“But how will it play in rural Asia?”
This probably isn’t a phrase Hollywood studio executives are throwing about often. Yet it’s something the folks at Newton Circus, the Singapore-based social enterprise hub, are increasingly asking themselves. Newton Circus is developing a new venture called Mobile Movies, which arranges screenings in towns and villages off the beaten track in Myanmar and Indonesia. By bringing rural populations together and holding their attention, Newton Circus is able to gather data and pitch new products and practices on behalf of NGOs and companies.
Mobile Movies is still in the earliest stages—Newton Circus has only run a handful of prototype trips to rural villages, but has rapidly found them to be successful. Ultimately, here’s how Mobile Movies will work in a typical rural community: Newton Circus will lend one member of the community a movie-screening kit, which includes a Windows 8 smartphone and a mini-projector with speakers. Newton Circus will pay this local field agent roughly $7.75 per day, on average tripling that person’s wages. The field agent visits a different village in the area each day of the week to screen a movie. Advertisements and PSAs may be included with the movie screening, like previews. The field agent may also directly educate the villagers about products and best practices (hygiene, financial literacy), as well as offer product samples. The field agent also can collect data from the villagers (what are the demographics? are there schools or medical facilities?) on the smartphone, delivering this data to companies more quickly than traditional pen-and-paper methods.