In March 2020, social impact marketer Christie Marchese was about to launch her startup, which would let individuals host screenings of smaller films at mixed-use spaces, such as churches, and build discussions around them. When a movie streams today, it “can definitely have a mass reach, but it’s people having separate experiences,” Marchese says. During lockdown, she moved forward, creating an app that provides hosts with a cloud-based system to securely access a film from a producer or creator, and tools to set up virtual chats and panels.
Since the company, called Kinema, had its soft launch last fall, it has mostly focused on about a dozen documentaries. For example, director Sanjay Rawal enabled 200 hosts, mainly in the United States, to run virtual screenings of Gather, his documentary about Indigenous Americans reclaiming their food heritage. At one event, 1,200 people showed up. Rawal, who owns his work, earned 50% of ticket sales. (Typically, Kinema takes 10%, the host gets 40%, and the other half goes to the rights holder.) Marchese is optimistic about film distribution entering the gig economy. “[If] someone could make $500 hosting a movie one night a week? That’s pretty good money.”
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