A New Light for Social Cinema

Editor's Note: When I discover new platforms for filmmakers to get their work seen, I tend to invite the innovators to write a post to introduce our readers to the service.  This is not an endorsement, but I do find it thrilling there are so many options!

by Colin George, Editor-in-Chief, Cinecliq.com

The lights are down. The score swells. Unbelievable — that guy three rows down is texting again.

How many times has this happened to you? Moviegoing, real moviegoing, is an increasingly alienating experience, thanks in part to smartphone dependency and our addiction to social media. We can’t even go cold turkey for two hours. Watching movies can and should be a communal experience, but that white rectangle three rows down illuminates the face of an outlier, not a participant.

So how do we reconcile our shared love for cinematic storytelling with our growing need for 24/7 connectivity? So far, the answer has been segregation — leading theater chains have proposed separate screenings encouraging texters and tweeters to ‘light up’ throughout. Conversely, purists at the Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse took a hard stance against cellphone use, turning a profanity-laden voicemail from a disgruntled ex-patron into their corporate credo: “Thanks for not coming back to the Alamo, texter!”

Talkers are even more despised by cinephiles. The loudest are the youngest: hyperactive teens for whom the prospect of sitting quietly for two primetime Friday hours is a fate worse than death. No wonder their generation is disenfranchised with the stalwart traditions of movie night — the anonymous shhh! that silences them is the only acceptable social gesture made the entire evening.

Maybe their frustration, coupled with the frustration of the patrons they rudely interrupt, account for the recent spike in video-on-demand popularity. Or maybe it’s the thirteen dollar popcorn and 40 oz soda combo. More and more, would-be theatergoers are consuming feature films at home and on-the-go, watching with a small circle of family or friends, or alone on their commute.

But by limiting the theater audience to available couch space, the current VOD model eschews community in favor of convenience. Additionally, Netflix has stripped back social features from its service, which once included a community tab with a suite of networking options. Gungho on securing rights to as broad a library of content as possible (even a casual perusal of the Instant Queue evinces their quantity over quality stratagem), the company is further marginalizing the intended inclusiveness of cinema.

At Cinecliq, we hope to offer the best of both worlds. Just like our users, we spend a lot of time on Facebook; that’s why we set up shop there. By integrating our service into the world’s leading social network, we provide them with a place to watch fullscreen HD movies together, and encourage them to engage with friends — watch, comment, like, and share picks, ratings, etc. And because we’re available wherever Facebook is, there’s always more room on the couch.

Plus, unlike at the local multiplex, on Cinecliq you can chat to your heart’s content. The purists can join the conversation after the credits roll. Just imagine it: the lights are down; the score swells. It’s just you and your friends — all 900 million of them.