There are so many incredible documentaries out there that have genuinely changed my perception of life. Whether causing me to seriously re-evaluate my lifestyle (I turned vegetarian in 2016 after watching Racing Extinction and switched to a plant-based lifestyle after seeing Earthlings the following year), or spurring me into action to join the fight against an injustice (I attended my first protest march against Taiji Cove’s dolphin slaughter after watching The Cove), there have been a fair few films in recent years that have had an immediate impact.
Helping to spread a message
One thing I’ve always found challenging, however, is that the accessibility of these important films can end up being a barrier to spreading their vital awareness.
Remembering how and where to reach these great films in order to pass them onto friends or fellow advocates can present an obstacle: for example, I watched The Cove via its official website, Racing Extinction on DVD, JANE when it aired on National Geographic Channel, Virunga on Netflix, Earthlings on YouTube, etc.
This has also meant that most of the environmental films I’ve watched have been directly recommended to me. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a wealth of these types of documentaries and thought-provoking fictional narrative films in one place? To know exactly where to go to discover more for yourself, to be able to instantly follow up with more information on the issue at hand, and discover ways to immediately get involved?
Enter ECOSTREAMZ; a documentary subscription service with a difference. I spoke to Jim Branchflower, Founder and CEO of ECOSTREAMZ to find out more….
The concept behind ECOSTREAMZ
Hi Jim, nice to chat to you. Can you tell us a bit about what ECOSTREAMZ actually is?
Wow. Where to begin? Well, there are lots of different digital streaming services out there. But the one thing I’ve noticed over the last several years is that not one of them has directly focused on the global activist community.
ECOSTREAMZ is changing that. We are creating an ever-evolving platform providing concerned citizens of the world with a variety of media, not just film, covering issues from wildlife conservation to human rights to the environment — all of which are important to the world today.
Our sincere hope is that over time, ECOSTREAMZ, will become THE preeminent online community and media resource for global impact activism.
Wow, I’m super excited! What charities/ projects / film makers does ECOSTREAMZ currently support?
While our site visitors are the ones who support these wonderful organisations, filmmakers and projects by subscribing to ECOSTREAMZ and/or donating to a participating cause, we facilitate their philanthropy through our easy to use platform.
In terms of who we’ve partnered with, the list is constantly growing, but currently includes WildAid, In Defense of Animals, Ape Alliance, UNICEF, The Borneo Project, Wild and Scenic Film Festival and the International Wildlife Film Festival. Some of the films on our site include award-winning, festival favourites such as Angel Azul, Blood Lions, Gods in Shackles and Sides of a Horn.
Why did this streaming service come into fruition? Whose idea was it?
When I came on the film distribution scene in 2013, the landscape was changing. As the cost of digital video equipment and desktop editing software came down and the quality began to rise, more and more really great hi-quality content was being produced. It was literally a buyer’s market for the networks. No longer did broadcasters have to settle.
As a result, only subject matter which was deemed ratings winners were picked. Blue chip natural history and science programming produced and narrated by the top names in the business were what were acquired leaving thousands of amazing and critically important films out in the cold.
Ironically, the more content was available, the less was selected. What had once been a pretty lucrative career for both filmmaker and distributor, had dried up for most independents.
Additionally, license fees were in a free fall. While $50,000 or $100,000 deals were once pretty common, now filmmakers were lucky to make $5,000 and $10,000 from a deal. Distribution in the traditional sense was not a viable option for either my independent film clients or myself.
Something had to change. Thus, ECOSTREAMZ was born.
After talking to some of my clients and close confidants, I decided it was necessary to create our own market through a dedicated streaming service where we could control the variables to success. Our attitude was and continues to be, documentaries can change the world, but only if they’re seen. ECOSTREAMZ accomplishes that!
I understand you have some big names in conservation supporting ECOSTREAMZ, such as biologist and renowned gorilla and elephant advocate Ian Redmond…
Yes, Ian and I have been good friends for a decade now and though we’ve collaborated on a couple of different projects, ECOSTREAMZ has been the one closest to both of our hearts.
In addition to contributing considerable personal resources to the company, Ian has been instrumental in promoting ECOSTREAMZ. His name and reputation in the wildlife conservation community have helped secure numerous deals and establish countless partnerships.
Ian is one of the kindest, most ethical people I have ever known, and It is without question that if he had not been involved, ECOSTREAMZ would not be here today.
Why subscribe to ECOSTREAMZ?
Simple. Through ECOSTREAMZ, not only will subscribers receive 24/7 access to some of the most important impact documentaries available, but 80% of ECOSTREAMZ’ net revenue goes directly back to the filmmakers and participating organiSations whose films and videos subscribers watch, allowing them to continue their work.
At $2.50/month or $25/year, our subscription fee is among the lowest in the industry. And if subscribers are a little hesitant with paying for the service, they can try ECOSTREAMZ for free for the first week.
The bottom line is; the benefits of joining ECOSTREAMZ, greatly outweigh the nominal cost!
What are your future plans for ECOSTREAMZ?
Great question. As I mentioned, this has been an evolutionary process for all of us. When I started ECOSTREAMZ I wanted to create a place where independent documentary filmmakers could get a fair chance at gaining exposure for their films and perhaps even make enough money to pay back investors and put into their next production.
But what we are finding is that ECOSTREAMZ has the potential to be so much more. As was previously stated, the ultimate goal for this platform is to become THE preeminent online community and media resource for global impact activism.
While Phase 1 of ECOSTREAMZ, the film streaming service, is live, we have been working behind the scenes on Phase 2* which is due to launch Mid October 2019. To create a truly interactive, community-based website we are adding the following sections to roll out on a monthly basis starting in September.
- Community Forum
- V/R, A/R
- Livestream/Community Upload
- Service Directory
- Reviews of services and products relating to activism and activist oriented filmmaking
The exciting thing is that every aspect of this site will be interconnected.
When you pull up a film, not only will all info about the film and filmmaker pop up, but anything and everything related to the topic of the film will populate that page. You will see any news, organizations, books, festivals, other films, etc.
Visitors will also be able to make individual contributions (in addition or instead of subscription fees) to both filmmakers/projects/festivals and organisations.
I’m sure there will be much more added as time progresses. We’ll probably call that Phase 3!
*If you would like to participate in the BETA TEST of ECOSTREAMZ new Phase 2 website (which begins on 15th September and is free of charge), please submit your e-mail address to: firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line of ECOSTREAMZ BETA TEST.