VOLTA, an Online Film Streaming Platform for Irish Audiences
As part of our celebration of the 25th anniversary of the MEDIA programme, we profile Irish companies who have received Creative Europe MEDIA funding. As well as funding production companies, MEDIA supports the distribution of European film through various support schemes for theatrical and online release. Fostering audiences and helping people get access to European film and culture is another vital element of Creative Europe’s overall remit.
Volta - Video on Demand was launched by Element Pictures Distribution in 2010. Volta is a Video on Demand platform for Ireland and is a founding member of EuroVOD which received MEDIA support. Created in 2010, EuroVoD is a network of independent European Video on Demand platforms specialising in art-house films and independent cinema. EuroVoD strives to defend cultural diversity and with members in 12 countries, the network reaches a European audience of more than 385 million people, with more than 10,000 films available to watch.
Charlene Lydon – Programming and Editorial Manager, volta
Charlene joined Element Pictures in 2010 as Development Assistant after completing a Masters in Film Theory and History and spending time working as a film journalist. In 2011, she joined Volta as Programming and Editorial Manager. She is also the Programmer for the Light House Cinema since it re-opened in January, 2012.
1. Explain Volta to those who don’t yet know about it? What’s the story behind its name?
Charlene: Volta is an Irish video-on-demand service which specialises in Irish and international independent films. We launched the site in 2012 and have been growing our service and catalogue ever since. The name is a reference to Ireland’s very first cinema, which was founded by James Joyce in 1909.
2. Do you have some favourite European films, or film-makers, from today or spanning the past two decades you think deserve to be more widely appreciated?
Charlene: Personally I’m a big fan of Lars Von Trier and Pedro Almodovar but I don’t think you could say they need to be more widely appreciated. They are internationally recognised. I’m a big fan of Scandinavian Cinema – lately those countries have been producing some really interesting films with a sharp sense of humour. I also have an affection for recent French horror. They’re doing wonderful work in the genre.
3. Mattress Men will be a DAY & DATE release? What does this mean for Irish audiences?
Charlene: Mattress Men is a rare Irish Day & Date release which means it will be available to stream on Volta at the same time as it is released in Irish cinemas. In the mission to get as many Irish people as possible to engage with independent Irish films, I think the Day & Date model works really well. Outside of Dublin, it’s not always possible to access indie and arthouse films. For a film like Mattress Men, the potential for it to reach people outside of the main cities via Volta's Video on Demand service gives it a much stronger reach on it’s opening week and hopefully more financial success also.
4. You curate VOLTA’s collections and many of the European films are MEDIA-funded. Do you think it’s important to support European film and have you curated specific European online festivals?
Charlene: The Irish film industry is growing constantly and is hugely supported by European film funding. It is important to nourish the artistic comminuty within Europe and to ensure that talent is supported as much as possible. There is a massively diverse range of voices in European cinema which is absolutely wonderful and helps to give us a better understanding of our neighbours and an appreciation of the communities and landscapes of Europe. As part of Eurovod, Volta has taken part in Streams online film festival that showcases films (features and shorts) from all the partner countries which would not otherwise have distribution outside of their home country. The festival is really successful and works for audiences and for film producers. We have also supported My French Film Festival which focuses on bringing French films to European audiences outside of France.
5.Volta is a member of EuroVOD – do you work with the other members to actively engage with European audiences? Do you think there is an appetite for European film amongst Irish audiences?
Charlene: I think there’s definitely an appetite for European film. Film lovers enjoy seeing stories from all kinds of cultures. Part of the appeal of film is the opportunity to delve into worlds different from our own. Through online festivals and shared content, we (and the other members of Eurovod) highlight the films from our countries across the entire continent.
6.Lastly, how do you see Volta growing in the future?
Charlene: I believe that Irish audiences (and Irish broadband) are catching up with the growth of the video-on-demand industry and we would hope that we will continue to grow our catalogue and especially Day & Date releases so that Volta becomes synonymous with independent Irish and European cinema.
Thanks to Charlene for talking to us. Log onto Volta.ie and create your Volta account to start watching the best of Irish and European films straigtht away!
And make sure to watch Creative Europe Ireland MEDIA's Celebrating 25 Years of MEDIA Online Festival hosted by Volta. The online festival will run for four weeks from 7th October to 4th November and will highlight a selection of MEDIA funded films representing 25 years of the programme. The Festival will feature small innovative collections including: Irish MEDIA Films; European Female Talent; Recent European Gems; and Oscar Nominated MEDIA Films. This online festival is a great way to catch up on films you might have missed over the years!