How We Started A Mobile Cinema

Derek Tan
Derek Tan
Sep 28, 2015 · 4 min read
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A wall mural of Viddsee short films’ characters

Andri Cung’s ‘Revenge’ is an emotional and haunting tale of revenge exacted by a Javanese woman on her cheating lover. ‘Fall’ by Norris Wong is an intriguing tale about a woman battling her insecurities and her relationship with the truth. Both films wowed jurors in film festivals in the region, in India, Indonesia, Thailand and in Hong Kong.

Then ‘Revenge’ and ‘Fall’ caught on a second wave of viewers on Viddsee, racking 500,000 viewers and 300,000 viewers respectively.

There’s a demand for short-form, quality content, and we’re seeing this new wave happening with mobile-powered cinema, now in Asia.

When Jian and I dreamt of Viddsee, we did so by recognising that stories from Asia can exist in a digital age, but it would do better as a collective, on a platform. It needed to reach our audiences, directly. We built a platform to distribute quality, curated content, directly to viewers and readers. We believed that there was an audience for quality entertainment, and we built our vision around it, and we tagged the word awesome around it.

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“Date Me Next Time Please” by James Lee

Just managing and funneling content would be doing these stories a disservice. It also wasn’t scalable. We would just be another engine or content farm, we would be tomorrow’s old news. We recognised the function of storytelling in our culture, as diverse and discrete these cultures may be. We also recognised and rediscovered that it is still relevant in the digital age.

Jian and I decided early on content would be the core of our product. It would guide our design philosophy, our user experience, and be one of the many touch points of user engagement.

We reached out to like-minded individuals and organisations, we hired developers, writers, editors and content managers. We vowed to respect creators and to respect our viewers. Building community and strategic distribution became one and the same. We would engage users around content, and to bring content creators and producers closer to them.

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“Mom” by Wooksang Chang

On our social platforms, films did its job as entertainment, and then it became personal as they were familiar. Our audience could relate, they were engaged. What worked for us in making it personal was that we didn’t have superstars shouldering the burden of film marketing. The stories did the job.

Viewers in the Philippines were as engaged as Taiwanese viewers, even films from Indonesia, like Andri’s or from Hong Kong, like Norris’. Our next challenge was to cut through the noise. We recognised that we are part of the shift in media consumption, we utilised platforms and tools that helped us surface films to its respective audiences.

We didn’t start this venture to claim exclusivity to content. Sharing is a big part of the Internet ecosystem, and thus we encouraged social sharing. We complemented each film with a marketing push with our editorial brand, Viddsee BUZZ, and multiplied our reach by positioning our editorials for different markets, such as in Taiwan, Philippines and Indonesia.

We cultivated relationships with publishers and other platforms like Youtube, Yahoo, and Huffington Post. We believed that Asian content could also find an international audience, and boy did it. They were engaged, and similar with the diaspora in the United States, in the UAE, and in the UK. And these numbers kept on growing.

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“Tudung” by N Thilagan

The cinematic experience has become personal, directly to mobile, but the true potential in this new cinematic revival is in how content is no longer exclusive and in how the audience is no longer confined within a cinema hall. The engagement, conversations and stories from our parts of the world are no longer just exotic or waiting to be re-colonised or re-framed from an outsider’s point of view.

Our products are designed to promote the accessibility to content, to build a community around content, and to power conversations and enable a journey of discovery. The ecosystem of online content is changing, and it’s a very gratifying to know we are making a difference as we are only two years in since our founding.

Jian and I have built this platform for Asian stories and voices. It’s great to see filmmakers grow their audience with great content and awesome storytelling with us. Our next big goal is to welcome filmmakers to make their next films with us and help brands tell their stories with us.

And we’re not just talking about stories from Asia to sell Asia as a tourist destination. Sure, give us our lush, high-def, buzzy, feel-good cityscape and natural wonders. We’d love to explore real stories. In multiple languages, sure. In multiple countries, no problems. As long as it helps us continue discover ourselves, we’ll take it on.

Write in, and story us!

Watch awesome short films at, or download our app on theApple App Store or Google Play Store now!

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