[Executive Edge] Viddsee's aim of empowering filmmakers

GOING PLACES. Derek Tan (right) with Viddsee co-founder Ho Jia Jian (left) and Arvin Chen (middle) director of Taiwanese films Mei and Au Revoir Taipei. All photos from Viddsee / Derek Tan

GOING PLACES. Derek Tan (right) with Viddsee co-founder Ho Jia Jian (left) and Arvin Chen (middle) director of Taiwanese films Mei and Au Revoir Taipei.

All photos from Viddsee / Derek Tan

The recent success of historical film Heneral Luna begs an interesting question: Where do Filipino filmmakers with similar ambition go to showcase their early work?

There are few homegrown platforms where Filipino filmmakers can reach audiences interested in seeing serious films. One of those who want to address this gap is Derek Tan, one of the co-founders of Viddsee.

Tan founded the platform because he and co-founder, Jia Jian, wanted to reach a wider audience for their short films but could not find the right avenue to do so.

“We uploaded our short films on YouTube and Vimeo (thinking we will reach millions easily), but realized that our content is a drop in the sea of content online,” Tan said. “Discovery was painful.”

With Viddsee, Tan wanted to give Asian filmmakers a venue to share their short form videos online. Tan said they began with films from Southeast Asia, but have since expanded to East Asia (Japan, South Korea) to as far as West Asia (Israel, Iran).

EMPOWERING. Filmmakers who have posted their work on Viddsee have gone on to get new short films based on their success.

EMPOWERING. Filmmakers who have posted their work on Viddsee have gone on to get new short films based on their success.

Empowering filmmakers

The basic goal of Viddsee is to empower filmmakers.

According to Tan, filmmakers who have posted their work on Viddsee have gone on to get new short films based on their success commissioned by brands, been selected for festivals, generated revenue through distribution, and directed feature films.

Many of their films on Viddsee get views that represent the rough equivalent of being screened in thousands of theaters, Tan shared.

Filipino filmmakers, in particular, gain an audience outside the country, since Viddsee markets films across Southeast Asia. “Filipino films are definitely doing really well inside the Philippines right now, and as a platform we are also learning the different stories that our other markets are interested in,” Tan said.

As an example, he pointed to the Filipino film Lola, which is doing well across markets because it is a genre movie. Tan said what he likes about Filipino films in general is that they are local stories that intertwine with the reality of life, such as As He Sleeps by Sheron Dayoc.

OFFLINE. Since the Philippines, like several other countries in Asia, has slow Internet speeds, particularly for mobile, they created a corresponding offline experience for the Viddsee iOS app.

OFFLINE. Since the Philippines, like several other countries in Asia, has slow Internet speeds, particularly for mobile, they created a corresponding offline experience for the Viddsee iOS app.

Developing careers, communities

But even with Filipino filmmakers, the goal of Viddsee remains the same: they want to help build their careers and audiences, particularly as it comes to getting new projects from brands in need of content.

“As a platform where audiences are looking to watch awesome stories curated by us, we want to match brands who want to tell awesome stories in the social web with our content and marketing,” Tan said.

He pointed out that Nikon gives out one of its newest DSLR cameras – in fact, the Nikon D7200  every month to their most watched video. As with any sponsorship, this allows Nikon to be closely associated with the filmmakers and the highly creative work they’re creating in the short form.

In addition to promoting filmmaking across Asia, Viddsee also builds the community from country to country, as in the case of the Philippines. They generally work with film festivals, such as Cinemalaya, who they collaborated with to showcase online a curated selection of short films from the past 10 years. 

This year, they are working with Cinema Rehiyon to showcase past films from the festival. “We will be bringing a regional curation of stories across different provinces of the Philippines to Filipinos everywhere, and also the world!” he exclaimed.

To make Viddsee as widely available to as many Filipinos as possible, Tan has developed the platform in consideration of emerging markets. Since the Philippines, like several other countries in Asia, has slow Internet speeds, particularly for mobile, they created a corresponding offline experience for the Viddsee iOS app. This mode allows users to queue up films that they want to watch and then watch them offline on the go.

Tan’s immediate plans for Viddsee in the Philippines are to help filmmakers reach more audiences across the world. As they reach for larger milestones, the team is always steered by their core purpose.

“From the beginning, we wanted to make sure we are building value for our filmmakers and audience instead of just focusing on revenue returns,” Tan said. Rappler.com