Francesco Rulli discusses Film Annex's role in how online video distribution revenue provides internet classrooms in Afghanistan
Ramirez was at the Film Annex studio during the online advertising agency Altitude Digital’s visit to Ad:Tech 2012, an interactive advertising and technology conference and exhibition. In the video, Rulli says explains that Film Annex is an online film network that publishes professional film content from international, independent film makers and various organizations, including NATO, USAID and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The company interviews people from film makers to Nobel Prize winners, and shows short entertainment and educational films.
Rulli says that he had a clothing line partnership with the actor John Malkovich around 2001, when the actor wanted to be a fashion designer. For five years, Malkovich told Rulli that producing movies was a headache and doesn’t make money except for the distributers. From this conversation, Rulli realized that he wanted to start a film distribution company by using the internet. Film Annex was established in 2006 for professional content.
“If you have Hollywood up here and you have that YouTube content that is user-generated down here, we are right in the middle—professional, independent content. So ideally for us: young filmmakers, independent films that don’t get the wide distribution. They come to us and we show them to our 40 million [worldwide] unique viewers a month… We share with the content providers 50 percent of our advertising revenues, so that instead of getting the Facebook guy or the YouTube guy rich, they [the providers] can actually share the benefits.”
Film Annex also works with Afghanistan companies for peace-keeping operations. According to Rulli, NATO wanted Film Annex to distribute positive stories about countries with troubled environments like Afghanistan in order to help restore order. One of the stories Film Annex distributed was a feature about Roya Mahboob, a young Afghan woman who founded and is the CEO of Afghan Citadel Software Company, a full-service software development company based in Herat, Afghanistan, that installs internet classrooms on behalf of NATO and Afghanistan’s Defense Department.
“One of the things about working in the online film distribution and making money with advertising, it puts me on the same level as the guys of Mad Men. So you have these cheaters and alcoholics—they have all this clout about making money with advertising makes you a bad guy… So when I saw the opportunity to take my advertising profits and transform that into fuel for educational purpose in developing countries, I thought that it was a good idea to establish an online WebTV that generates revenues with the same ads that I get from companies like Altitude Digital Partners and promote this content out there, make money with ads, and use the revenue to build more internet classrooms. At the same time that we build internet classrooms, we teach students how to become good bloggers or filmmakers, so we get even more content from them. So it’s a very interesting self-financing process.”
Rulli says that the best way to create revenue online is with video advertising. Film Annex’s work in Afghanistan helps to empower children and women in developing countries and provide an opportunity for them to gain more education and more income.
Watch the full video below.