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Bérengère Dastarac • Founder, Nowave VoD platform

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- Cineuropa met up with Bérengère Dastarac, the creator of Nowave, a highly innovative video on demand platform

Bérengère Dastarac • Founder, Nowave VoD platform

Cineuropa met up with Bérengère Dastarac, the creator of Nowave, a highly innovative video on demand platform.

Cineuropa: Can you tell us about Nowave?
Bérengère Dastarac: Nowave is a subscription-based video on demand (SVoD) service that is accessible in France and, more recently, in England. The subscription amounts to £6.99 per month (or €7.99) and provides access to the entire contents of the platform. We have thematic selections of films curated by personalities and experts. This means we have fewer films each month, but films that have been chosen very carefully. This allows us to shine a spotlight on lesser-known films, on genre films, auteur films, experimental movies, shorts, long films and documentaries. In February, for instance, the theme was curated by a Parisian street artist, who took us on a graffiti trail that was made in the city of Toulouse with a whole map of the city, with very beautiful murals. This selection also brings us to a range of zombie-related events because he loves zombie films. We offer the opportunity to register to participate in a zombie aperitif, to organise a zombie wedding, to take part in a zombie march in Paris, Bordeaux or elsewhere. But we also offer more serious products, such as a book on sociological studies dealing with the phenomenon of zombies since its creation. So in short, the selections we offer are diverse, which will make it possible to include cinema in culture in a broader sense. We also see cinema as a cultural tool.

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And how many films do you offer each month?
So far, we have four films per month, but soon we’ll be offering between eight and ten. Next month, we're going to collaborate with two festivals: Cinelatino, a Latin American film festival, and the European Film Festival of Lille, from which we have a selection of seven short films. As for Cinelatino, we have a film that will simultaneously be available on the platform, at the festival and on Pocket Video (Vidéo en poche). With this last device, 15 cinemas in France are offering to put films onto USB sticks from a catalogue of films that they have selected. So we will experiment and attempt to show this film via three different mediums at the same time. We also have other films from last year's selection from Cinelatino, dedicated to films made by Latin American women.

Do you plan to extend the platform to other European countries?
Yes. But we will have to comply with the constraints of the languages available to us. We will suggest to open up the platform and renegotiate the rights of the films in the French-speaking countries of Europe - ie, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland. We’re going to Quebec in April to see under what conditions we could open there. Furthermore, since the platform is also available in English, as it’s open in the UK, we would like to extend it to some countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In North Africa, there’s a whole network of arthouse cinemas, and I am currently in contact with some of them in an attempt to establish a partnership. We would like to work together with cinemas, and not solely on the platform.

What is the biggest difficulty in launching this platform? Acquiring the rights? Geographical location?
Acquiring the rights to films is difficult. Furthermore, our business model is not always ideal for distributors because we share revenue. The idea is to give as much revenue as possible to the rights holder, but not without a minimum guarantee (MG). It has also been difficult to attract subscribers, but above all, to retain them. We do in fact offer them a month free for them to discover the platform, but the goal is for them to stay on afterwards, and it isn’t always easy.

What is the minimum number of users you would like to have?
For our expenses and revenues to be balanced, we would need 2,500 by the end of the year. That would be ideal. We hope to achieve this goal since the platform is already available in two countries and should be in others by the end of the year.

What is your marketing strategy? Do you have a budget?
We work with finely targeted press, and we make some press announcements. We also work with bloggers, we’re active on social networks and we’re starting to communicate through genre, short and arthouse film festivals, depending on the audience we want to reach and target. We're also working on a major project at the moment: in several cities in France, we want to organise soirées centred on cult movies in order to break into a younger market and to attract new users to the platform.

So the fact that the acquisition of rights is done on a country-by-country basis causes you trouble?
We certainly have our work cut out. If we want to show a film in several territories, we will have to look for the rights holders in each of the countries, and consequently multiply the negotiations. At the moment, every time we add a film, we try to negotiate for France and the United Kingdom. In the UK, we have access to more recent catalogues. We aren’t tied down by the distribution windows like we are in France, that is to say 36 months after the theatrical release. This makes things easier, as we can explore ways of simultaneous broadcasting, on SVoD and in theatres, which is not possible in France.

(Translated from French by Hannah Thompson)

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