ON February 21 the very first Caribbean film and television streaming service, Filmco2Go, will go live.
The date of the launch was announced during a virtual media conference on Wednesday.
The service is an initiative of Filmco, a non-profit founded in January 2017 dedicated to creating a sustainable ecosystem for film and television producers of TT and the wider Caribbean, and Caribbean-centric online distribution platform Tego. Filmco's core areas of focus are the distribution of film and television series, management of the annual TT Film Festival and industry-specific professional development and training.
Filmco interim executive director Mariel Brown said a thriving distribution landscape is crucial to creating that ecosystem. She said distribution was one of the most underrepresented aspects of the industry and FIlmco embarked early on to build relationships with filmmakers and content broadcasters.
Brown said the world of the internet can be a "scary place" for film and video professionals who are seeing the technology change right before their eyes and have no idea which way to go.
"But we are absolutely clear that the internet and online viewing is the future and it is the now."
She reported over the last year Filmco has been working with various models and various partners, including Tego, to come up with online distribution offerings. She said Filmco2Go was allowing Filmco to help fulfil its mandate of creating this ecosystem.
"Filmco2Go powered by Tego marks a major milestone in our efforts to get Caribbean audiovisual content to audiences around the world!”
She reported the service will launch with about 50 titles from the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora and will be updated monthly.
"There will be a constant rollover throughout the year."
She explained the content will remain on the platform for a year, the period of the licence, and Filmco has a team that works to bring in new content.
Tego was launched in 2018 with a joint venture to deliver the FIFA World Cup to mobile users around Trinidad and Tobago. Since then, it has widened its remit, becoming Tego TV, an OTT (over the top, which is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the internet) platform that delivers Caribbean film, television and live broadcast content to viewers around the world on mobile and TV-connected streaming devices.
Tego CEO Jason Mulrain said, "With our partnership with Filmco, we’re introducing our first-ever premium package, Filmco2Go, a subscription-based package delivering independently-produced Caribbean movies and television shows, most of which you won’t find anywhere else.”
He reported Tego currently has more than 80,000 registered users and this year is scheduled to be a big year for them both, with Filmco2Go and other content from television stations.
Mulrain explained the Tego app is available on the Google Play store, television-connected apps, Roku store and Amazon TV, and when downloaded the user then buys a subscription to Filmco for premium-content Caribbean movies and television series.
He described the app as a "Netflix-style" experience. The Tego team also explained that the technology works with both the best and the worst of internet connections.
As with other subscription-based platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, Filmco2Go is available for a monthly subscription fee, and during the life of the subscription, users around the world will be able to watch as much content as they want, as many times as they want.
When the platform goes live on February 21 subscriptions will be available through Filmco.org/Filmco2go. Brown said the Filmco2Go will initially only be available via credit card but discussions are taking place on adding other payment methods.
"Hopefully these will roll out in the next month or two."
Asked about people submitting content, Brown said Filmco is always happy to see and review new content. She explained content can be sent to distribution assistant Mikayla Almandoz, including a synopsis and logline, to the e-mail distribution@Filmco.org.
"Because we are always looking for new content, and if we find new content that's great, and we think it's a good fit for Tego, we will gladly put it on there."
She also said filmmakers can receive access to their content's analytics upon request. She added that over the first few months the user experience will be continually upgraded.
"We are in discussions with Tego on how to finesse and make the user experience as enjoyable as possible."
Asked about Filmco producing original content, Brown said Filmco is considering ways of raising money to start putting out grant calls to help people kickstart new content creation.
"And I am really hopeful that we will be able to announce those plans in the next month or two. But we know that things are really hard in the Caribbean, in Trinidad, with the recession right now, that there are few opportunities for grants, and we're very cognisant of that. And we want our industry to keep working and keep producing and to keep turning. So we really are hoping to launch something pretty soon."
She added the fundraising mechanism will be announced very soon.
Filmco said users can expect to see long-time favourites such as Westwood Park and The Reef, along with new, award-winning independent documentary and narrative films with a Caribbean focus and produced by filmmakers and producers from around the Caribbean and diaspora.