COMPANY: Platform TV
FIELD: Short film packaging & distribution to TV
INTERVIEW LOCATION: Quo Vadis - Dean St., Soho
INTERVIEWEE: Sarah Nissen
EDUCATED: University of Swansea - BA American Studies (gap year - California)
What is Platform TV's role?
Really our main role is to promote filmmakers and their short films, whether they are documentaries, dramas, experimental films or animation, through global broadcasting. The project is the result of a long period of research, hard work and investigation into the difficulties facing new filmmakers both in raising finance and in finding a broadcast opportunity for their work. In essence we package films together and sell them on to existing broadcast networks in Europe and around the world, the idea is to increase the broadcast value of shorts as well as the revenue created for the filmmaker because one of the key principles behind Platform is to ensure a fair return for filmmakers.
In what ways do your services differ from the Short Film Bureau's?
Our services differ most in that their main objective has been to promote the theatrical release of shorts, to precede mainstream features in cinemas. What we do is to promote the Short industry through television. They are also a largely non-commercial venture but they do offer advice and support to the filmmaker on how to enable a successful return on their work. Kim and Doug have been really supportive of the project from the beginning and kindly allowed me to use their facilities to carry out the ShowCase research project. I will also say that the New Producers Alliance were also very encouraging and mailed out our questionnaires for us to all 1300 of their members, a sign of unity in the industry that can only move it forward. I learnt a lot about the industry whilst volunteering there after my degree and I've a lot of respect for their work and commitment. To answer the question properly, I suppose we offer a similar service to an industry that need all the exposure it can get but we offer that service through a different medium. Like an ad agency might receive a video list of advert promos, we offer that concentrated service to beef up short distribution to a medium that can afford it, again though, with the financial status of the filmamker in mind.
When was the idea for the concept conceived and by whom?
Platform TV was born out of The ShowCase Project. In late 1998 cofounders Simon Beavis and Ian Collington were talking with Gerard Rosenberg, he was the ex-chief commissioner of Southern Screen, with regard to a new and more practical, media training programme and an Opportunity Channel. Basically Gerard introduced Simon and Ian to one another and they all began looking for local partners. The ShowCase project was quite regionally based at the start. There was a lot of success in finding local partners and Melvyn Bragg eventually agreed to be our patron. Which was nice! But by June 1999 Simon and Ian realised that more research was needed into the various training programmes already on offer and that the research needed to be in line with the current climate for indie filmmakers. I joined the team at this point and from then on we began moving toward and developing the true concept of Platform TV. It was during the research proper that we decided to co-organise a training talkshop with Whitespace studios, we had to try to bring together all the various media trainers to discuss how the gap could be bridged between education and the working world. I suppose the idea, when I think about it now, could easily have failed through constant quarrelling but it was actually a huge success and because of this we arranged a follow up meeting in january. Whilst in the depths of the research stage, the opportunity channel was looking more and more difficult to set up. This was a frustrating time because we realised that we would never have the scope of global outlets we wanted to promote the films properly and we would 't have been able to pay the filmmakers a fair price for showcasing their work. At the same time Platform was really starting to develop during the research and began to fit in with the current climate for indie filmmakers and the NPA questionnaire. In November we partnered with Spirit Level, a London based multimedia design company, and by January we had moved from Brighton to London. Things have really taken off from there.
What can you offer a short filmmaker?
We can offer the ability to have their film or films on a database with all their contact details and to put those films into a package in theme strands like documentary, comedy, drama etc to make it more marketable for the broadcasters but broadcasters may even want a complete pacakge of that filmmaker. At the moment it is non exclusive, the filmmaker retains all rights on the work, that is until the point of sale obviously. When we know we've got a package, when we know there is a broadcaster interested we can return to the filmmaker on a decision, so they really have nothing to lose. We digitise it ourselves so that its there and ready, they don't pay a thing and we'll return their masters to them within a week as well, we don't like holding on to their masters. So what they can rely on is that we may be able to sell their film within a package and that they will get 50% of the price quoted by the broadcaster, that price is actually up for debate but we'd like to keep it around that mark to keep it fair.
What is the company planning for the future?
We'll be launching a website, hopefully by April or May, to promote the company, it'll be a portal solely for the business to provide info regarding the films contained in our packages etc. Obviously we'll continue to promote and encourage great films and new talent, our main focus as before, will be to continue to increase the exposure of short films and benefit the film maker.
PlatformTV are currently viewing material so if you have a short film- whatever genre- please email: email@example.com for more info or send a VHS copy to 106 canelot studios, 222 kensal road, London, W10 5BN