SundanceNOW (IFC Films and Sundance Selects) has launched "Doc Club," a SVOD (Subscriber Video-on-Demand) program for documentary films. The company has turned to Thom Powers, one of the world's leading authorities on documentary films, to create a slate of curated titles each month for film enthusiasts. Powers is the documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and the director of the DOC NYC festival and the weekly screening series “Stranger Than Fiction.”
Powers and the SundanceNOW team have spent the past year looking through the film libraries of several of the world's great documentary distributors, IFC Films, Zeitgeist, Icarus and Docurama, finding both many well-known titles as well as a number of hidden and hard-to-find gems.
"This past year has been an incredible one for Sundance Selects especially with our documentary films. Audiences across the country and beyond have proven that documentaries are alive and well," said Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects.
"This new 'Doc Club' via SundanceNOW will cater directly to online fans of documentaries. I feel strongly that any way a person can discover a documentary film is a great thing. With Thom's curated selections of beloved titles and hard-to-find gems, and his fascinating commentaries, lovers of documentaries will have a terrific new destination to explore."
On Demand Weekly interviewed Thom Powers, SundanceNow’s “Doc Club” Curator about this new film platform in the on demand world.
When asked, why a documentary specific destination now, Thom Powers replied, “Documentaries as a brand to consumers has come more into focus in the last 5 years. We couldn't take the “Stranger Than Fiction” series experience outside of New York City. Unfortunately I didn’t have the ability to clone myself. Jonathan Sehring recognized audiences want more documentaries via IFC Films and Sundance Selects. He approached me to replicate the experience on-line for Doc Club."
Powers added, "I hope that the establishment of 'Doc Club' means that audiences across the country who are hungrier than ever for documentary films can now share my passion for these great films.”
We discussed how there are now so many choices for viewing content in the digital distribution era and Powers harked on the need for guidance.
“Curation is the most important component of the new media world that we live in.
The wonderful thing about the internet is that it gives you access to so much content. The horrible thing about the internet is that it gives you access to so much content,” Powers said.
“It helps to have some guidance to sift through. The history of media, we have always looked to people to curate ideas for us, whether it the editor of The New Yorker or the IFC Film Center (NYC).”
Who is the target audience for “Doc Club”? “Documentary lovers, Powers answered. “They come from different demographics. They’re curious people. We’re also trying to bring in people of different backgrounds with our monthly themes.”
What can “Doc Club” subscribers expect to find every month?
Whereas film fans can watch SundanceNow films on a title-by-title transactional basis, “Doc Club” is a subscription based Video On Demand (SVOD) service offering access to "Doc Club's" monthly selections for $3.99 a month (or $19.99 a year).
“Doc Club” will curate a different thematic selection of up to 8 films every month and kicked off in April with an Errol Morris Spotlight. Films included THE THIN BLUE LINE, GATES OF HEAVEN and VERNON, FLORIDA as well as the hard to find entire FIRST PERSON series.
June’s theme, Up Close & Personal features THE GLEANERS AND I, THE WINDMILL MOVIE and more.
“Doc Club” isn’t alone in this space. I asked how does “Doc Club” differentiate from other online doc platforms, such as SnagFilms?
“I have a lot of respect for SnagFilms as a pioneer in this pace,” said Powers. “One differentiating factor with SundanceNow is a tighter curation of films and our films aren’t interrupted (commercial free).”
(Editor’s Note: SnagFilms offers both a free (ad supported) movie platform as well as transactional movies on demand.)
While the "Doc Club" films currently remain free of commentary (pre, during or post), SundanceNOW is hoping for interaction among fans via their Facebook and Twitter pages like last week’s twitterthon.
You can access "Doc Club" via SundanceNOW at http://www.sundancenow.com/doc-club. The cost is $3.99 a month for access to 6-10 titles or $19.99 a year.
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