisi, Danielle Butlin, Alyce Platt and Suzy Markovski).
Finney says, “The timing could not be better. The technology is right for it. We’re going to take advantage of that developing technology and make these films accessible.”
Ozflix will operate on a TVOD model (pay-per-view), providing digital film rentals to audiences at competitive prices. There will also be the option to buy curated bundles of films based on a theme, or celebrating the work of a particular director.
George Miller, Fred Schepisi, Stephan Elliot, Rolf de Heer, Deborah Mailman and Sigrid Thornton are among those who have agreed to curate and introduce lists of their favourite films. Mini-festivals will celebrate the contributions of individual artists to the industry.
The initiative already has the support of more than 40 directors, producers, critics and actors.
Aware that the costs of digitising films in older formats can be prohibitive for some filmmakers, the Ozflix directors have also launched the Australian Film Future Foundation (AFFF).
The not-for-profit organisation will provide filmmakers with grants to digitise their films. Brown says the costs typically range from $2,500 to $5,000 and up to $50,000 for a full restoration. Kriv Stenders and Clayton Jacobson have agreed to join Finney, Brown and actor Kaarin Fairfax on the AFFF board. The plan is to raise money from corporate sponsors, philanthropists and possibly government funding.
They also intend to work closely with the National Film and Sound Archive.
Ozflix will be launch in the first half of 2016, date to be revealed.
Check out the website: http://www.ozflix.tv/