Indie film Pulp can be streamed on Xbox Live from today onwards. It's the first film to debut on the service, and may well turn out to be a landmark event as Microsoft move into the film and entertainment space. As such we tracked down Phil Bland, the film's producer, to discuss the movie and to find out what it's been like working with Microsoft on this pioneering project.
So tell us a bit about the film.
Pulp is a laugh-out-loud comedy set in a world where comic book publishing and international crime collide. It follows the hilarious adventures of Tony Leary, a small-time comic publisher, and his two geek sidekicks as they get caught up in a huge money laundering investigation.
It must be quite a buzz to be the first movie to be premiered on a games console?
Everyone involved with Pulp is incredibly excited about the Xbox release. Everything about making Pulp has been innovative and premiering on Xbox really has the potential to be a major breakthrough in how films are distributed in the future.
How do you feel about the opportunity of working with such a massive company? How has it been working with Microsoft?
It's been fantastic working with such a forward thinking and creative team as Xbox. As soon as they saw the film they realised that it was a perfect match for their audience and the film itself taps directly into gaming culture.
Who approached who? How did this come about?
A lot of people talk about the threat digital media poses to filmmaking, but all we can see are massive opportunities and interesting ways to present quality content to audiences. It was really a case of a group of innovative filmmakers looking for the most powerful platform, and a forward thinking company like Microsoft who had the determination and support to back the film. We screened the film for the Xbox team and they immediately saw the potential for their audience.
How will it work? How do people watch the movie?
Pulp will be released exclusively through the Xbox platform on Monday 4th March and will feature on the main Movies landing page so it couldn't easier to find. Viewers can then choose to rent or buy Pulp through their Xbox account.
And where will it be available once the premiere is done and dusted?
Pulp will be available to watch on Xbox for the foreseeable future so viewers can continue to enjoy the film long after it has premiered. We will release the film on DVD in the future but for now we're really excited to see how audiences respond to it through Xbox.
How do you think premiering on Xbox Live will help you better connect you with your audience?
The beauty of the Xbox platform for movie fans is that within seconds of a film taking your fancy you can be watching it in glorious HD in the comfort of your own home with all your friends around you. And that is key for us as Pulp is one of those comedies where every line is quotable and every character is memorable - it is the perfect film to enjoy in a social situation with your mates. Even without the film being released we have people coming up to us and quoting lines from it! Watching Pulp is one of those communal experiences like Superbad or The Inbetweeners where it becomes part of your everyday language so being able to watch it in a relaxed situation for a small price is perfect.
And furthermore, who do you think your audience are?
Xbox users will immediately be able to relate to Pulp. It's packed with movie, gaming, and comedy references which everyone will know and love. The characters in Pulp aren't superheroes or presidents; they are everyday guys who probably hang out gaming together when they're not embroiled in outrageous international comic crime!
Why do you think Pulp, a British indie movie, was chosen to pioneer this new new frontier by MS?
I think MS saw that Pulp is the exact type of movie that gamers and Xbox users are into. A laugh-out-loud comedy in which all the lead characters are just like Xbox users themselves. It's the perfect movie to take to their audience - and we're proud that Pulp will be the first film to usher in a new dawn for movie watching experiences.
Featuring prominently on Xbox Live the way that you are will likely draw attention to the film that it otherwise mightn't have received. How do the cast and crew feel about the additional publicity generated by this move into the digital space?
We had a fantastic cast and the three leads (Jay Sutherland, Gavin Molloy, and Simon Burbage) are destined for stardom so they're really excited with the launch. Although, we did have one complaint from a cast member that their Gran wouldn't be able to see them in it because she doesn't have a games console! I like the idea that she will be going out to buy her first Xbox this weekend.
We've watched the trailer with the additional Star Wars scene - that says quite a lot about who you're aiming the film at, but would you say that Pulp will appeal to gamers in particular? Or do you think that consoles have become so mainstream now that the "Gamers" tag isn't really relevant anymore?
I think what Pulp taps into is the meteoric rise of ‘geek culture' which has gone from being a dirty word to the coolest ticket in town. Now everyone is a geek and if they're not, they want to be. And loving gaming, movies, & comics all play into that. The makers of Pulp are into all of these things and we would be proud to be tagged as gamers.
When you're not making movies, do you game at all? And if so, what's your tipple of choice?
I am an absolute fiend for football games. Obsessed would be an accurate description. We once had an entire world cup tournament with 32 mates that lasted for days. We all picked teams from a hat and I got the mighty powerhouse of international football - Costa Rica. That was a tough gig.
Ok, last but not least: why should people tune into watch Pulp?
If you want to watch a genuinely laugh-out-loud comedy which will leave you with a lifetime of awesome quotes and funny characters to talk to your mates about, Pulp is the film for you.
But the best thing is that gamers will be the first people to see it, so you can smugly tell everyone that you saw it waaaaaaaay before they did. Which as everyone knows, is the most important thing.
Pulp premieres today on Xbox Live. From here on in you can rent the movie (HD 530 MS Points and SD 420 MS Points) or purchase it (HD 1420 MS Points or SD 1180 MS Points).