Why Fandor?


CEO Dan Aronson reflects on the experiences and influences that led to the creation of Fandor

Ok, here’s a confession: I’m a tech geek. That’s obvious to people who know me. However, they are on occasion surprised when they learn what I’ve dedicated myself to for the past several years. Given my background in technology and software development, founding a service specializing in independent and foreign film might seem like quite a departure. Not so. Perhaps a brief timeline of my professional life leading up to the founding of Fandor will finally clear things up.

1990 – I spent 13 months travelling around the world. I remember a long bus ride in China where I thought about how the world would be a better place if more people would travel and sketched out a scheme for a funding mechanism to help people finance a year of traveling before they went to college.

1994 – During the early days of the internet, I worked to develop some of the initial web services that made use of the first search engines. It was satisfying to help to create something that allowed people to discover and find information.

1996 – Cofounded the first anti-spam company, bringing together the power of experts to recognize and reduce spam.

2000 – Married my lovely wife, who happened to be a co-owner of an indie repertory movie theater in San Francisco. (See – it’s all starting to come together and make sense!)

2005 – Invested in Slim Devices, one of the first network streaming music players. Got my feet wet in the digital streaming space.

2009 – Discovered the joys of set-top movie streaming with my trusty Roku, enjoying countless films nights with my family. Recognized that a majority of independent and foreign films were still not available online, despite a strong demand for quality, thought-provoking content.

2011 – Alongside co-founders Albert Reinhardt and Jonathan Marlow, launched Fandor at South by Southwest in 2011 as a way to provide movie lovers and appreciators of entertaining, thought provoking stories with better access to cinema from all over the world. Was honored to have the opportunity to meet one of my all time heroes, the great Roger Ebert.

So, what do all these things have in common?

My personal and professional life has followed a meandering path but has touched on several reoccurring themes: exploration, intellectual stimulation, networking and making things easier for people. Movies have the incredible power to expand people’s minds and show them new possibilities, in addition to providing quality entertainment. We’re living in a time where we now have the technology to make it easier for audiences to watch movies from the past and present, anytime, anywhere. So why not leverage this technology to connect audiences with thought-provoking films from around the world?

In bridging the gap between filmmaker and viewer, Fandor is addressing two major problems in the film distribution space:

1) Many filmmakers of great movies are unable to make a living from their work, or at the very least be properly compensated.

2) Movie lovers and people who appreciate great story telling have had no way of accessing many of the great films produced each year.

Simply stated, our vision as a company is to solve both of these problems. We’re still in the early stages, but we’re fortunate to have made big strides in a short amount of time. We’re very happy to report that we have been paying filmmakers for two years (with ever increasing payments) for the rights to stream their films, all the while developing new tools that help people watch, discover and share their favorite movies. Our constantly expanding library comprised of a diverse collection of new and classic movies is a testament to the trust and confidence that filmmaker and distributors have in the direction we’re heading.

It’s been fascinating to watch the growth and changes in this industry since we launched Fandor just over two years ago. But, most of all, it’s been incredibly satisfying to build something that is making such a difference in the independent film ecosystem. Our many partners in the film and technology sectors have been essential to making this happen, as have our growing membership who continues to support us and independent filmmakers. Their willingness to tell their friends about Fandor and share their film recommendations, either through word of mouth or social media, has been an integral, and gratifying, contributor to our continued growth.

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