Case Study: Indie Film Streaming Platform

The Problem

For Filmmakers:

In an increasingly competitive market, Independent Filmmakers struggle to find a distribution channel for their projects. It’s a largely unprofitable sector of the entertainment industry.

For Audiences:

With so many choices of what to watch on streaming platforms, viewers struggle to make a decision, and rely more on word of mouth to discover new content.

How Might We…

enable Independent Filmmakers to self-distribute their content,
and make it easier for viewers to discover on a streaming platform?

My Role

Sole UX Designer working on the project.

The Research

The first step in researching was to interview a small selection of streaming platform viewers and independent filmmakers.

Summary of findings

User behaviors and frustrations

  • Users love new content, but often have a hard time finding it when relying solely on the current platforms algorithms. They tend to follow word-of-mouth recommendations
  • They prefer watching at home on larger screens – they rarely watch videos on their phones unless it’s a viral YouTube video, or showing in their Facebook feed
  • Users are frustrated by the marketing objectives of existing streaming platforms that seem to push certain content over others that might be more relevant to them as viewers
  • With the variety of streaming platforms available, making the decision on what to watch can be time consuming

Independent filmmaker behaviors and frustrations

  • Most creators struggle to find an audience, especially using free platforms like YouTube, where competition is viral videos or non-narrative content
  • Their biggest problem in being an independent creator is the struggle to make a profit from their projects. They often don’t recoup their costs, and rarely make a profit
  • Believe that the only way for their project to be discovered is to spend money they don’t have to promote it
  • Would like to self-distribute if there was an easier, more cost-effective way for their projects to be discovered

Viewers

Usually watch at home
Daily time spent watching varies widely – anywhere from 1-6 hours
Most view on TV, computer or tablet, not phones
Always searching for new content, often rely on word-of-mouth over algorithm recommendations
Tendency towards comedy genre when time is limited
Most believe that marketing gets in the way of genuine recommendations on existing platforms

Independent Filmmakers

Most struggle to find an audience, especially using free platforms like YouTube, where competition is viral videos or non-narrative content
Short films are not seen as profitable projects. Not worth investing time and money into when they can’t recover expenses
Believe that the only way for their project to be discovered is to spend money to promote it
Would like to self-distribute if there was a better platform that made it easier for their projects to be discovered

Online research

Preliminary online research proved that although there are already a large number of streaming platforms, only one dealt exclusively with content from independent filmmakers. However when asked if users knew of the platform, none responded that they did.

The Process

Based on the research, a new streaming platform that focuses exclusively on content submitted by Independent Filmmakers appears to be a welcome addition from both users and creators.

Initially, I focused the design exploration on the user screens – how would they interact with the platform and discover relevant content?

Flow Diagram

Wireframes

In developing the wireframes, I followed the typical user pattern for registering an account and setting up billing. Beyond that, I wanted to customise the user’s experience by creating an in-depth user profile. By asking the user to provide information on their existing likes and dislikes, the algorithm can immediately provide a customised experience for the user once they arrive at their Home Screen.

The other new feature I wanted to introduce is QuickView, which is intended to save the user from wasting time browsing through hundreds of videos to choose what to watch. Instead, it would ask two very simple questions:

  • What genre?
  • How much time?

Several iterations of this screen were explored, as shown here.

Final Design

Initial user testing of the QuickView screens confirmed my assumption that users preferred the flexibility provided by a slider function. Keeping QuickView as a standalone screen maintains the user’s focus and avoids confusion and distractions. Testing of the Genre Rating screen showed that while visually appealing, this version of the screen proved too confusing to users as it is an interaction that they are not already familiar with. Further exploration is needed to determine the ideal interface.

High Fidelity Wireframes

User Interface Designs

Future Directions

In order to fully develop this platform, more research and exploration is needed to develop an administration workflow for Independent Filmmakers to register and upload their projects onto the platform.

Further exploration of the onboarding process would be useful to simplify the process while strengthening the quality of the user’s viewing preferences, and provide a better quality experience.