Talent Talk: ‘Titanic 666’ Actress Giovannie Espiritu Discusses Working on the Tubi Original

Filmmaker-actress Giovannie Espiritu has worked on both sides of the camera.

Her first short film, Ultra-Feminist, got an Honorable Mention at Outfest: Fusion, and her second film, ALLY 3000, won over 12 awards at film festivals in scriptwriting, social justice and women in film. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors and the Producers Guild of America.

As an actress, her television credits include “ER,” “Bones,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Trauma,” “Perfect Harmony” and “Young Sheldon.” She can currently be seen as the lead in the Amazon series “Dyke Central.” She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at Method Fest for the feature film Fiona’s Script. Other feature film work includes supporting roles in the thriller D-Railed with Lance Henriksen and Middleton Christmas with Eileen Davidson and Michael Pare.

Recently, she was recognized as one of 23 “Most Influential Filipina Women in the World” in the Innovator & Thought Leader category by the Filipina Women’s Network and given a “Special Thanks” credit at the end of Pixar’s Turning Red for being the on-call acting coach for Rosalie Chiang.

Espiritu can now be seen on Fox Entertainment’s free ad-supported streaming service Tubi in the the service’s original film Titanic 666, which started streaming April 15. She plays Nancy, an overzealous fan to Mia, a social media influencer played by Annalynne McCord.

In Titanic 666, 110 years after its namesake’s deadly journey, the Titanic III is fated to repeat one of history’s greatest disasters. A faithful replica of the original, the mammoth cruise ship is safeguarded with the most advanced technology to assure clear passage on its maiden voyage for the famous influencers, historical enthusiasts and other excited travelers on board. But unbeknownst to all, there is a stowaway amongst them with vengeful intentions to channel dark forces still at sea. As the ship halts over the surface of the original gravesite, crew and passengers are terrorized by ghosts. 

We asked Espiritu about her experience starring in the Tubi original.

MPN: How did you first get involved in and what attracted you to the project?

Espiritu: I auditioned for Titanic 666, back when it was still called Dead Water. As a working (not name) actor, I generally audition for everything and anything my team sends me. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what project is until you book it. 

MPN: You’ve done lots of work for traditional television outlets and studios. What was different/similar about participating in a project that would appear on a free streaming service such as Tubi? Had you watched the service before?

Espiritu: I actually didn’t know about Tubi until working on this. It’s great that there are so many outlets now for filmmakers and storytellers to showcase their work. I feel like, with the advent of streaming networks, more diverse stories and points of view can be told. We need more of that in the world today. I think that acting and storytelling can help the world become a more empathetic place.

AnnaLynne McCord (left) and Giovannie Espiritu in Titanic 666. (Photo courtesy of Tubi © 2022)

MPN: Can you describe your on-set experience? Are there any fun stories?

Espiritu: I loved working on this. First of all, the location in Long Beach was beautiful. The Queen Mary is such a majestic ship and imbued with so much history, I felt like it was like a fairytale in a way … well, a haunted fairy tale, because it is haunted in real life. I had an orb show up in my behind-the-scenes pictures and I ended up getting freaked out, so I asked production if I could stay in my car or hang out with the background talent instead of being alone in my room. 

MPN: Can you describe the character you play? What did you identify with most about your character?

Espiritu: With Nancy, I have an affinity for the loner, losers and outcasts, because I definitely feel like one a lot in my life. Her breakdown was: “She has no life or friends and is a super fan of the influencers.” It was easy for me to do because I tend to put people on a pedestal in my real life and I’m an introvert by nature. 

MPN: What was your favorite scene?

Espiritu: I loved running around like a crazy person in the ballroom when the ship crashes into the iceberg, but my favorite scene to film was when Mia (Annalynne McCord), Jackson (Derek Yates) and I find Idina (Lydia Hearst) doing her seance because we actually got to go down into the boiler room.

MPN: How would you describe Titanic 666 to viewers? What kind of fans will like it?

Espiritu: If you love campy movies like Sharknado, I think you’ll enjoy it. It is a silly, fun, titillating ride. It knows what kind of movie it wants to be. 

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MPN: In addition to being a performer, you are also active politically. How does your political activism inform and affect your career choices?

Espiritu: My identity is already political. I used to be an undocumented dreamer born to a teenage mom. I spent time in a Biblical Doomsday cult as a teen. I became a young mom myself and had to learn how to navigate the world as a single parent trying to make ends meet on gig work. Most of my storytelling comes from that worldview where I try to heal generational trauma, and dismantle the patriarchy mainly because I’m trying to figure out and heal myself through art. 

MPN: What’s next for you?

Espiritu: I’m traveling to Indonesia this week to do some scouting and research for a feature film that I’ve been commissioned to write. Hopefully, I’ll direct it. I also have a few shorts in development and I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a personal documentary since my upbringing is so unusual. And I’ll be performing in a benefit production of The Vagina Monologues at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco at the end of May. V, formerly known as Eve Ensler, who wrote the play, will also be there, so I’m super excited. I admire her so much. Her work has sparked movements of education for women globally.

Distribution Solutions Putting Content on Pluto TV

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has announced a new partnership with Pluto TV to distribute its content through the free streaming TV service across the United States.

Content from Distribution Solutions will begin appearing on Pluto TV channels starting in fall 2021.

“We are excited to partner with Pluto TV,” Ben Means, president of Distribution Solutions, said in a statement. “Through this partnership, premium independent content from our label partners will be available to their impressive audience of 52 million monthly active users.”

More than 450 hours of content from Distribution Solutions’ label partners will be available for streaming on Pluto TV, curated to plug into the Pluto TV channels.

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Notable titles coming to Pluto TV include family favorites such as The Cat in the Hat and Benji; cult classics such as Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), the Andy Sidaris films and “Gumby”; true crime content such as the “Becoming Evil” docuseries; and recent indie horror hits such as Hostile and Open 24 Hours.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alliance Entertainment and its expansive collection of top-quality content to the world of Pluto TV,” Will Gurman, VP of global content partnerships for Pluto TV, said in a statement. “With this partnership, we look forward to bringing our viewers an even wider array of genres and programming to lean back and enjoy, ranging from reality to history, kids content, and more — all for free.”

Redbox Adds Oscilloscope Content to AVOD Service

Redbox has partnered with film production and distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories to bring hundreds of hours of content to its ad-supported VOD streaming service.

Films that will be offered include We Need to Talk About KevinThe Messenger and Howl. They can be viewed for free via the Redbox app via Roku, Vizio, Samsung, Apple TV, Android TV, LG, Xbox, iOS, Android and Web.

Many of Oscilloscope’s films have won or have been nominated for Academy and Golden Globe Awards.

In We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), Kevin’s mother (Tilda Swinton) struggles to love her strange child (Jasper Newell), despite the increasingly dangerous things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined. Directed by Lynne Ramsay, We Need to Talk About Kevin also stars John C. Reilly.

The Messenger

Academy and Golden Globe Award nominated The Messenger (2009) stars Woody Harrelson as an American soldier who struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a fallen officer’s widow. Directed by Oren Moverman, The Messenger also stars Ben Foster, Samantha Morton and Jena Malone.

Howl (2010), starring James Franco, explores the 1957 obscenity trial of the 20th-century American poet Allen Ginsberg’s noted poem of the same name. Written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the film also stars Aaron Tveit, Jon Hamm and David Strathairn. Additional titles include the  documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, the sci-fi psychological thriller Coherence and the drama Wendy and Lucy.

“Oscilloscope has created some of the most innovative content in Hollywood,” Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to bring hundreds of hours of their movies to our Redbox customers completely free.”

Redbox Inks Streaming Deal With Game Show Network

Redbox has signed a content agreement with Game Show Network to bring its game shows and movie channels to Redbox’s free live TV streaming service.

Redbox viewers will be able to stream classic movies from the ’70s and ’80s, Westerns and game show action from classic shows to brand-new series. The channels can be accessed through Redbox’s streaming app, which is available on a variety of devices, including Roku, Vizio, Samsung, iOS, and Android.

Game Show Central features new game shows, including “Idiotest,” “Catch 21,” “Baggage” and “America Says.” Cinevault 80s will have movies titles such as Murphy’s Romance starring Sally Field. Cinevault 70s offers films such as The Deep starring Jacqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte. Cinevault Westerns features such films as Mackenna’s Gold starring Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif and Telly Savalas, and They Came to Codura starring Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth.

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“Both the Cinevault and Game Show Central channels have fantastic content, which we know will be popular with our viewers, and we’re thrilled we can partner with Game Show Network to bring them to the Free Live TV Service,” said Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand. “These four entertainment channels will bring hours of fun for the whole family.”

Pluto TV Adds Julia Child, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ Channels

AVOD service Pluto TV has added a Julia Child channel and a channel of the classic Western “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

Pluto TV is owned by ViacomCBS.

The Julia Child channel, located on channel 519, features more than 165 hours of 24/7 content from the legendary chef’s cooking shows. The channel includes episodes of “The French Chef,” “Baking With Julia” and “Julia Child: Cooking With Master Chefs.”

The 24/7 “Wanted: Dead or Alive” channel features the full run of the groundbreaking Western starring Steve McQueen as bounty hunter Josh Randall.

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Documentary+ Streaming Platform to Share Viewing Data With Filmmakers

Free nonfiction streaming platform Documentary+ announced it will share comprehensive viewing data with filmmakers.

Filmmakers on Documentary+ will be able to request personalized reports about the performance and viewing data of their films on the platform including insights such as top cities, age group, platform, gender identity and related films being streamed on Documentary+.

“As the first major platform to do this, Documentary+ is spearheading a new era in which filmmakers and distribution platforms can coalesce to work together more as partners,” read a press release from the service. “At a time when the majority of streaming services still withhold viewership data or share it sparingly, Documentary+’s commitment to creative transparency is revolutionary and intended to empower filmmakers. This breakdown of information will help creatives better understand their audiences, which content formats are most impactful in driving reach and glean insight into their long term roadmaps for future productions.”

“Doc+ is shifting the power dynamics of film ‘ownership’ and we as makers of films are the ones who benefit,” Turner Ross, co-director of Documentary+’s top-performing film Western, said in a statement. “It’s a simple parting of the curtain that shouldn’t be revolutionary: They give a platform to our work, that platform garners an audience, we learn who our audience is. It’s a simple democratic notion of transparency. What a novel idea.”

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“Corporate streaming platforms use the data from films to influence their content strategies — but they keep it away from the filmmakers,” two-time Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning Bryn Mooser, Documentary+ and XTR CEO, said in a statement. “We believe filmmakers should have that same access and let them do what they want with it — hopefully even use it to influence what they think about their future art. We are the first platform to share data with filmmakers, I hope it creates a trend for the rest to follow.”

Documentary+ launched earlier this year to serve as a home for documentary films and series. A joint venture between nonfiction studio XTR and the late Tony Hsieh, the streaming service is available globally for free on all streaming platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Roku, mobile devices and www.docplus.com.

XTR has six films featured at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, including Ailey, Ascension, Like a Rolling Stone, Tigre Gente, Wake Up on Mars and Miracle Fishing.

Allied Vaughn Inks Digital Distribution Deal With Redbox

Allied Vaughn Entertainment, a manufacture-on-demand company and digital content aggregator, May 7 announced an agreement with Redbox to deliver movies and TV series from their content providers to Redbox’s Free Live TV and Free On Demand services.

“With nearly 100 linear channels and thousands of hours of movies and TV, the deal with Redbox marks an important milestone to bring our content providers titles to an innovative and growing streaming service from one of the most powerful brands in home entertainment,” according to Allied Vaughn.

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Allied Vaughn as a digital rights aggregator also delivers content to Amazon, TubiTV, Overdrive, Cinedigm’s OTT channels, Crackle and roughly 25 Roku channels.

PBS Kids Channel Available on Samsung TV Plus

The PBS Kids channel has been added to Samsung TV Plus and is available for free on tens of millions of Samsung smart TVs across the country.

It joins eight other free kids’ channels on Samsung TV Plus.

PBS Kids includes such shows as “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Wild Kratts” and “Odd Squad.”

Other family friendly channels on Samsung TV Plus include The Lego Channel, Moonbug Kids and KiDoodle.TV. The Samsung TV Plus platform includes more than 160 free channels of movies, news, sports and more.

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Survey: One-Third of Consumers Signed Up for a New TV Service Since Summer

From July to November, one-third of consumers in Hub’s “Predicting the Pandemic” research survey had signed up for a new TV service, up six points from the summer.

The second, just-released wave of the study shows how the pandemic has accelerated the already well-established shift to online consumption of entertainment content.

During that same period, one in four canceled a TV service, up five points. All told, 40% had made at least some change to their TV subscriptions by November, nine points higher than in the summer.

The top four streaming services saw the strongest net increases among those who either added or dropped. Netflix and Disney+ were the most likely to see a net gain in November with half of those who made changes to their TV services adding Netflix and one-third adding Disney+. Meanwhile, only single-digit percentages dropped each of these services.

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On the other hand, consumers were much more likely to drop a live TV service than to add one. Half of those who made TV service changes dropped a live TV streaming service (such as YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV). One-third dropped a traditional cable, satellite or telco TV subscription. Fewer than one in five added either type of service.

Use of free, ad-supported TV platforms (AVODs) continued to accelerate, including the newly launched, free version of Peacock. AVOD use continued the upward trend seen in the summer with the percent using each major service up since July (and use in July was higher than February, before the start of the crisis). Peacock, released to the general public in mid-July, has quickly become the third-most watched AVOD service, behind the Roku Channel and Tubi.

With many films skipping theatrical release due to COVID, consumer purchase of first-run movies from streaming platforms has jumped significantly. One-fourth of all TV consumers in November said they’d purchased a first-run movie from a streamer, up from fewer than one in five over the summer.

Among those who currently owned a Smart TV, 26% said they purchased their Smart TV during the pandemic — up a full 12 points from July.

“If there were any doubts that some of the changes we’re seeing in leisure habits are here to stay, those doubts were erased when Warner Bros. announced that its entire slate of 2021 films would be released on HBO Max at the same time as theaters,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, in a statement. “And with providers like Comcast deciding to impose data caps across its entire footprint as of Jan. 1, it’s clear that many companies agree that streaming content is now the new normal.”

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The hub study surveyed 3,000 U.S. consumers, age 14-74, who watched at least 1 hour of TV per week. The data were collected in October and November 2020.

Interest in Digital Home Entertainment Spread in Pandemic, DEG Speakers Say

Staying at home during the pandemic increased digital home entertainment interest across the board — for free VOD, SVOD and TVOD — according to speakers at a virtual DEG Expo May 21.

“We’re seeing in this moment really strong momentum for content consumption, discovery, engagement across our whole ecosystem,” said Google’s Jonathan Zepp. “That’s especially true in our user-facing, consumer businesses. For example, since stay-at-home has been in place, our home entertainment transactional business has seen tremendous growth in consumption, and it’s driven not only by new-release, home-premiere titles, but also catalog titles that have been wonderful and enjoyed by families together.”

Consumers were also searching for older shows. As consumers began to shelter in place, search queries for “The Sopranos” grew 67%, “Game of Thrones” 36% and “Mad Men” 31%, noted Google’s David Wang.

“If you take even some of these older titles that are evergreen, we’re seeing significant increases in search volume for these titles over the past several months, and they all roughly correlate with the timing of stay-at-home orders,” he said.

Consumers also increased searches for “Marvel movies in order” and — perhaps coming as no surprise — “virus movies.”

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“Right around the time that the pandemic was declared, we saw a huge spike in the number of queries for virus movies, and thankfully that’s tapered off a little bit, and people are looking for a little bit lighter fare,” he said.

“Tiger King,” Netflix’s much talked about documentary about eccentric big cat collectors, also got a search boost.

Consumers were also looking for content broadly, with searches such as “what to watch on Netflix” up 114%, “best TV shows” up 62% and “action movies” up 58% as stay-at-home orders took effect.

“Eventually you run out of things that you know you want to watch, and you need to discover new content, so we see increases in broad inquires,” Wang said.

Consumers were also looking for specific content providers, with searches for “Disney+ movies” up 135%, “Netflix movies” up 86% and “Hulu movies” also up 86%.

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“Oftentimes, you want to maximize the value of an existing subscription that you have, and you want to find out what’s new or what’s hot on one of those services or maybe you’re trying to understand whether you want to subscribe to a new service,” Wang noted.

Searches for free content also grew, with “free TV websites” up 179% and “free movies” up 60%.

“What we’ve observed is that a lot of free content has been made available over the past couple of months, generally brought about by COVID and stay-at-home orders,” he said, adding, “I do think that the business model is changing slightly in terms of free content. We see more advertising video-on-demand players, so we see a definite shift in increasing query volume for that. I think we’ve established a new baseline.”

As some areas opened, such COVID-spawned entertainment search activity decreased, he said, pointing to South Korea, where the infection curve flattened early, as an example.

Still, he thinks there has been a permanent shift in viewing habits.

“Even as we start going out a little bit more, I think the general consumption of streaming over something more linear is probably here to stay,” Wang said.