Movidiam is an ambitious software project combining social networking, film project planning and even secure payments for freelancers and crew. We spoke to Co-Founder George Olver for the background to this software service that has the potential to change the face of the film production industry.
We ran an article back In August about the pre-registration drive for Movidiam, a burgeoning social network for film professionals and platform to bridge the gap between filmmakers, brands, and agencies. If all goes according to plan, film professionals will be able to add profiles and network, and agencies and brand managers will be able to build their production crew. Movidiam even plans on handling payments, making it, potentially, a complete solution for everyone involved.
George Olver, Co-Founder of Movidiam, sat down with us and elaborate on where Movidiam stands at this moment, and how it aims to help the global filmmaking community.
RSN: Most of our readers are likely familiar with Movidiam, but for those still in the dark, can you give us a recap of what Movidiam is and how it differentiates itself from other social networks and job boards for filmmakers?
Olver: Movidiam is both a social network for filmmakers and a project management tool. What we're trying to do there is build a place where filmmakers can celebrate their work and each other's work and also have a side of the website which streamlines the production process. So, all those niggling things that we fill and recognize on a daily basis when producing a film, we fill with leveraging a cloud technology. Creating an application for the cloud is a very useful way for filmmakers to collaborate seamlessly with all the key elements of project management that a film needs, for example a call sheet or a storyboard.
RSN: Your pre-registration site has been live for 3 months now. How would you characterize the response you've received from film professionals?
Olver: We have been blown-away, really, by the response. It's been an unbelievable uptake and it's very positive for us when we're sitting here in the development phase to have such amazing feedback from a world-class array of filmmakers from 148 countries across the globe. So that's been phenomenal for us and it really has vindicated the proof of concept. The next phase is the proof of market. That's where we're really looking forward to opening up the application and sharing, with those great early ambassadors, what we've been working on and how we'll be able to help the global filmmaking community.
RSN: In terms of feedback, is there one big question that keeps popping up from film professionals that are interested in Movidiam, and what's your answer?
Olver: I think because of the avante guard nature of the application and because of what we're projecting Movidiam is going to be able to do, actually, there isn't much out there apart from positivity. There are obviously certain areas of filmmaking, for example, the very high-end Hollywood world, which obviously will have a different treatment on how traditional networks of films have been produced and how capital has been deployed, but I think because of the avante guard nature of what we've been projecting in the initial marketing page with the pre-registration, people have responded very positively, going "Wow, this looks like a group of filmmakers that are thinking about our problems we face on a daily basis and are looking to solve them."
I think that because of the positivity of what we're trying to do, it's being met with positivity. Yes, we have had some regular questions, the most significant one is "When is it launching," which is interesting for two reasons, because 'A' it shows people are engaged and interested and 'B' it shows that the stories we're telling in our marketing messaging, people are feeling aligned with them.
RSN: Do you have a hard launch date secured at this point or are you still building towards that?
Olver: I think the traditional approach with cloud technology is to phase launch and build a process of launch, so it's not like a D-Day countdown, but what we're doing is testing it and taking it from where it is now, which is being internally testing rigorously by the team here at Movidiam and also an external team, then we'll we're going to take it to the first network of filmmakers, and then into live beta and then into live public launch. So it's a phased approach,. The reason we do that is to be very sure about the integrity of the system so that it'll do what it says on the tin. [The topic of launch date is revisited at the end of the interview.]
RSN: Getting it right when you launch big is definitely important, as opposed to having these issues pop up when you have a mass of users.
Olver: It's actually critical, and we really want to maintain a position of authenticity and trust. We really can do this if the experience is seamless. I know there's a certain amount of leeway when we're in beta, but we really want this to be as seamless as possible. We really want filmmakers to feel that this is a trusted site; if that occurs, then it's launched successfully.
RSN: Yeah, I think so much of that trust will grow from those early interactions where filmmakers and film professionals feel that their feedback is being listened to and incorporated into the site.
Olver: Absolutely. Something we've already done to date is when we've had a good number of people requesting the same thing, we take a good look at that in the actual application, and said "Look, this feature...could we do this." And we've had a lot of offers from people to actually create, brainstorm some ideas, and share how they're existing processes work as well - from a global network, a lot of contribution.
RSN: How do you manage such a wide range of contributors - whereas a different model would be to keep everything in house with a small group you're overseeing and letting things develop from there - are there difficulties that are unique to what you're trying to do and how you're doing it?
Olver: I think like all these things, there are many examples in the world, building things by committee can be troublesome, so there's a definitely a defined product lead here, and the inspiration is being set by the team here, but there's only so many people that we can fit in the office and, actually, everyone hits a wall and you need to reach out. We're very lucky that we've got that community that we can reach out to and they're very able to reach out to us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even email, and we've had feedback on all of those channels. I think that's the joy of some of those channels as well.
Agency and Brand Response
RSN: We've been discussing filmmakers and filmmaker response. During this pre-registration phase, what has been your plan for attracting brands and agencies to register and get on board, or is that something that you foresee in the future when you have a large group of film professionals profiles already on the system?
Olver: It's a really interesting question, that, because it's so key that filmmakers feel that there is a big wave of commissioners or people interested in their services coming to the site as well. What we're building here is a double-sided marketplace, not only the means of production, where we're getting great, talented filmmakers to profile, but also commissioners coming to find them for their specialty, their expertise, their geo-location, their kit list, who else they've worked with, et cetera. That is key, and something that's been really interesting even in this phase. Although we've tried to reach specifically out to filmmakers to try to build and scale that number, we've had a lot of business and brands who've also understood the world of freelance filmmaking is changing, and their demands to produce lots of content regularly for their brands' social channels are changing, and therefore they are prepared to investigate new ways of producing films, so it's very interesting.
Although I wouldn't go into the names of the companies who have pre-registered, there are very significant global brands, producers and marketing managers from global brands who have recognized that if they are savvy and want to administer a project themselves, they could visit the system, or refer their agency to the system, as a tool to access the right talent and build the best product.
RSN: Shifting gears a bit, I have a couple of questions about money. If I'm not mistaken, Movidiam will generate revenue through Project Pro, a suite of project management tools. It's a $25/month subscription to support as many projects as you're managing that month. But your platform also offers a secure payment system for crew. Does Movidiam take a cut of those payments and if so at what percent?
Olver: To answer the question straight out, yes, there will be a service fee for administering, as you defined it, the crew payments. We see this as a big pain point for producing films in a globalized world where you might need to have crew or producers, sound, and editors in disparate locations all across the world. We're hoping that the profiles and the integrity of the profiles can be very securely produced so that payment transactions can go between producers and agencies, agencies and freelancers, et cetera. To administer that in the current landscape, there will have to be a service fee and that fee is 5%.
RSN: Whenever money is involved, conflict of some kind is sure to follow - specifically between filmmakers, film professionals, brands and agencies. Will have Movidiam have protocols in place for dispute resolution, say if one party doesn't perform its end of the bargain, if an agency or brand is unhappy with the quality of work, or if a filmmaker is unhappy do to non-payment?
Olver: It's a key part of it; what we're planning to do in the initial phases, and again, we're going to build this understanding of the how filmmakers are going to take up this way of doing things, and listen to their feedback, but we're going to front-load that conversation with building contract notes at the beginning of the process. I think a lot of these things occur because people haven't communicated clearly the expectation, the scope of work, the deliverables, so we're creating a framework to indelibly score that in at the right stage of the process. So that's our first point to making sure that disputes are few and far between. The second point is, ultimately, having a dispute resolution center, and there are many examples out there of ticketed processes and they get escalated based on the size of the funds at stake or the duration that it's been going on. And, again, we'll be looking at the most efficient way of doing that as we get uptake from users.
Vetting for Trust
RSN: When building a social network, especially one that deals as this one does, in payments, so much is dependent on gaining the trust of the communities involved. What steps has Movidiam taken in reassuring film professionals, agencies and brands that Movidiam is a platform to be trusted and that participants with profiles on the site are trustworthy themselves? What exactly do you do to vet site users?
Olver: When you are making a network like this, it is one of the big challenges. I think, again, firstly, we're dealing with a professional social network here. This is not a social network in a marketplace site for lots of verticals. This is specifically filmmakers and the the kinds of businesses wanting them. So, firstly, you de-risk it slightly by just being in that niche. Obviously, although I wouldn't want to point any fingers, there are going to be some less ethical players inside that mix. The key thing here is to verify the user and the profile so that people are who they say they are. There are a number of strategies to doing that, which at the very highest end involve putting in your passport information and registering your ID, and at the lower end, the more networks you register with consistent email addresses, the more verified your profile becomes, therefore more integrity your profile has. And also, we mustn't forget that there are a number of peer testimonials that go into it as well, so if Alex and I have made this film and I've worked with Alex fifteen times before, it's probably true, whereas if I pick some guy out of the blue and said I've worked with him...so there's a back-and-forth and approval process through client testimonials and for credits as well. The actual community is slightly self-crediting.
I think the way to think about it is like a mosaic. The more overall information that goes in there, the more verified, the more passport details, the more credit cards you have logged into the system, the bigger of a mosaic to where we can build a full picture of who you are. There's a gold standard of user that will endeavor to get as much information on there as possible because it will show that they're trustworthy and actually delivery good, high quality work.
RSN: And, of course, you have to extra take steps on your side to ensure that sensitive and private information is kept secure.
Olver: It's absolutely essential and it's something we're looking to very trusted global brands and third parties who maintain and host a lot of that information.
An Incentive for Immediate Action
RSN: Thanks so much for taking to us! Finally, is there anything you'd like to say to anyone sitting on the fence to persuade them to sign up?
Olver: Yes. During this pre-registration phase, we are offering two months of Project Pro [suite of project management tools] for free. It's something we will be charging for later on in the process - that's a big incentive with actually pre-registering with us.
RSN: So, it's basically a $50 value.
Olver: Exactly, and it's also key in terms of sharing Movidiam with the community of filmmakers, because the more people, the more three man, four man, ten man teams, whether that's a team of wedding videographers, whether that's a team of golf filming enthusiasts, or quadcopter guys, or a team of mountaineering videographers, and through a list of DoPs, et cetera - it's important to reach out to your community, because Movidiam's going to be a better place with as many people on it as possible.
At the close of the interview, while saying our goodbyes, one final bit of information was revealed: Movidiam is preparing for a Q1 2015 beta launch, targeting January/February.