Films have been a part of Louie Comella’s life since a young age, but he discovered that some of the most passionate projects were among the independents.
At a film festival in Houston, Texas, he saw people get excited about indie shorts and win awards, but often “those movies never went anywhere,” he said. . He also met a number of filmmakers who, although successful today, struggled to bring their early independent work to the public.
A few years ago, he decided to “create an entry point” and have a space where independent films, short films and other content could be seen by more than just festival goers. After a small hiatus due to COVID-19, Palm Springs-based streaming platform IVOX+ officially launched this week.
At $5.99 a month, subscribers can access thousands of titles, said executive producer and general manager Comella, with new ones added every week. Many are titles that people are unlikely to find on other streaming platforms.
“If you want indie film and indie content, past or present, you come to us,” said Comella, who started doing commercials for ad agencies. “Almost everything you see will be on our platform only, or in just a few places. We don’t see ourselves competing with ‘other guys’, we’re doing our own thing.”
Comella also recently purchased legendary Coachella Valley radio stations “Relaxing Music” KWXY and “Real Talk” KGX and two properties historically associated with them – their Cathedral City headquarters and 28-acre desert land that hosts the broadcast of KGX – last year. The stations, renamed KWXY “Music Radio” and KKGX “Alternative Talk Radio”, launched this year.
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The latest films from Marvel Studios or Warner Bros. won’t be on IVOX+, but beer lovers can watch the documentary “BEER! A Love Story” to learn what makes a great drink and how to survive as a small independent brewery. There’s also sports content as well as classic movies and series that were considered “indie productions at the time,” Comella said. “The Lucy Show,” produced by and starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, is one such title.
Launching the streaming platform in Palm Springs made sense for Comella, he said, because of the area’s rich cinematic history, home to two film festivals and its proximity. with Los Angeles. Some of the content on IVOX+ even has local connections.
There will be an original series about popular bar and event venue Oscar’s Palm Springs that will focus on acts that have come to a halt over the years, such as Priscilla Presley, and the fundraising effort for the star of Dionne Warwick on The Walk of Stars Palm Springs. Another will be on the drag scene in the LGBTQ+ community.
Other originals will tackle up-and-coming comedians, the art of crafting finely distilled spirits and liquors, a show that explores restaurants around the world, and a limited series of films about Chinatowns around the world, like those from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Original content doesn’t “seek to counter anything out there,” Comella said, but rather “talks about the other side of what isn’t there, the independent side of things.”
In order to find the right content for the app, Comella and her team traveled to film festivals across the country and around the world, including the Palm Springs International ShortFest and Film Festival, to meet filmmakers.
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Gracie Henley, cinematographer and director, started making independent films. While there’s a lot of love and creativity that goes into these projects, Henley said “our voices as independents are watered down by bureaucracy.”
When she connected with Comella and showed him her short film, she said he “gave me my 15 minutes,” and that’s the goal of the new streaming service.
“We’re trying to create an avenue for people in the indie world who have really good, high-quality productions that can be as short as eight minutes long,” she added. “We’re trying to give them an easy way to tell someone about their movie so they can get other people to watch it because that’s really what they want.”
The IVOX+ application is available for download on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, and on Google Play for Android phones and tablets. It is also accessible on Roku devices, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Samsung TVs, Smart TVs, and other digital platforms.
Earlier reporting by James Cutchin of The Desert Sun was used in this report.
Ema Sasic covers entertainment and health in the Coachella Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ema_sasic.