To read a review of an OVID.tv film, either click a picture or a green link below in the alphabetical listing.
Editor’s Note—Regular readers of Picture This Post magazine know that you won’t find many totally negative reviews on our pages, and never a scathing one. Rather, Picture This Post keeps its focus on devoting our writers’ pen time to communicating about cultural finds and treasures for the time-strapped reader looking for tips. If a play, film, musical performance etc. is perceived as having appeal to a relatively narrow niche audience, we’ll say so--usually giving a ranking of SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED.
Historically, the film writers for Picture This Post have faced the biggest hurdles in finding films worthy of a positive recommendation. Whether it’s Hollywood blockbusters or winners of Indie film festival competitions, low quality clunkers – in our writers’ views—are abundant. That’s why the discovery of the OVID.tv collection seemed to transform the Picture This Post film pages nearly overnight. Our writers have yet to tune in an OVID.tv film that feels like an endurance test. Rather, OVID.tv time has proven the most reliable antidote to the pandemic’s innate cabin fevers, in this editor’s view.
How is this collection created and why does it stand apart from others? OVID.tv director Jonathan Miller describes the OVID sweet spot as “The best in independent documentary and feature films from around the world, accessible, but also adventurous in form and content.”
Here Picture This Post (PTP) talks with OVID.tv director Jonathan Miller (JM), founder of Icarus Films and now OVID.tv Director, about the origins and plans for OVID.tv.
(PTP) Please tell our readers how you go about choosing films to be included in the collection.
The films mostly come from distribution companies and producers that whose work I have known, been familiar with, for a long time, so I know the sort of films each company tends to take and something of their taste and interests. Then there is usually an exchange between them and me over a) putting their films on OVID, and b) selecting which of their films to add, and how to program or present them.
We have not yet started taking individual films (making individual decisions about them) from individual filmmakers/producers yet--we don’t have the resources so far. So, OVID is not usually rejecting or passing on films per se, I think that has happened only a few times when I felt a film was definitely outside our brand, so to speak.
For Icarus Films, I go to festivals and see individual films to consider for broader (not just Ovid) distribution. Some would be a good or great fit for Icarus Films, others not so much, but not because they aren’t good, but rather because they aren’t the types of films that Icarus Films generally works with.
And yes, I am somewhat selective of which films go onto Ovid, and when. It’s not a science. We work with people whose interests and taste I know and appreciate. The quality of our collection is mostly a result of longevity and the connections and knowledge we’ve acquired over the years.
What initially sparked your interest in film and documentaries?
My family was not particularly into films though we did go to the movies of course. I used to watch old movies on late night TV. I’ve been interested in filmmaking since high school, and I took my first classes in film history and making then.
At NYU film school in the 1970’s, my goal became making films about political issues, or more accurately as perhaps a political or cultural intervention. I don’t miss making films. It was hard, and there are plenty of people who are better at it than I ever was.
Most of what I know I have learned from watching films. I think I gave my daughter a pretty good education in old movies and TV shows, more than most kids her age growing up.
The Icarus Films collection is certainly defined by my tastes and interests, and yes, I am more open to different forms and approaches to filmmaking and less prescriptive in terms of their points of view, than I was back then. OVID is much broader than Icarus Films content wise, and less defined by my prejudices.
I hope we do some good.
How have the changes in the Indie film world and wider world over recent decades impacted OVID’s ability to amass high quality films?
Everyone and their grandmother now can make a film, (video), and thinks they are filmmakers. The means of production are ubiquitous.
That said, the lower cost of making a film has not eliminated class and other barriers to becoming a filmmaker. It remains very hard to be an independent filmmaker without money. They are, thus, few and far between. And perhaps that accounts for why there are so few films on topics like labor unions, working conditions or economic systems compared to so many more on high art and culture. Perhaps it’s also why many people who DO manage to make one or two independent films are seldom able to continue doing so as a career for very long.
Did adding fiction (non-documentary) feature films change your modus operandi for Ovid?
We have always wanted to be more than documentary films. We also have a selection of animated films for instance. And we’d like to grow both of those areas.
Whom do you picture as the best-match Ovid.tv subscriber?
It would be great if they are interested in both a wide range of documentary films and adventurous, global, independent feature films.
If a Picture This Post reader or writer had a recommendation of a film for OVID is that valuable to your efforts?
Maybe in a year it could be helpful but right now we don’t have the resources to go out and try and acquire individual films one at a time.
Editor’s note: Miller also reports that the number of OVID subscribers has gone up faster and the usage of their films has increased enormously during the pandemic. In the future, stay tuned to this OVID.tv roundup to see more reviews and reports that reflect OVID’s plans for growth: on-demand film festivals; collaboration with Dance Camera West; adding to their rich collection of visual arts films about media, television, painting and sculpture, photography; and films about museum and curatorship, artifacts, ethics in ethnography; among other topics.