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By  Weerada P. Sucharitkul

FilmDoo Co-founder

Last Friday 11th March marked the kick-off of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin Texas, also known as SXSW. The 10-day event showcases the convergence of film, music and technology. Every year, there is much fanfare and anticipation around the festival’s phenomenal exhibits, conferences, networking, brand activation, food & drinks, live music and films. More so than ever in 2016 because the SXSW Keynote Speaker was none other than Mr President himself, Barack Obama, who was being interviewed by Evan Smith, the Editor in Chief of the Texas Tribune.

In his interview, President Obama acknowledged that we are at a point in human history with an unprecedented pace of change. These changes have the ability to create significant opportunities which are, at the same time, disruptive and unsettling. Empowering people to do things no one thought were previously possible has in itself become a double-edged sword which also empowers other individuals with dangerous agendas to spread their threatening messages to the world.  President Obama calls for citizen engagement and the convergence of the government, the private sector and non-profit to harness these changes in a positive manner, towards helping to promote democracy.

In an age in which people are getting information through digital platforms, through the Internet, where people’s attention spans have shrunk, it is critical that all of you who are shaping this environment are spending time thinking about how are we getting people — how are we getting citizens engaged, and you, yourselves have to be engaged and spend some time thinking about it.  It doesn’t mean you have to do it full-time. It doesn’t mean that you have to run for office yourself. But it does mean that whatever your field is, there is a way right now for you to engage and participate to take this democracy back in ways that we have not seen in a very long time. “

(President Obama’s statement)

FilmDoo is doing its part in harnessing the power of these disruptive changes to help raise awareness of important social, environmental and cultural issues through the multifaceted human stories as expressed through films.  As an emotional and visually engaging medium, films have immense power to move audiences, to connect them to a cause that deserves attention from around the world.   Yet ultimately, the film distribution industry predates the internet and thousands of films each year remain unseen, their distribution left to the decisions and power of a few.

"Whatever your field is, there is a way right now for you to engage and participate to take this democracy back in ways that we have not seen in a very long time."
“Whatever your field is, there is a way right now for you to engage and participate to take this democracy back in ways that we have not seen in a very long time.”

The film industry is ripe for democratisation, giving voices to these stories and the causes which deserve the right to be seen and heard from around the world.  In this day and age of instant connectivity, there is no longer an excuse for movies to not be easily discoverable and accessible in a legal way and at the right price point to an audience who wants see that content.  The heart of FilmDoo is all about giving power back to the general public and to give them the right to discover and access that content if they wish to do so.  Through our innovative user-generated demand platform, we are creating a world where viewers can watch movies online that had not previously been available to them and film makers have a more egalitarian model to quickly distribute to a global audience base.

What President Obama stated at SXSW highlights the significant need for innovation in the film distribution industry: It’s not enough just to focus on what’s the cool next thing.  Part of what we have to do is to figure out how do we use and harness the cool next thing to make sure that everybody in this country has opportunity.”

At FilmDoo, we are harnessing this “cool next thing” to encourage engagement and discussions on issues and themes which these films bring to light, films which are historical and social achievements in themselves beyond their entertainment value.  Ultimately, citizen engagement is about people exercising their power and their right to choose, to discuss and to be heard on issues which they find relevant through different channels, including films. To embrace technological advancements to redefine and innovate the way people discover and watch films, and to give people control of what they want to watch rather than settling for what’s available to them from entities with massive marketing resources behind them, are inclinations found in the DNA of FilmDoo.

President Obama’s SXSW interview should be viewed on a universal scale and not just for the citizens of the United States.  It is a call for global citizens to rise up, engage and be part of these exciting shifts and disruptions towards a democratised global society across all industries, including the film industry.

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