Everline Future 50 recognises We Are Colony as “a film streaming platform the likes of which has never been seen before by the video industry”.

Delighted to announce We Are Colony was named in the Everline Future 50 Awards last night: the “definitive analysis of game-changing new UK businesses”, recognising the 50 most disruptive British businesses in 2016. The Awards recognised We Are Colony as “…a film streaming platform the likes of which has never been seen before by the video industry”.

Real Business, the UK’s most-read SME website, and Everline launched the Future 50 Competition five years ago to identify and champion British businesses that are transforming industries. Previous Future 50 trailblazers include Secret Escapes (which raised $60m Google Ventures backing for global expansion in 2015), Funding Circle (one of the best capitalised marketplace lending platforms in the world, having raised $300 millionof equity capital since 2010) and TransferWise (the London-based peer-to-peer money transfer service which was valued close to $1 billion last year).

Future50_TW

We are thrilled to be included in the Everline Future 50 2016, especially among such a strong cohort of British startups. It’s fantastic early recognition of our ambition to build a global business which truly impacts how fans engage with quality film and film extras.

Future 50 commented: “We Are Colony releases ‘special edition bundles’ of content to fans…showing a more personal viewing experience is possible. The mission of We Are Colony is to capitalise on gear change in the industry, building a global community of loyal and passionate fans and redefining the video on demand experience. Already recognised for its disruptive and innovative service, We Are Colony has received coverage throughout the global media. Oscar-nominated and Bafta-winning filmmaker turned distributer Sarah Tierney has put together a world class team with the aim of making We Are Colony a household name in video on demand. The young venture is gearing up to become a globally recognised brand in the coming years.”

Read Future 50’s feature on We Are Colony here

Showcasing 50 of the hottest new or early stage businesses, the Future 50 Awards celebrate “the most ambitious, disruptive and thrilling start-ups in the UK”.

Real Business, the UK’s most-read SME website, and Everline launched the Future 50 Competition five years ago to identify and champion British businesses that are transforming industries. With ambitions to disrupt the global film streaming and marketing sectors, We Are Colony is very proud to announce that we have been shortlisted for inclusion within Future 50 2016.

Future 50 trailblazers can come from any sector: companies including Secret Escapes, Funding Circle and TransferWise are just a few of the firms to have been named on previous Future 50 line-ups on their rise to the top.

We’re very excited to have been recognised by Future 50, especially given its focus on home-grown businesses. The Future 50 ranking will be unveiled on 3rd March 2016 at Bankside Vaults in London.

This post first appeared on We Are Colony’s blog – read more here

We Are Colony has analysed the social buzz surrounding the 88th Academy Awards to predict who will walk away with the industry’s most coveted gongs. And the results may surprise you…

Collating data from 90 days’ worth of social media monitoring across the globe, the results are formed from combining data on the number of mentions for each actor or film with the positive sentiment of those mentions. We then contrasted the public’s predictions against the experts, teaming up with Empire Magazine contributing editor (and filmmaker) Nev Pierce.

Some of the stand out predictions are:

  • 50% think The Revenant has shot at winning Best Picture (Nev is rooting for The Big Short)
  • However, director Alejandro G Iñárritu is considered least likely to take home Director, despite winning it at this year’s Golden Globes and Baftas
  • 80% are rooting for Leonardo DiCaprio to walk away with Best Actor, with only 1% thinking Bryan Cranston will take the title
  • 50% think Jennifer Lawrence will win Best Actress, despite the critics favourite being Brie Larson
  • And in the last year, positive sentiment around the Oscars has dropped by 5%

See the full predictions in our infographic:

oscar-predictions.png

 

We Are Colony has come out of beta with a streamlined new design and a host of new curatorial features.

The new design  better communicates the uniqueness of the product (the special edition bundle), the growing diversity and depth of the catalogue, and has strengthened and consolidated our brand and design language both on and off platform. The redesign signals the end of the platforms beta, during which time we released 60 titles and attracted registered account holders from 115 countries.

Read more from front-end lead Patrick Kunka here: http://blog.wearecolony.com/we-are-colony-launches-new-platform-design.

WAC_ProductShot_002

Looking at the North American top 100 grossing movies of 2015, the number of onscreen female protagonists increased but leading women of colour remained the same.

Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, compiled the findings of a content analysis that looked at 2,500 characters appearing in the top 100 domestic-grossing films of 2015, foreign films excluded. Females comprised 22% of the protagonists featured in the films studied — an increase of 10% compared to 2014. The 2015 figure is 6% higher than in 2002, which stands as a recent historical high for female protagonists in film.

Overall, females accounted for 33% of all speaking characters, a slight increase from the previous year, but the percentage of women of color characters remained largely unchanged. Of the female protagonists seen on film in 2015, 27% were black, Latina, Asian or women of other races/ethnicities, while 13% of all female characters, leading or otherwise, were black in 2015, up 2% points.

female_talent_banner

Some of We Are Colony’s female filmmakers and stars – http://www.wearecolony.com

The statistics are even worse behind-the-camera: just 9% of Hollywood directors are women; 4% of the top 100 box office films are directed by women; and women accounted for 15% of writers, 17% of executive producers, 20% of editors, 4% of cinematographers, and 25% of producers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. Just 55.4% of all films pass the Bechdel Test, the informal guidelines that judge whether individual films represent female characters fairly.

Both areas of under-representation are particularly stark when compared with film audiences: women are majority film-goers (52% of box office ticket sales) and VOD over-indexes on women.

Film4, Channel 4’s feature film division, will receive a record £25m in funding next year after securing 22 Bafta and 15 Oscar nominations in this year’s awards season.

The £10m funding increase, up from £15m in 2015, represents a significant vote of confidence by the network in its big-screen division, which backed acclaimed productions including RoomCarol45 Years and Amy.

Titles backed by Film4 this year have a total of 15 Oscar nominations including a Best Picture and Best Director nomination and three of the five Oscar Best Actress Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling.  The total tally of Film4’s awards nominations and wins across the Academy, BAFTA, critics groups, guilds, etc. in 2015 to date is: 181 wins out of a total 581 nominations (95% of which were in the U.S.) across 11 films, including Room, Suffragette and The Lobster.

Film4 is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative, both new and established, talent. CEO David  Kosse spoke to Screen International about his vision and strategy for Film4’s future:

“In many cases, we’re not making money on [Film4-backed] movies that are making money. Other people are making money. So we’re choosing the projects, we’re developing the projects, we’re investing in the projects but our position in many of these projects isn’t where it should be. It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to show that had we taken a bigger position in a number of those films and reduced the costs that come with a multi-party agreement, we would have made more money when the film was successful, and really not lost much more when the film wasn’t successful. But in order to do that, you needed more money that would allow you to take bigger swings.”

“That could mean holding onto the UK rights… It doesn’t mean we’re going to distribute the film but we’ll just take a bet that the film will be good enough to find a distributor. Given that we’ve made 110 films in the past 10 years and 98% of them got distributed, that’s a pretty good bet. Or it could mean something like the Fox Searchlight deal [on Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri], where we co-finance 50-50 and keep their fees as low as we possibly can, meaning we get to participate if the film’s a hit. It could also be gap financing in a film, or part-mezzanine financing. It could be any number of these options as long as it makes sense. That’s the key strategic change we were able to demonstrate to David [Abraham, Channel 4 chief executive] and the board.”

Doteveryone, a new organization led by trailblazer Martha Lane Fox, aims to identify female tech influencers and put women at the heart of the UK technology sector.

Women currently occupy just 17% of tech jobs. According to Pitchbook, only 13% of venture-backed companies had at least one female co-founder. In the software sector, women-run businesses accounted for just 10% of all venture capital deals (and that’s a drastic improvement). And a 2015 study found that 92% of senior investment teams at top venture capital firms are male.

Doteveryone, a new organization led by Martha Lane Fox, aims to help change this by putting women at the heart of the technology sector, believing that making the UK the most gender-balanced tech sector in the world will deliver a massive global competitive advantage. The 5050tech challenge sought applications from UK start-ups with at least one female founder, seeking early-stage or seed funding and/or mentoring. From hundreds of applications, 34 were shortlisted to take part in the first 5050tech Challenge on 8th February at Campus London.

As Vanessa Whiteside, Head of Marketing at Engage Works, wrote in the Huffington Post: “positive, successful female role models are a fantastic way to inspire young women to enter the world of tech. And all you have to do is look at the likes of Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, Marissa Meyer at Yahoo and Eileen Burbidge Tech City’s UK chair who are already paving the way to a brighter future with equal opportunities for both sexes. Initiatives like Google’s Codegirl are also encouraging young women to get excited about coding, in a much-needed re-brand of the tech industry. And it’s refreshing to see that these initiatives are starting to pay off. Start-up accelerator, MassChallenge, recently announced that 39% of their global start-ups from Boston and London have at least one female founder.”

female_talent_banner

We Are Colony is first and foremost an amazing team of enthusiastic, ambitious and talented individuals. We are also a fairly balanced team, with six of our 13 team members women, including myself as Founder and CEO. Our global user base also skews female, and we make a point of gender balance on-screen and off. Of Vice’s ‘10 female film performances that awards season insanely ignored’ you can enjoy three on our platform: Kristen Wiig in Welcome to Me, Bel Powley in Diary of a Teenage Girl and Desiree Akhavan in Appropriate Behaviour. And we’re proud to champion work from awesome female filmmakers including: Oscar-winner Mia Bays, producer of The Muse and Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of; Crystal Moselle, director and producer of The Wolfpack; and the team behind Little Accidents, including writer and director Sara Colangelo and cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

This post first appeared on We Are Colony’s blog. Read more here. 

My company We Are Colony, the new global film streaming platform connecting content owners to passionate fans through special edition releases, has announced $2m in seed investment, fast on the heels of the company’s controlled platform rollout, which culminated in an expansion to over 100 countries.

The latest seed investment round combined additional financial commitments from We Are Colony’s original angel investors, with new investments from: Archer Gray, the New York media production, finance, and venture investment company; Firestartr, the entrepreneur-led fund backing globally ambitious entrepreneurs with game-changing internet and software businesses; and Essex Innovation.

This additional capital empowers us to translate the progress we’ve made in the past year into the foundational elements of a global video destination for engaged audiences who prize early and exclusive access to titles and talent that they love.

“In We Are Colony we saw a platform that could be a vibrant home for both original films and the kind of exclusive behind-the-scenes content that fans and film lovers value,” said Amy Nauiokas, the CEO and founder of Archer Gray. “We are thrilled to be supporting Sarah and her team as they continue to build a completely new kind of video-on-demand platform.”

We Are Colony will now focus on growing our library of feature films and exclusive special features, in the areas of talent-driven and strong genre titles, with a number of strategic partnerships and output deals to be announced in the coming months. The company will also expand the team to further deliver on the narrow-targeting marketing and audience engagement expertise evidenced by the early successes of the beta.

“Digital video-on-demand has completely transformed consumer video consumption habits. We Are Colony has recognised that in this new digital world a key differentiator and success factor is to create strong sticky community bases around specific demographics of film viewers. As such, We Are Colony has effectively reinvented the special-edition film DVD for the digital age and in the process also created a new marketing and monetisation channel for distributors and studios to target this highly engaged demographic,” said Anil Hansjee, Firestartr.co and ex Digital Chief Investment Officer for major European broadcaster MTG.

Visit www.wearecolony.com to learn more.

UPDATES:

“A startup that’s trying to be the Netflix of behind-the-scenes film footage just raised $2 million” – coverage in Business Insider

“London-Based Movie Streaming Startup We Are Colony Raises $2 Million in Funding” – coverage in The Hollywood Reporter

logoDelighted to announce that We Are Colony has been awarded the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, in partnership with Film London and Edge Hill University.

The £7m fund – a partnership between Nesta, the Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council – supports collaboration between arts, digital technology and research organisation in order to build new business models and enhance audience reach. The award will fund a pilot stage of the We Are Colony platform, launching this month, focussed on delivering insights into online film audiences’ behaviour and purchasing around VOD and additional content. The pilot is a partnership between Film London – the strategic agency for film and media in London – and Edge Hill University. Other organisations supported by the Digital R&D Fund include The Royal Opera House, Sheffield Doc/Fest, The Imperial War Museum and the Cheltenham Festivals.  Visit the fund’s online journal Native for updates and insights from the projects.

France Cannes Film FestivalToday, at the American Pavilion, a panel including representatives of Creative Future, Elevated Film Sales, Saban Films and Alamo Drafthouse discussed the state of digital piracy on the independent film sector, and how new models of hybrid digital distribution can respond.

First up was Ruth Vitale, Executive Director of Creative Future: an organisation which seeks to respond to the economic threat of piracy, with a particularly focus on educating younger film viewers who have grown up expecting content on the web to be free.  According to Creative Future, the illegal downloading and streaming of most films ranges from 25-100% of their legitimate sales worldwide. For library titles, online piracy can reach as much as two to three times legal sales. Nearly 30% of internet users in North America – and 40% in Europe – use pirate sites.

The Pirate Bay alone receives nearly 60 million unique visitors a month – 14 million more than Netflix, and more than the websites of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox combined. And it is a lucrative business: MegaUpload.com was reported to have made $150m in credit card sales, and $25m in ad dollars, over just six years. Avatar is the most pirated film, with 16.5 million illegal downloads (note: that film also grossed a record-breaking $2.7 billion at the worldwide box office). Vitale comments that the effect of piracy is particularly acute for indie films in terms of lost revenue. She gave the example of The Hurt Locker which she reported sold six million legal tickets, against 10 million illegal downloads.

Tim League, CEO and co-founder of Alamo Drafthouse, talked about the need to better engage younger people with foreign language, arthouse and independent films, and to use digital spaces for this engagement to deliver content on their terms. He gave the example of BitTorrent’s recent offer to download a content bundle of the film plus DVD extras, which led to 3.5 million international downloads of The Act of Killingamong many other successes. League commented that this functionality is soon to be behind a paywall and this is a model he’s keen to test. [Interestingly, this is a similar model to our’s at We Are Colony].

Bill Bromiley, President of recently launched Saban Films, talked passionately about independent distributors’ responsibility to find audiences for their films. He is championing the ultra-VOD model as a revenue source with huge potential to grow, particularly as technology in the home continues to diversify. He commented: “we’ve got to be distribution agnostic…we’ve just got to find out where we can make money from films, to make the next crop of films”.

AP Distribution

Cassian Elwes, CEO of Elevated Film Sales, championed day-and-date releasing, but made clear the challenges of getting actors to lend their support to innovative models, with VOD formerly seen as a dumping ground for films which could not get distribution elsewhere. In his view, new VOD models are a way to monetise films by making them directly available to fans, and getting in front of piracy rather than waiting six months to go digital. He hopes that Google will get into premium film distribution, to truly understand the value of content and to lead a crack-down on piracy sites.

Elizabeth Valentina, Vice President of Content Protection Litigation at Fox Entertainment Group, was challenged as to whether the bigger studios, and larger cinema chains, were truly embracing new VOD models such as day-and-date. She argued that the studios are innovating – from ultra-violet, to varied transaction VOD models, to subscription platforms. But Vitale commented that the major cinema chains will not give distribution to films doing ultra-VOD or day-and-date, leaving producers restricted to some 300 screens across the US (unless they “four wall”, where the producer pays the cinema a minimum per week to screen their film, often costing $2-10k per week). She suggested the potential solutions were either higher at-home VOD price-tags, or revenue sharing between VOD and theatrical.

Elwes voiced frustration that studios are not revealing VOD numbers; but with smaller platforms now doing so, he suggested future deal terms might be structured around success, with bonuses on early digital engagement and download/streaming numbers. Elwes also suggested that the studios will start investing in competing platforms to Netflix, to monetise new films and archive pictures, and that as those platforms grow they will need new content, giving an opportunity to indie films.

We Are Colony launches in private beta this month, sign up now for early access. Independent filmmakers can submit their in-production or in-distribution films for consideration here. More are @wearecolony and @colonymakers.