Kiwis launch VOD service

Australians will soon be able to watch New Zealand films online, for a price.

The New Zealand Film Commission has just launched NZFC Films On Demand, an online streaming service which initially offers 13 features including Vigil, The Navigator, Kitchen Sink, The Six Dollar Fifty Man, Night Shift and The Singing Trophy, and six shorts.

The plan is to make the service available to Australia and other countries and to expand the menu to eventually include all films co-funded by the NZFC.

“We will be adding Australia very soon – in fact, our intention was to launch with NZ and Australia but we realised a few days before the launch that Australians using the service would automatically receive a GST receipt,” NZFC marketing manager Jasmin McSweeney tells IF.

“We are creating a non-GST receipt and once this work is completed, Australia will be added, hopefully very soon, though I don't have an exact timeline.”

Films on Demand will charge rental fees that are comparable with other VOD platforms. McSweeney says a download-to-own function will be added and HD versions will be available in about eight weeks.

The platform’s underlying technology was developed by Hamilton, New Zealand-based Indiereign, one of a handful of companies around the world certified in Google’s Digital Rights Management technology, which minimises piracy.

Apps are being developed for iOS, Android, Desktop and Smart TV’s to enable customers to watch films on multiple devices.

New features and shorts will be added each fortnight and much of the programming will be event-based. For example, in September Kiwi films that premiered at the Venice Film Festival such The Orator and Once Were Warriors and short films Cargo, Coffee & Allah, O Tamaiti and Avondale Dogs will come on stream.

Unveiling the service in Cannes, NZFC CEO Dave Gibson said, “The Films On Demand platform signals an important moment for New Zealand film – it not only makes our films more accessible to New Zealand audiences, but also offers new distribution possibilities to our filmmakers. We want all New Zealand films – past, present and future – to reach as many people as possible and the Films On Demand platform is a key part of this ambition.”

McSweeney says, “We currently have the ability to go worldwide, but we want to just be patient initially, and get all the functions operational before we do this.”

There are around 150 features and more than 300 short films in the NZFC library.