Indians are naturally movie buffs. Besides Bollywood, there are multiple regional movie industries such as Kollywood, Mollywood and Tollywood. Even the advent of smartphones and live-streaming devices have not affected Indians’ cinema viewing behaviour much. Film enthusiasts still rush to nearby cinemas to watch their favourite stars smashing the villain on the big screen, if possible, on the opening day itself.
Short film industry is also growing. There are many film festivals for short film-makers to showcase their talent and creativity, and some receive international attention and recognition. However, budget constraints and lack of marketing skills force many of these artists to stay behind closed doors. While there are platforms like YouTube, their works often go unnoticed and don’t reach the desired audience.
Two Chennai (capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu)-based entrepreneurs want to plug this loophole with their venture. The duo has launched an online platform Shortfundly to help short film-makers to list their work, while at the same time helping the common movie enthusiast to discover amazing short movies.
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“Shortfundly is an online technology and data-driven media company that curates and shares the best short films and stories through global multi-platform network. Its video and editorial platform enables a global audience to easily discover, watch and share unique stories anywhere on their desktop and mobile devices. It helps short film-makers get connected to short film festivals and organisers,” says Selvam M, Founder of Shortfundly.
The startup was launched in October 2014 by Selvam and P Maharajan (Co-founder). Shortfundly helps users browse and watch the latest short films, promote their works, and get their work listed at various film festivals, as well as get crowdfunding for your upcoming works.
One can simply upload his/her film on the platform and add the basic details (the names of the director and actors). Once submitted, Shortfundly starts promoting the works in order to reach wide audience. One can also watch the film on the platform, rate the work, review it and provide feedback. This way, the maker get a chance to improve on his skills.
Users can search for short films by language or category.
While there are the likes of YouTube and Vimeo in the market, Shortfundly is different, claims Selvam. “YouTube and Vimeo are great platforms providing online video streaming services. However, they are not designed for short film and short film makers. If you want to see a short film in some particular category, you are required to do extensive search to find the short film. So, we thought to build a new platform to help users quickly view and share short films without searching much,” adds Selvam, an alumnus of Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, who also holds a patent in ‘video playback with split-screen action bar functionality’.
Shortfundly has already signed up 900-plus short film-makers. The platform gets an average of 15,700 page views per month, according to Selvam.
A LinkedIn for short film makers
“Basically, we are building three things: 1) a LinkedIn for short film-makers, 2) a dedicated short film video discovery platform, and 3) a crowdfunding platform for short film-makers.”
“The crowdfunding initiative is very similar to that of Ketto or Kickstarter. This is the practice of funding a film project by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet campaign. Once the film is made and hits the market, film-makers need to give perks back to the investors accordingly.”
The startup makes money mainly through video ads and partnership with film festivals.
Other short film platforms in the market are Singapore-based Viddsee and Canada’s Film Shortage. In September last year, Viddsee had raised an undisclosed sum in funding led by Japan-based CyberAgent Ventures.
According to Selvam, the Indian short film industry is fragmented and so there is huge potential. As per estimates, it was currently a US$2.1 billion in 2014, and is expected to reach US$3.4 billion by 2020 at 10 per cent growth rate year by year.