Start-up SVOD Zenith to showcase short films

Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni's 'Listen', to screen at the Zenith launch. 

Zenith, a new Australian-based SVOD platform focused on short films, is set to officially launch this week.

The nascent start-up is the brainchild of Melbourne’s Becky Strong, who told IF she wanted to create a space online to showcase indie and arthouse short films and promote emerging filmmakers. 

“We understand how hard it is to break into the industry and want to provide a new avenue for filmmakers to get their name out there,” said Strong, who graduated film school three years ago.   

“With the rise of affordable new technologies anyone can now make a film (which is a great thing), however festivals and markets are becoming over saturated with entries. The chance of getting your film into a big festival like Sundance is something like 0.6 per cent. So chances are your film is not going to be seen by a distributor, producer or sales agent through the current traditional way. Zenith saw the need for a new online marketplace outside of the festival circuit where films are available 24/7.”

To connect filmmakers with industry, the idea is that each subscriber to Zenith creates a profile under one of three labels: filmlover, filmmaker or industry, with options to list contact details. Just like on Facebook, users have the option to ‘like’ a film, and so filmmakers can see who responding to their work. 

Zenith is a curated platform, and most of the films acquired so far have been through reaching out directly to filmmakers and distributors, said Strong. However, filmmakers can also submit their film for free consideration through Zenith’s website, and are not required to make their film exclusive to Zenith. 

The current line-up is predominantly international. However there are some local shorts, including Corrie Chen’s Bloomers and Wonder Boy, Hannah Moore’s Ali 707, Novemba’s Alice, Adelaide and Michael Sloane’s Paper Rounds. 

Strong said Zenith currently has a 50/50 revenue share model with filmmakers, who will receive a payment each month for the year that their film is featured on the platform. However, in the future, when revenue allows, Strong said the plan is to switch to a flat rate payment to “make it easier for everyone involved.” 

While its still early days for Zenith, Strong said there has a been resoundingly positive response so far. 

“People usually respond with ‘Yeah there isn’t anywhere to watch short films online’ and the majority of distributors and filmmakers think Zenith is a great idea,” said Strong. 

“However I won’t lie, we do get knocked back from larger distribution companies and filmmakers, but this is usually because we are unable to provide a large enough payment guarantee for them or their film is currently unavailable to go online, not because they don’t think Zenith is a good idea.”

Subscriptions to Zenith are currently priced at $5USD a month.

Zenith launches officially tonight (Wednesday May 24) in Melbourne with a screening of some of the platform’s shorts at Carlton’s Bella Union.

Among the six films to screen will be Alice, Adelaide; the Palme d'Or winning Megatron from Marian Crisan, and Cannes Directors Fortnight short Listen from Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni. Tickets here