Film fans, this story’s for you. The British Film Council has spent £1 million on developing a new website called FindAnyFilm. It’s been seven months in development, and aims to combine cinema listings with links to buy DVDs or downloads, or watch films online.
The implementation is very simple – just put in the name of a film, actor/actress, genre, or the name of a cinema, and you’ll be presented with a list of relevant results. It’s well-implemented, though I ran into a few launch-day bugs, like not being able to display a map of where a specific cinema was. I’m sure that kind of thing will be fixed by the end of the week.
The site promotes big new releases, as well as offering trailers, competitions, and a page discussing the quality of different formats with the briefest of mentions of piracy concerns. In fact the whole site seems very light on its mention of piracy – which is good, considering that that’s undoubtedly what the project is about.
The Film Council’s head of distribution and exhibitions, Peter Buckingham, confirms this, saying:
“(Firstly,) we’d like to get people to watch a wide range of films and not be dominated by Hollywood. Secondly, we want to make sure the film industry doesn’t suffer the same problems the music industry had getting value in the digital world, specifically dealing with downloads. There’s nothing out there doing exactly what we’re doing.”
Although there’s parallels here with the Amazon-owned IMDB, FindAnyFilm is UK-focused and offers a very different experience. Interestingly there’s no sign of a counter to IMDB’s community aspects – no user reviews or message boards. That would be understandable a few years back, but it seems very strange for a site launching in 2009, and might cost them users.
So how will they compete? Well, half the budget’s been spent on SEO and AdWords, which should get them some short-term traffic. There’s also the obligatory iPhone and Facebook applications that’ll help. In the long term, though, will the lack of community stifle the site’s userbase?
Overall, I’m impressed by FindAnyFilm. It doesn’t try to do too much, it’s got a great interface, it’s got links to everything, and it tracked down all but the most obscure movies that I searched for. In conclusion: Thumbs up from me. What do you think? Opinions in the comments, please.