Victoria Thomas talks about her new App, Cues, which was unveiled at Cannes.
Victoria Thomas and Jonathan Forbes, two recent graduates of the National Film and Television School’s Creative Business for Entrepreneurs and Executives (CBEE) course, are unveiling a new film discovery App at the Cannes Film Festival. The ‘Cues’ App is available in beta on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Here Victoria Thomas writes about how the App was developed – and why.
I was an independent producer who welcomed the digital age. Digital production equipment reduced the cost of production and smashed the barriers to entry; improvements in broadband technology meant the internet connection was quicker and social networks meant you could connect with people on a global level across shared interests. Video sharing sites and VOD platforms meant that you could create and publish your content and sell directly to all these new found friends.
Except, I was not alone. People around the world were all creating social network profiles, producing films for a fraction of the usual cost, uploading them to video sharing platforms and waiting for the grand pay-out. It never came. There were far too many of us doing the same thing in film, games, books, music, arts, crafts… The creative world had gone from a heavily curated zone to a zero-curation content tsunami.
Only those with the ability to rise above the noise could be heard and that required even more marketing spend. I toyed with various ideas of how I could get above the noise and boost the discovery of films on my slate. One pitch made the cut and with the support of Creative Scotland, I developed and built a new product, designed to help audiences discover films. But how would the public discover my product?
A little over a year ago, I made the decision to enrol on the CBEE program at the NFTS. It seemed like a no brainer. One of the best film schools in the world helping creative entrepreneurs develop sustainable business practices.
Led by film producer Chris Auty, the CBEE course turned out to be the missing link that helped me to develop a business case for my product that was developed further and evolved tremendously during the course.
On the course were a lively group of 10 like-minded people who like me were creative and entrepreneurial, full of ideas and the determination to execute them. I also met someone on the course, Jono Forbes whose skills complemented mine and it seemed only natural to follow the mantra that two heads are better than one and pool together our complementary skills to execute a shared vision.
The industry speakers provided both inspiration and a reality check, the camaraderie from the class provided the moral support and the course leaders became valuable advisers. We also had a good grounding in the practicalities of running a business, self-development, so in-depth, it included a very practical workshop on how to walk into a room. It seemed amusing at the time but now that the course is over, we can safely say, our walk and confidence have evolved.
With this brand new walk (and support from the New Zealand film commission), Jono and I strolled into the Next Pavillion at the Cannes Film Festival this week to showcase our film discovery app called ‘Cues’. Our time in Cannes has been spent chatting to as many Distributors, VOD platforms and Cinemas as possible before the public launch of ‘Cues’ on the app stores.
‘Cues’, designed to connect audiences with films that they might want to see and signpost them to where it is available. ‘Cues’ provides consumers with intelligent film recommendations, via trailers which remain the most influential factor in persuading audiences to see a film, and a simple way to purchase cinema tickets, trigger on demand screenings or purchase VOD / physical copies through familiar providers like iTunes and Amazon. It also aims to improve dwindling cinema occupancy internationally and aid distributors in forming data driven strategy.
Why are we doing this? Because as film-makers, we love cinema and want to see it thrive. Cinemas remain under occupied every night of the week. Sales of physicals are dwindling faster than VOD is rising. And the greenshoot VOD, happens to be the one with the lowest transaction revenue.
We can’t ignore the fact that the internet and social networks mean we are competing for attention with everyone who fancies themselves as a content creator. Instead we need to harness them and signpost audiences to find the films they want to see, where they want to see them.
We’re very excited about our product. Please come and talk to us if you’d like to find out more.
Victoria Thomas is the founder and Commercial Director of Cues. For more information go to www.getcues.com or email Victoria@thomasforbes.net