One man, no budget, and a high-definition streaming TV channel. Mission Impossible? Maybe. Maybe not.
Chris Thompson hasn’t watched TV or listened to the radio in almost three years. Most great film work, he says, is never seen and is nearly impossible to find amidst the sea of grassroots content online.
In mid January, he started 16mmtv.net, a non-profit streaming channel designed to showcase great original work from around the world, from 7pm to midnight every night. The emphasis is on creativity and integrity – no commercial submissions are accepted, and the site is not supported by advertising or sponsorship.
“People just want their work to be seen, and there’s certainly no magical career boost regardless of how many ‘likes’ you get. Plus, most people find new stuff via branded content or ‘clever’ marketing campaigns. To me that’s a monopoly that shouldn’t exist.
“We are trying to take back the medium and really make a place where great work can live. In an almost ironic sense, almost all of the contributors work in high-end commercial film operations and earn their crust from making work in the realm of mainstream media.
“Luckily for the rest of us they bring those world-class skills to their own unique stories and I think that’s where the really great work is being made.”
Thompson reckons he spends about 35 hours a week on 16mmtv, broadcasting the live shows plus scouting out fresh video. For the most part, it’s a one-man band, helped along by some volunteers and passionate fans.
The biggest learning curve? “Figuring out how to run a high-definition streaming TV channel with no budget! The internet connection needed to broadcast 16mmtv is very expensive, not to mention the automation and database programmes, which I had to learn from scratch. Luckily my day job came to the party [he’s head of studio at Droga5 Sydney] and let me piggy back on their internet connection, so hats off to them for their generosity.”
Thompson hopes to eventually build a catalogue of 1,000 hours of top-notch work and a reputation for curating the best.
“Sometimes we broadcast work no conventional TV channel would dare to broadcast. I also have a personal aim of getting a submission from every country in the world. We’re up to 45 countries, so we have a wee way to go!”