Gaurav Raturi, founder of newly-launched OTT platform Cinemapreneur, has been in the independent film space for a long time. He co-founded filmbooth in 2008 and executed one of the first short film festivals in Delhi. This festival brought more than 50 films along with short films by the likes of Mira Nair, Farhan Akthar Vishal Bharadwaj, etc. Cinemapreneur is the culmination of the realization that there is a market that goes beyond mainstream or formula-based films. In an interview with ottwatcher.com, he dwells on the initial journey, the vision, and the road ahead.
Excerpts from the interview:
What inspired you to launch Cinemapreneur? Please tell us about its journey – origin, promoters, etc. Do you have an app as well or stream now only through the website?
Over the last few years, we have been screening films at our previous venture Filmbooth. In fact, we have run eight independent film festivals and more than 100 screenings during the last eight years. Through this we understood the gaps in the independent film ecosystem. All this experience led us to believe that audiences want new and exclusive films of various type, style, taste rather than just mainstream or formula-based systems. We realised since audiences get this at film festivals, we could create a platform which would work with festivals and bring films from festivals to a whole set of new audiences which are spread across the world.
With that in mind we started the research over the last one year and finally launched Cinemapreneur on June 1. Right now, we have a web streaming service and the app would be launched in six months.
What were the challenges you faced in your journey?
I think to understand and build an OTT is challenging; initially we shared the idea with lot of filmmakers. They liked it but were hesitant to get onboarded. Now as we have launched, we have seen that the interest has just built in. Lot of filmmakers want to now associate with us and bring their films to the cinephiles through our platform. Also building a tech platform and OTT is costly; we are bootstrapped and we plan to raise money and invest on curation, tech, marketing and brand building.
Our vision is to be a home for independent films from India. We can easily say with more than 1 million active user and almost 1000 titles we wish to be the largest catalogue of Indian films. We also seek to revolutionise the content creation by producing our own set of films and titles post 2021. We shall also create a fund for filmmakers who seek to create arthouse films.Gaurav Raturi
What is your vision for Cinemapreneur? Where do you see the platform two years from now?
Our vision is to be a home for independent films from India. We can easily say with more than 1 million active user and almost 1000 titles we wish to be the largest catalogue of Indian films. We also seek to revolutionise the content creation by producing our own set of films and titles post 2021. We shall also create a fund for filmmakers who seek to create arthouse films.
How has been the response from the indie filmmakers and the industry in general?
The response has been great. We have connected with over 250 filmmakers in the last three months and we keep on getting films for releasing on our platform. Our small curation team has to go through each and every film and see it as a fit for the platform.
What is the revenue model you have adopted?
Our model is very simple. We feel filmmakers are a co-promoter in this platform and they monetise per sale. We give a substantial percentage of revenues from every view of the film to them. From the user point of view, we only allow users to watch films by paying on a film. It’s a ticket you buy to watch an exclusive content piece.
In these times of pandemic, new OTT platforms with similar intent are sprouting. Do you foresee competition from such players in the near future? What will be your niche and USP to stand out?
Yes, in fact we feel that would be good for indie filmmakers. We feel it’s going be a norm as the focus is more on online and users due to the raging pandemic. We are right now building ourselves as a home for independent films.
What are the promotional/marketing activities you have undertaken and plan to do in the days to come?
Apart from understanding the overall ecosystem and partnering with film festivals, we have also started our collaborations with reviewers, influencers and critics. We shall use unconventional ways to market and promote the films and our platform. We shall heavily use social media and content marketing to build the traffic.
What are the future plans lined up for Cinemapreneur?
We intent to launch our apps in six months. We want to bring 300 titles by end of 2020. The whole focus is to bring cinephiles on our platform and provide them access to exclusive Indian independent films.