SYNOPSIS | “Have you ever watched ‘The Hangover’? Well, don’t watch it alone”: Brandon Overton is a 31-year-old entrepreneur from Colorado and he is about to make the app of our dreams come true. It is called “Movie on Me”, it is a social network, an event scheduler, a movie app that brings people together over a movie, a TV show or a sport game at home. You find what shows people planned to watch in your area, and you go watch them with them, whether you know them or not. Binge-watching evenings are about to get much less lonely. Movie on Me is raising funds to come to life! Contribute and/or spread the word!
J • Wamal: Hello Brandon, tell us who you are!
BRANDON OVERTON: I am Brandon, I live in Austin with my wife, my 10-year-old boy and a baby on the way. I have a day job that I don’t want to do anymore, probably like most of us, and now I am studying programming and coding and with the baby coming in November, obviously I have so much time for myself…
J • Wamal: Obviously!
BRANDON OVERTON, laughing:… that I decided to launch my own start-up on top of that! But I am driven by passion: I have a great passion for films, I spend a lot of time talking about movies, I work with a lot of film makers around town and went to film school back in 2002.
J • Wamal: Impressive. Where did the idea of “Movie on Me” come from?
BRANDON OVERTON: I just noticed how much we talk about movies and TV with each other. “Hey, did you guys watch this?”, “You guys should totally watch that!” And then we go home and just watch it by ourselves, when we could have just sat down and watched it together. Have you ever watched ‘The Hangover’?
J • Wamal: Not yet.
BRANDON OVERTON: Well, don’t watch it alone. I never saw it in theaters but a co-worker of mine had it on DVD and told me: “This movie is so funny, it’s just a blast!”, they gave it to me and I went back home to watch it and I was bored out of my mind. I think that certain types of movies like comedies are much better when you watch them together. The laughing is something that is contagious, you’re supposed to laugh with other people, that’s the point. That’s basically why you have laugh tracks in sitcoms and why comedies are so great in theaters and not so great alone.
Which is one of the reasons I tried to do movie nights. I tried event schedulers, I used Facebook, Meetup, and they were just horrendous to use. They were so general, they weren’t really fit for film and I felt like they were lacking a lot of features that I thought would be really fun to have for film: you can’t just see whether other people are also having public events in your area and if you want other people to know about your events, you constantly have to keep shoving all your social network: “I’m doing this! I’m doing this!” And it is tedious! I think my frustration with all that and the desire to watch film and TV shows together was the beginning of Movie on Me.
J • Wamal: At the end of your pitch video, you say: “It is the app I wish I already had”. It reminds me of Toni Morrison who said: “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it”.
BRANDON OVERTON: It is the app I wish I already had. I don’t know how many people I talked to then said that the first thing they did after they watched the Red Wedding for “Game of Thrones” was pick up their phones and start texting people. And during the World Cup, people were asking each other where they would and could watch the game. It would have been so much easier with Movie on Me. It’s crazy that we have these text based event schedulers when Google has mapped everything. Even the moon. Yet, we keep on pushing text on our feeds when people could just find the events they want to see. Right there, on a map.
J • Wamal: It sounds like the Airbnb of movie nights! How does it work, actually? I hope it includes a rating system. Does it include a rating system?
BRANDON OVERTON: It does! Eeach member is rated by other attendees or hosts whether they were great to hang out with or not. If they were not good folks that you want to hang around, you are able to rate people and let other people know about that. You can watch with just friends or with people who share the same passion as you. It’s really going to be that easy. If you want just friends you create your event to include only Movie on Me friends, but as long as your event is public, anybody can see it on the map. They can decide if they want to go, but will have to request admission to be able to see where it is at. The host has to approve your admission and they do that based on your previous ratings, you have the opportunity to chat with each other to see if you get along, and once the event is created, there is a group chat that lives and dies with the event. Everybody attending the event is able to chat with each other, so everybody can get to know each other prior to the showing!
J • Wamal: Cool. Cool, cool, cool. I have some experience in the business of online dating, the many possibilities of the app Movie on Me make it even more bankable!
BRANDON OVERTON: You’re not the first one to tell me that! I actually had a guy yesterday who asked me if it was a movie dating site. I said: “Well, it’s an app that helps you meet people, and that is usually the step you do right before dating, so…”
J • Wamal: And why did you call it “Movie on Me”?
BRANDON OVERTON: Oh, I thought about obscure names like Hulu for example, where you don’t know exactly what it is or does, I also thought about names with “Flix” in it, like “Netflix” and “Flixter”. People suggested I should have a name that nobody knows what it means, so they’re really interested in after looking it up. It seemed really gimmicky. I just wanted to say what it is: you’re literally saying “Movie on Me”: ‘Come over, watch a movie! It’s in the same way you say: ‘Have a drink on me, dinner on me, now we have – movie on me!’ It is about people getting together, it is about people sharing their experiences.
J • Wamal: What are you watching now?
BRANDON OVERTON: Now I am way too busy to watch anything. Between my day job, certification, family, campaign, I haven’t been able to watch movies or TV since I started making Movie on Me. Which is kind of ironic.
J • Wamal: What is your favorite movie then?
BRANDON OVERTON: What’s my favorite movie?
J • Wamal: Yeah.
BRANDON OVERTON: Eh… That’s always a tough question, favorite movies…
J • Wamal: Don’t answer it. I don’t know why I asked that, I can– I cannot answer this question either.
BRANDON OVERTON, laughs: I love Fight Club, I love Momento, hum… David Fincher, fantastic director; Christopher Nolan, I love all his stuff. I think the best movie I have seen in the last five years is called “The Infinite Man” and that was just fantastic. It was part of the inspiration behind Movie on Me, knowing it’s an independent movie and it might not get to theaters. Everybody should watch it. Which again, Movie on Me is just the app I wish I had and an independent movie like ‘Infinite Man’ is something I want to share and watch with other people. But, let’s say I feel like watching an action movie from the nineteen-eighties this weekend or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before going to see the revamp in theaters, I just open my map, filter for that and just select and go. There are just great movies that need to be watched, even TV shows, Heck I think I watched the first season of Breaking Bad two or three times because I would ask people to come over and then sucker them into watching it. I’d get them on the first episode and then we would just ‘binge watch’ together to the end. But, the point is we had to be together, in the same room, watching together first.
J • Wamal: What is it that you like when you watch movies with people?
BRANDON OVERTON: Hum, depends on the occasion.
When I try to do eighties nights, I love heckling! We would just have a couple of beers and make fun of movies like Robocop, even though we loved them as kids! Relive childhood while pointing out how ridiculous it is 30 years later. What we love about watching movies together is why theaters still exist! Besides the big screens and the audio systems, it is the shared experience, sitting in a room with people and sharing something together! It is something that I still love and something that we lose as soon as movies leave the theaters. I want to make it easier to get that back considering how many great movies aren’t ‘Now Playing’.
J • Wamal: What have you learned so far, ever since you came up with the idea of Movie on Me? What surprised you on the way?
BRANDON OVERTON: I thought when I was coming up with the idea of Movie on Me that since people already use event schedulers and social networks, when I told them the same tools they use would be movie-centric, they would get it! Having things they already use and making it specific to one thing, I didn’t think it would be that hard for people to understand!
J • Wamal: Right…
BRANDON OVERTON: And I had to explain a lot to several people that you’re sitting down and you’re actually watching. It seems that the idea of sitting down together with other people is just so foreign that they can’t understand what I am actually saying! I had one lady who kept tellling me that I was going to get arrested for streaming movies and that it was illegal! I was like: “No, no, no! Has not— has nothing to do with streaming movies! You’re actually sitting with people! In a room!” She was like: “Oh so, like… I’m streaming my DVDs to my friends? That’s pretty– that still sounds illegal, that’s walking a fine line! Slippery slope!” I don’t know if it’s the way we’ve gotten in the US…
J • Wamal: Sad, huh? But don’t worry, the sharing economy is actually booming. People share their cars, their homes, their luxury handbags with total strangers they trust based on the rating other strangers gave them. Now, there is even a gadget that alerts people that you are willing to share your umbrella when it rains! This all reminds me of an article in WIRED: “How Airbnb finally got Americans to trust each other”. I believe in your project, no doubt about it! So what’s the next challenge?
BRANDON OVERTON: This whole campaign is actually quite a challenge. Enjoyable, but a challenge. The challenge is to raise funds on IndieGogo, to convince people that this is a viable idea that will bring more joy into their lives. I’ve even had people tell me they won’t blog about it, because it’s such a good idea they don’t want people to know about it until it’s patented. I can’t patent it until there is code on it, it’s the nature of the business. Which is why I trust people will get behind it and support it and be a part of making Movie on Me.
J • Wamal: Well, Brandon, as far as I’m concerned, I’m convinced.