The traditional film industry is in an existential crisis. Its very existence as we know it is threatened. Major theaters chains have closed all or portions of their theaters due to the recent global pandemic. In the US alone, over 60 percent of the states have closed all theaters and the remaining states only allow partial openings with strict restrictions. On October 5, 2020 the country’s second largest theater chain, Regal, announced it is shutting down all 7,000 screens in their 536 US locations. The major Hollywood film studios are either postponing new releases or sending them straight to video.
In contrast, video streaming services are experiencing record growth. Film fans are streaming record hours of entertainment on their home theaters and mobile devices as they shelter in place, work from home or school from home. The pandemic has accelerated the recent trends of staying at home for more cost effective entertainment and “cutting the cord” from traditional network channels and cable-based entertainment. We have all experienced the sticker shock of the cost of today’s movie tickets, not only for one’s self, but also the cost of tickets for a date or for the whole family. And oh, those refreshments, let’s not even go there. The monthly subscription price to streaming services is suddenly looking pretty cheap.
However, with the pandemic forcing Hollywood production companies to halt production of new films and shows, the major streaming services are struggling to provide new content for audiences to consume. So where does one go for some fresh new entertainment? More specifically, where does one go for those overlooked independent gems that other major streaming services missed while focusing on their own originals? While there are a few options out there, one company stands out and not just because of its quirky name, what makes them different is their commitment to sharing the success of building an independent film community by keeping the monthly subscription for fans low and by sharing these net subscription revenues with the independent filmmakers. And boy do they share, 80 percent goes to the filmmaker and just 20 percent goes back to them to continue to grow the platform and their community.
This company is Stream MOWii, a digital streaming platform targeted specifically towards independent filmmakers and fans of indie films. The virtual company was started in June of 2020 by two independent filmmakers themselves. Ray Rudy a TV and film producer and the company’s C.E.O. and Steve Carson, MOWii’s President, a bank mergers & acquisition expert turned independent film producer and colorist of Carson Filmworks, LLC. Together they created the StreamMOWii app, an OTT solution that offers a space and a voice for independent filmmakers and an entertainment platform for their fans to access on almost any computer or device with an internet connection.
As for content, independent filmmakers have plenty of available content that the general public has not seen. The reason for this is the difficulties that independent filmmakers have historically had in getting distribution deals from the theaters and large streaming services. This is where MOWii steps in as a real ally and partner. So much so that even the name MOWii is really a homage, a sign of respect for the independent filmmaker. The company derives its name from the motion picture industry term “M.O.W.,” which is an acronym for “Make Own Way.” More often than not, when a movie goes into production, many of the actors and crew who are not top-billed are expected to transport themselves, bring their own wardrobe, and come make-up ready to the set. To save cost on the production these crew members and talent are said to be M.O.W. and must make their own way. In many respects, M.O.W. is a way of life for the independent filmmaker.
MOWii is posed to make its own way into the streaming industry by focusing on the small independent filmmaker that historically has not been able to get theatrical distribution or streaming deals with the industry giants. It is building an independent film community which is the collaboration of the filmmaker who provides the content, the fan who supports them via a monthly subscription fee, and MOWii with the digital platform to bring it all together. And guess what, their timing could not have been better.
Watch out Netflix, Stream MOWii and the independent filmmakers are Making their Own Way.