Thursday, January 26, 2012

Volta.ie - new Irish video on demand service

Volta.ie is a new Irish online service allowing customers to view Irish and international films, with an emphasis on independent films.

One of the great challenges for independent films is distribution: there are many hopeful filmmakers but not so many distribution deals - or cinemas willing to show their works. On the internet though that sort of capacity problem ceases to apply, potentially allowing new or independent filmmakers the chance to compete on (relatively) even terms. It's a very crowded field - even Sundance are getting in on it - but I think Volta has a real chance to make an impact and help Irish film. Volta will in some cases release films on the same day they appear in cinemas, and they have a deal with RTE for distribution of the channel's dramas. Wisely, Volta have decided to let customers rent or buy individual films without needing to become subscribers; subscription might suit Netflix but it could be unattractive for customers who want to see a specific film but don't plan to watch independent films regularly.

The company behind Volta, Element Pictures, are also responsible for the recent reopening of the Light House Cinema in Smithfield. This is an interesting example of (sort of) verticle integration: make films such as The Guard, distribute them in cinemas, and also distribute them online. It's not an entirely original concept, but so what? For the sake of Irish filmmaking and Irish audiences, I hope they're successful.

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