Omaha-based AIM Hatchfund, a public charity and grant-making organization for artists, has partnered with video streaming service CHOPSO to promote the creation and distribution of English-language Asian video content.
CHOPSO, a new streaming destination for worldwide English-language Asian content, launches November 2.
“AIM Hatchfund hosts an online community where artists can post projects for funding and connect with those who love and support artists,” said Hatchfund Program Director, Dillon Nicholson.” Our goal is to help artists successfully navigate the challenging world of online fundraising through our unique, educational and hands-on approach. Donations support originality, imagination, and discovery at the moment of their creation.”
The partnership with Hatchfund creates a funding source for artists to raise money for their Asian-English video projects. Hatchfund acts as a fiscal sponsor and crowdfunding platform that makes finding donors easier, without charging filmmakers fees.
“All donations to Hatchfund are tax-deductible because they simultaneously support artist’s projects and the non-profit mission of Hatchfund, [which is] to invest in America’s finest artists and to illuminate the value of artists to society,” said Nicholson.
The launch of CHOPSO marks the first time a platform has been created that specifically focuses on providing access to Asian-English content including documentaries, features, short and long-form content, as well as webisodes podcasts and music videos.
“One of the biggest challenges for Asian-English content around the world is that traditional distribution has not really covered that market,” said CHOPSO’s CEO, Koji Sakai. “CHOPSO is hoping to create a marketplace for that content and to be able to show it around the world.”
Asian-English content has been regularly created since the 1960s and 70s but struggles to find distribution. CHOPSO’s Chief Creative Officer Quentin Lee said that everyone from independent artists to historical societies has been producing films that have largely gone unseen. Through the partnership with Hatchfund, CHOPSO is hoping to bring these works, both old and new, into the market.
“As a filmmaker myself that has actually made six or seven Asian-American features, occasionally I do get them distributed in the mainstream marketplace, but still the distribution is very small,” said Lee. “By having this platform hopefully we can shed light on these works that have not been distributed or have been distributed very limitedly. Our partnership with Hatchfund is really to encourage more Asian-American filmmakers to create works with crowdfunding, then they can be shown on our platform, or elsewhere.”
Lee said that CHOPSO utilizes Vimeo’s video-sharing technology on the backend to create a film distribution platform for their viewers.
“If you look at traditional film distribution, as a distributer you would buy or produce a film and then you would have to put it through [a variety of distribution channels] in order to reach your end user and your consumer,” said Lee. “With streaming, what’s great is that you’re directly reaching your consumers and cut out all the middlemen in between. I think that’s what is interesting about this streaming model.”
Sakai doesn’t understand the disconnect between a large international audience that wants and consumes Asian-English content and the refusal of traditional distributors to provide it.
“One of the things about Asian-Americans, in general, is that we have some of the highest levels of education, highest levels of lifetime earnings and spending, and we’re one of the groups that go to see movies more than any other group,” said Sakai. “At this point, Asian-American’s are not represented in film, by both the filmmakers and in the stories. We’re really hoping CHOPSO is that place that can bring those viewers content that reflects their lives, with people that look like them.”
Two of Hatchfund’s goals are to grow audiences and communities that support minority artists and their works and to connect artists, donors, and audiences through new technologies. Those goals directly align with CHOPSO’s.
“Becoming a partner with CHOPSO not only allows for projects to receive one-on-one educational, promotional and marketing support throughout their crowdfunding campaign but allows those projects a full-service experience and to be seen through a distribution channel,” said Hatchfund Program Director, Dillon Nicholson. “We are grateful we can support artist projects being made, and now with CHOPSO, we can make sure those projects are seen.”
Lee and Sakai know firsthand that Hatchfund’s processes work for filmmakers. They’ve both had projects successfully funded through the organization.
“What we see in Hatchfund is a one-stop-shop for filmmakers. Hatchfund serves as both the fiscal sponsor and the crowdfunding platform,” said Lee. “It’s a very filmmaker-friendly platform and we’ve had success funding our own projects. We thought it would be great for us as CHOPSO to bring our filmmakers to Hatchfund to launch their projects.”
The first project being launched through the partnership is Canadian filmmaker Barbara Lee’s film called, “Sing My Song.” Lee’s documentary follows the journey of songwriter Kayee Lee to find an Asian singer for her songs, but she ends up asking the question: Where are all the Asian Rockstars in North America?
Lee’s documentary echoes what CHOPSO and Hatchfund have been asking. Where are all the Asian-American and Asian-English films? The answer is that they exist, they just haven’t been given the platforms they need until now.
“CHOPSO is very much an artist-run company and [both Lee and I] know that there’s a need for this so we’ve been putting our time and effort into not only our projects but helping everybody else as well,” said Sakai. “As the parent of a six-year-old, it’s really important to me that we create content with people that look like him and that there’s a place where he can see content with people who look like him.”
Visit CHOPSO.com to start a 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are $4.95/month or $49.95/year. Customers can stream CHOPSO’s library anytime via CHOPSO’s app available on iOS and Android.
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Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.