Jamie Hardesty

How this Newcastle tech startup hopes to disrupt the world of independent filmmaking

Editor Jamie Hardesty talks to North East filmmaker and business owner Jerome Vyland, cofounder of creative technology company Northern Bear Films, about the launch of Modyst Film Network - a new streaming platform aiming to disrupt the way independent films are distributed and watched.

With a rich history in the film industry, Jerome and business partner Aman Sharma are all too familiar with the struggles independent filmmakers face in getting their films distributed.

“Independent filmmaking can often be a thankless task”, explains Jerome. “Even if [filmmakers] are lucky enough to get distribution, they hardly make any profit as most of it goes to the middle men, like distributors and sales agents.”

So with around 4000 films produced globally each year, Jerome and Aman believe the demand for a solution has never been greater. Cue Modyst.

“We launched back in Aug 2016”, says Jerome. “Our platform does not only allow filmmakers to maximise profits by directly distributing their content but it also enables them to understand global audience data analytics and use that to develop and make their future projects more profitable.”

For film lovers, Modyst is offering a new way to stream and discover independent content from feature films, to shorts and indie web-series for free.

With a business model based on partnerships with filmmakers, festivals and organisations, Jerome says the platform is gaining favour with numerous organisations impressed by Modyst’s ethos and vision.

Like most startups in the tech sector, Modyst’s biggest challenge is raising investment. Sufficient capital is needed to help Jerome and Aman take the concept multi-platform while rolling out an app globally.

Jerome comments: “[Investment] would enable us to have a faster growth in the market. We are currently raising £150k on Crowdcube and looking to reach our minimum target in the next four weeks.”

Jerome and Aman’s startup journey really took off when they pitched the idea to IBM, which in turn resulted in the tech giant offering £24k worth to help the pair develop a minimum viable product.

Jerome continues: “Since the launch of our MVP back in Aug 2016, we’ve had some real good traction in the market. We have 40k website visits, 230+ film showcased and 350K social media impressions.

“We are currently doing our seed round on Crowdcube and within few days of going live we have had 40+ investors backing us.”

After receiving grant support from Sunderland city council and business support from Sunderland Software City and Tech North, it seems potential success on Crowdcube will be crucial in helping the platform take off.

So why should people get involved in Jerome and Aman’s crowdfunding journey?

Having worked in the film and tech industry and seeing the struggle“, explains Jerome, “we are really driven and passionate to make a change in the industry, Modyst with the right resources and talents can genuinely make a big impact in the market.”

In the world of Subscription Video on Demand, many viewers will be all too familiar with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Mubi.

Netflix and Amazon mainly focus on blockbuster films, leaving little room for independent filmmakers to monetise their content and for the audiences to discover alternative cinema.

Mubi, on the other hand, curates very niche and artsy independent film although is only available for 30 days before they disappear.

This is where Modyst differs. According to Jerome and Aman, their platform focuses on creating a larger window for independent filmmakers, increasing the lifespan of projects while allowing audiences to discover such cinema from around the world in a cost effective way.

Should the platform close its seed round of £150k on Crowdcube, the duo will launch the multi-platform Beta app in the market.

“The perk of the this job is that we not only satisfy our entrepreneurial goals but it what we’re doing also fulfils our creative hunger”, adds Jerome.

Modyst has already started accepting direct film submission from independent filmmakers. To learn more about the platform and get involved with the crowdfunding campaign, visit the Crowdcube page by clicking here.

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