Purplay’s CEO CHO Il-ji & Programmer SHIM Bo-young
Feb 06, 2018
- Writerby KIM Su-bin
“We dream of becoming a Netflix for female films”
Purplay was founded last year in October. With the catchphrase “Keeping women’s films close,” they’re a streaming service that focuses on servicing women’s films. Films about women, films made by women, and films that challenge gender dichotomy are their expertise. Every month, they play women’s films through Purplay, screenings that are programmed by themes. Purplay came up with its name by adding the word “play” to purple, a color that represents feminism. Purplay’s goal is to have audiences enjoy and play with women’s films.
How did you come up with Purplay as a streaming service?
CHO Il-ji: When I went to film festivals or tried to watch films through IPTV, it was hard to find the films that I wanted to watch unless I went to a specific screening at a specific time. I always wondered if there might be an easier way to watch them, and I decided to act on it. That is how I gathered my teammates who had the same beliefs as I did. When we were selected as one of the businesses to get support from the Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency in 2017, things really started rolling.
SHIM Bo-young: I think the demand from the audience was the biggest reason. There are so many women’s film festivals around the country, but it’s impossible to go to them all. I wanted there to be an outlet where we could watch these films even after the festivals finished.
Why did you choose to use a streaming service?
SHIM Bo-young: I thought it would be great if I could watch films I liked on my way to and from work. That’s how we started the streaming service. If I may connect it to gender equality in the film industry (in regards to feminist films), I wanted to create a consumer group. If we could prove that this many people are interested in women’s films, then more could be produced. Feminism is becoming popular, and some are saying that it will make money. Related books and goods have been selling very well. I don’t mean our goal is to earn money through feminism, but the value of it is being recognized. Those that buy feminist texts and goods are bound to be interested in feminist films, which in turn, would help us see that there is a demand for it.
Currently, the service is pay-per-view. Do you intend on keeping the system this way?
CHO Il-ji: When people watch short films online, it’s rare they pay per film. However, we felt that the audience must watch the shorts to lead up to the directors’ other projects, so we decided to go with this process. We thought the audience should experience different ways to watch films. We have been considering monthly prescriptions, but I don’t think we will go fully prescription-based even when the service gets more popular. We’d likely provide both prescription service as well as pay-per-view.
Purplay’s crowdfunding page bypassed its goal and reached 224%.
CHO Il-ji: We’re so thankful. When we first posted it, we had doubts about who would support our business. However, I felt more responsible after finding out that strangers were interested in us too.
SHIM Bo-young: When we first started in the summer, a lot of people sent emails to cheer us on. Some people wanted to participate and volunteer as designers or developers. Some directors also gave us support.
Mini Cinema, Cinehub, yoUeFO, and Indieplug are short film streaming services that opened before you did. How would you differentiate Purplay from them?
CHO Il-ji: Our online work is important, but we also find offline events, such as screenings with directors in attendance, very important. In addition, for gender equality in the film industry, we will hold campaigns that deal with the issues of that time.
SHIM Bo-young: The biggest difference is our tags. Purplay has tags for each film, so you can search by theme such as labor, feminism, or sexual abuse.
How would you define a women’s film?
CHO Il-ji: A film directed by a woman, a film starring a major female character, and films that challenge gender dichotomy. This is the criteria we follow.
SHIM Bo-young: Even if the film does not focus on a female issue, we define a film made by a female director as a women’s film. This is because a female director has a harder time getting investment and support. Unless it ignores gender equality, we also identify a film with a female protagonist as a women’s film. As for films that tear down gender dichotomy, we mean that it’s a film that questions what should be seen as a woman. It questions what it is to be feminine or masculine, and breaks such stereotypes.
Do you have any plans to create original work and to expand your business to film production?
SHIM Bo-young: Yes. We’re starting off as a distributor, but in order to be a powerful distributor, we must also produce work. I want us to develop into a production company that can support films that align with our beliefs. As for distribution, we’re only starting off.
What is Purplay’s ultimate goal?
CHO Il-ji: I want to make a theater where you can watch women’s films. It’s something I have always had in the back of my mind. Also, I want to break people’s stereotype on women’s films. People think women’s films are boring or that they’re all indie films. I’m trying to find diverse ways in how people could be exposed to women’s films.
SHIM Bo-young: If the time comes when we no longer have to separate a women’s film from other films, I believe that would be a society where gender equality has been accomplished in all aspects. I hope Purplay could play a part in making that happen. Currently, the younger generation is the key consumer group that’s interested in feminism. I deeply want people who are outside of our target group to watch our films too so that they can also think more about feminism. I want people to enjoy the films we screen, but at the same time, have it develop into conversations. A goal we could achieve in the recent future is to guarantee profit to those who supplied their films to us.