Now & Next Podcast S3E6 – Making Movies Social Again

On this episode of Now & Next, host Leora Kornfeld speaks to Hilary Henegar and Fiona Rayher, two women who are making it possible again to watch a movie with other people and have a discussion afterwards, just like old times but... virtually. This new trend is proving to be both appealing to individuals and profitable to film producers.

Listen on:

Meet the entrepreneurs behind Hoovie

If we’re going to be spending so much time alone during Covid-19, we might as well do it together. And not on yet another Zoom meeting. Instead, how about taking the experience of watching a movie, add a group of like-minded individuals, and finish the evening off with some captivating conversation? And do it all at a safe distance online. 

That is essentially what Hilary Henegar and Fiona Rayher, the entrepreneurs behind the startup Hoovie are doing. The two friends began organizing in-person events in Vancouver a few years ago that were essentially ‘pop up’ movies. They called them Hoovies, a blending together of the words ‘home’ and ‘movies’. 

These events took place in living rooms, in backyards and in basements – anywhere where people could gather and share the experience of watching a documentary, art house movie or film festival award winner together. The evening was capped off with a post-film discussion, usually accompanied by some wine and cheese, and oftentimes the exchange of phone numbers. People were meeting new people and sharing new ideas at Hoovies. Then Covid-19 hit, and like many entrepreneurs, Hilary and Fiona had to adjust their model. “Since Covid, said Fiona, we’ve pivoted. We’ve really tried to bring the magic of what we used to do to the online world.”

On this episode of Now & Next we’ll hear from the two BC based entrepreneurs about what it’s been like shifting their model from people’s yards and homes to their laptops and tablets. As Hilary explains in the interview: “What we know is that there's this longing people have to interact during the film. As one of our users has said, you can actually feel the audience in the room. And that's been a real guiding light in how we build the technology.” 

And there’s good news for producers too. On top of adding a new social dimension to the viewing experience, Hoovie also provides a new way for filmmakers to reach audiences. Some filmmakers are already finding new audiences in this way while others are using the platform as an additional window, both with a revenue stream attached.

In this episode, learn more about:

  • Using cinema as a tool to build online communities (1:40);  
  • How food remains an integral part of a movie watching experience, even online (7:00)
  • Why independent films are uniquely suited to a social cinema model (10:30)
  • The new distribution window for filmmakers offered by Hoovie (14:35
  • The story behind how Bob Stein, the founder of the Criterion Collection, fell in love with the Hoovie model (21:53)

Download a transcript of the episode

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Special thanks to Now & Next’s production assistant Sabrina Brathwaite for interviewing Bob Stein, the founder of The Criterion Collection

About Now & Next

Now & Next is a podcast featuring in-depth interviews in which experts take a closer look at emerging trends and the digital transformation of the media and entertainment industries. Now & Next is brought to you by the Canada Media Fund, produced by Katie Jensen and recorded in Toronto at Vocal Fry Studios. Leora Kornfeld hosts the series.