Bolstered by a new partnership with Discovery Networks, Viddsee’s unique blend of clickbait and cinema is taking the region’s freshest filmmakers to a worldwide audience
“He Did This Just To Make Her Happy,” the headline reads. “He Took Off His Skin.” Beside it, a still image shows a woman lying in her bed, cradled in the flayed arms of her lover. In passing, it could be mistaken for the internet’s most unsettling pop-up ad. Instead, it links to an article featuring an award-winning short film by Singapore-raised filmmaker Ben Aston. This is Viddsee Buzz, the editorial promotion arm of Southeast Asia’s up-and-coming streaming platform for independent short films: Viddsee.
For Viddsee co-founder Derek Tan, this strange combination of Buzzfeed-style clickbait and a new generation of Southeast Asian auteurs was an obvious way of building a relationship with an audience who could potentially turn to other video-hosting sites for their entertainment needs.
“We’re not dealing with popular Hollywood films or Korean dramas,” Tan said. “So we need to build a trust with our audience and say ‘hey, this is a story that might interest you.’”
Once exclusively the domain of up-and-coming Southeast Asian filmmakers, Viddsee now features short-form content from around the world.
“For us, we’re not just showcasing art-house short film content… but a lot of the times it’s actually stories that are being told by creators,” Tan said, “not just documentaries. We’ve started getting work by filmmakers from Asia, from Iran and Israel, from India to Korea and Japan. And a big part of the content is sharing the films with others, helping them showcase their local story, their local interpretation of different topics, and sharing that global experience.”
This week, Viddsee announced a content partnership with US documentary juggernaut Discovery Networks. The biggest content-sharing agreement for the Singapore-based company since its founding in 2012, the deal will mean that two new Discovery series are available for streaming immediately – and another one added every month. For Tan, the partnership will give Viddsee a chance to be the first to bring Discovery’s professional, high-production work to Southeast Asian audiences.
“It’s really interesting that they’re opening up this new area of entertainment sector content for us,” he said. “At the same time the partnership with Discovery is also looking at opening up that content from its traditional audience to actually see how a younger demographic online would actually look at that content.”
Part of Viddsee’s success can be attributed to a marketing style that reflects the viewing habits of its audience. Taking inspiration from the social networking sites that have defined the online lives of a generation of consumers, Viddsee encourages its audience to share and discuss the short films featured on its site.
“The main thing that we’ve been doing right now is actually experimenting a lot on conversation,” Tan said. “A lot of films based around local stories that deal with global topics actually open up social conversations as well. And people are actually coming in and having those conversations and sharing really personal stories with each other.”
Facing fierce competition from rival streaming sites such as Netflix and Vimeo, Viddsee’s focus on Southeast Asian films – films that often receive little attention outside of the world’s leading film festivals – it’s those local stories, Tan hopes, that will continue to draw audiences to Viddsee.