Short circuits of Southeast Asian cinema: Viddsee and the project of online social viewing

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Referred to alternately as micro-cinema (Baumgartel 2011), mini films (Foo 2002), and light movies (Voci 2012), the short format film has been integral to the development of Southeast Asian cinema s increasingly prominent international profile in the last two decades. While the exhibition of short films from Southeast Asia has grown on the major international film festival circuit, what is far less examined is the formation of a regional viewing community that is growing in parallel, online. chapter examines the role played by Singapore start-up company Viddsee, which promotes itself as an online social watching platform, in growing this community. Co-founded by engineer/filmmakers Ho Jia Jian and Derek Tan in September 2012, Viddsee was built when Ho and Tan struggled to find distribution for their own short film productions. The chapter evaluates how online distribution and exhibition sites like Viddsee are responding to, and in turn precipitating, different audience consumption practices as filmmakers in Southeast Asia continue to seek ways of making and marketing films that have relevance beyond local audiences while at the same time building an active (online) community in the region. Online film distribution in Asia has tended to be associated with piracy-that is, the illegal download of film and television programs through the Internet in tandem with the physical circulation of pirated DVDs and VCDs. This chapter focuses on the more productive (and legal) aspects of online film distribution and exhibition to consider how online viewing forms part of the sociality of everyday life in Southeast Asia and how independent filmmakers from the region are actively participating in the creation of an online community and network. Before introducing the example of Viddsee, it is worthwhile briefly outlining the development of independent cinema in Southeast Asia, particularly through the short format film.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of New Media in Asia
EditorsLarissa Hjorth, Olivia Khoo
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781138026001
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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