Meet Anurag Singh Thakur, the young Union Minister ofInformation & Broadcastingand Youth Affairs & Sports who exuberates an air of confidence in the idea of new India, has expressed his vision for India’s media and entertainment industry on various platforms
A firm believer in India’s potential in original content creation as well as job creation in vernacular language production, even before taking charge as the Union Minister of I&B, Anurag Singh Thakur did not mince words when he stressed at FICCI Frames 2020 that Indian M&E sector should “build an ecosystem that nurtures talent and growth” by unlocking the “potential of original content creation, simultaneous job creation and investment in the vernacular language segment of the entertainment industry”.
46-year-old Anurag Singh Thakur took charge as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the aftermath of the mega cabinet reshuffle of the Narendra Modi government in July In addition to I&B, Anurag Singh Thakur has also been appointed as the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister. He previously served as the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs (31st May 2019 to 7th July 2021). He is a 4th term Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha/Lower House) from Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh.
According to him, original content creation presents immense opportunities for growth and could bridge the divide between Bollywood and Hollywood.
He also believes that India has the potential to create “creative incubators that identify and groom talent in graphic design, sound animation and visual effects,” and capture its fair share of global visual effects, animations, graphics and sound market.
Acknowledging transformation of the Indian animation sector, he said there’s still a lot of scope for improvement. He called for the media and entertainment industry to champion the cause of Atmanirbhar Bharat. “If we could tell stories that project new India and its products through our media, it will support our allied industries and sectors,” Anurag Singh Thakur said.
“It is a known fact that our media drives consumer choices and consumerism. Can we project our soft power such as Yoga, Ayurveda, ancient medicine, science, performing arts, crafts, textiles, and so on through our M&E platforms? I think there is a huge potential to showcase India’s soft power. I think this is an opportunity for all of us,” he added.
On the opportunities arising for creating employment and growth in the digital media sector, he said, “If we look at the last three years, we have seen a sea change as far as the digital media is concerned. With the use of technology, we have increased our reach in remote areas also. Even elderly people are not hesitant in using various digital platforms. This has provided a lot of opportunity.”
Anurag Singh Thakur is an avid sports lover and has contributed immensely to sports in the capacity of a sports administrator. He has served as the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), President Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), President Himachal Pradesh Olympic Association (HPOA), President Hockey Himachal, President Himachal Pradesh Table Tennis Association and Associate Vice President Hockey India. He is credited with building the world famous Dharamshala Cricket Stadium which is considered as one of the most picturesque stadiums in the world.
In 2019, he was awarded the Sansad Ratan Award for his outstanding performance as a Parliamentarian, becoming the only Member of Parliament from BJP & North India to be coveted with this honour that year. He was conferred with Champions of Change 2019 Award for significant contributions towards social welfare, particularly in the field of Healthcare, Education and Sports, becoming the only Union Ministerto be awarded with this honour that year. He has also been recognized as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum.The Global Fundmade Anurag Singh Thakur their ‘Global Champion’ in the category of Public Health for raising awareness and building a multi-stakeholder initiative about Tuberculosis under the theme ’TB Harega, Desh Jeetega’.
He also served as the President of the EU-India Parliamentary Friendship Group, President of the FICCI Indo-US Parliamentarians Forum and India- Germany Parliamentarians Forum.
Streaming players have been in some sense the saviours of production houses and die-hard content producers. The risk of uncertain returns on content is being transferred to streaming players as they bear the brunt of the vagaries of audience preferences, says Dr S. Raghunath, Professor of Strategy, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
A recently released Indian documentary movie on a streaming platform called ‘1232 kilometres’ about the journey of seven daily wage labourers cycling to their village home during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown received rave reviews. The emotional core of improbable hope with the pandemic as the villain and suspense generated in completing their journey evoked sympathy. In this unconventional thriller it is a general sense of justice that underlies the hope for the triumph of the protagonist and the defeat of the villain.
With physical movement restrained and common viewing arenas such as theatres being passe in the world of virus mutation, the human hunger for entertainment has increased.
The morose, monotonous grind of everyday life encumbered by restrictions on physical movement has made hearts grow fonder for the excitement of watching a movie, web series or a reality show on television channels or streaming platforms. With smartphone brands vying with each other to gain market share, unlike broadcast or cable networks, online services allow mobile phone viewers to watch content on demand. This facilitates binge viewing, the recently popular practice of watching multiple episodes of a single television show in one sitting versus watching an episode a week on traditional networks.
Risk of returns
Streaming players have been in some sense the saviours of production houses and die-hard content producers. The risk of uncertain returns on content is being transferred to streaming players as they bear the brunt of the vagaries of audience preferences.
The subscribers may have subscribed to multiple services to satisfy different content needs. Streaming players therefore have a high customer acquisition costs while the long-term loyalty of customers is anybody’s guess.
They use algorithms to match subscribers to content, thereby offering advantages of customization and delivering it anywhere and everywhere as long as the subscriber has a device. In spite of these differentiating capabilities customers hover around subscriptions to multiple streaming platforms.
Content is king
Content remains the key value driver of streaming players in their current streaming model. Streaming players bring quality content that is ad-free and accessible anytime, anywhere. That has led customers to expect quality and premium content. In fact home grown start-ups in this space like AHA have grabbed market share by offering focused vernacular content.
It is common knowledge that quality and premium content come at a price. Recognizing that remaining a distributor of content has its limitations, incumbent streaming players are attempting to get away from their business and financial dependencies on major studios. Therefore, they are actively pursuing their own local content production. However, producing content can be very expensive while customers continue to prefer watching licensed content.
However, the streaming players are determined to control the streaming value chain by making content original and exclusive. They are making huge investments in content acquisition, licensing and production possibly leading them to substantial debt obligations.With increasing competition, the cost of content is likely to increase. And paying more for an asset could eventually reduce future returns leading to lower margins. Moreover, investments in original content require more cash upfront in comparison to licensed content.
Streaming income in the near future may not always cover the acquisition costs of streaming content assets giving rise to negative cash flow from operations which could in all probability lead to additional debt.
However, the silver lining is about the use of data analytics in understanding customers’ needs, a key strength of streaming players which could create value for third parties. With the imminent introduction of 5G technology and edge computing, video experience can be enhanced with 5G’s higher data rate to support 360° viewing, especially in panoramic content, where 5G provides substantially higher capacity. Streaming platforms can consider adding virtual reality and augmented reality, with gaming and other use cases, which can enhance user experience. Cloud gaming and esports experience are other venues of monetizing as they can be improved by lower latency and higher data rates.
The business model of streaming might expand in the future to include gaming and advertising connected to the profile of gamers.
The bouquet of entertainment could grow richer, wider, and deeper in access and functionality.
International Media Acquisition Corp, the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) founded by Shibasish Sarkar, with eminent entertainment industry members on board has raised $200 million offering 20 million units at $10 through an initial public offering and lists on the Nasdaq under the symbol IMAQU.
The North Brunswick, NJ-based company aims to acquire its target in the next 12-18 months with a special emphasis on Indian media and entertainment sector, with a focus on North America, Europe, and Asia (minus China). It intends to focus specifically on companies that are positioned to benefit directly from the growth of digitally available content.
The company is led by CEO and Chairman Shibasish Sarkar, the Group CEO of Reliance Entertainment, and CFO Vishwas Joshi, who most recently served as executive director and head of studio finance at Walt Disney Company India. IMAC’s board of directors includes Sanjay Wadhwa, managing director of AP International Group, one of the biggest Indian regional-language IP owners, former co-head of CAA’s global client strategy department David Taghioff, Greg Silverman, current head of Stampede Ventures, and former president of creative development and worldwide production at Warner Bros. Pictures, noted U.S. businessman Paul Pelosi Jr. and Suresh Ramamurthi, chairman of CBW Bank.
IMAC is said to be backed by India’s most powerful and influencing entertainment producers, industry leaders, creative talents and studios. The big league reportedly backing the IMAC venture includes Bhushan Kumar of T Series, the Mumbai Movie Studio, Supriya Yarlagadda of Annapurna Studios, B.V.S.N. Prasad’s Sri Venkateswara Cine Chitra, S. Shashikant’s Y Not Studios, Deepa Tracy’s Storiculture, Vishwa Prasad of People Media and Syed Taher Ali’s Taher Cine Tekniq, filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Rohit Shetty, Imtiaz Ali, Luv Ranjan, Neeraj Pandey and actor Vidyut Jammwal.
According to sources familiar with the matter, other supporters of the venture reportedly include producers and media conglomerates such as Bhushan Kumar of film and music studio T-Series, actor-producer Ajay Devgn, the Mumbai Movie Studio, Supriya Yarlagadda of Annapurna Studios, B.V.S.N. Prasad’s Sri Venkateswara Cine Chitra, S. Shashikant’s Y Not Studios, Deepa Tracy’s Storiculture, Vishwa Prasad of People Media and Syed Taher Ali’s Taher Cine Tekniq.
Despite the pandemic hitting the entertainment industry hard, Pranab Kapadia, Director at Moviegoers Entertainment Limited & Co-Producer at Hope Productions is hopeful of its revival adding that F9, RRR, Bell Bottom, Suryavanshi are the films that will be enjoyed only on the big screen.
What made you venture into Moviegoers Entertainment? Especially after spending over a decade in Eros Entertainment?
It’s been an amazing, fruitful and immensely enriching 13 years for me at Eros. Over the years, Eros became home to me and my colleagues, my family. I started out with business head responsibilities for Europe & Africa but gradually assumed a wider role of President Distribution – International thanks to the trust and faith our then CEO Jyoti Deshpande reposed in me. Through the years, I also had the opportunity of working closely with our Chairman Kishore Lulla who is a pioneer and visionary of the India film industry. He, along with his brother, MD Sunil Lulla guided and empowered me. This gave me the confidence to deliver my best. I always wanted to set up something of my own. When Eros decided to focus on their OTT platform Eros Now, I thought it to be an opportune time for me to explore theatrical and other distribution opportunities through my company Moviegoers Entertainment Limited.
How has been this journey (especially during pandemic times)? There has been a lot of activity in Moviegoers Entertainment in recent times…
Life has changed for everybody since the pandemic, especially for all businesses in Hospitality and Entertainment sector. With cinemas closed and shootings stopped, there was no activity in theatrical distribution. But content was being consumed in a big way on OTT platforms. With the support of industry well-wishers, colleagues and friends, we secured exclusive representation rights to integrate Indian content partners on Super Aggregator Platform Screenhits – a game changing Media Tech company founded by the supremely talented Rose Hulse. ScreenHits TV is committed to provide consumers with a single sign-in and easy-to-use interface that combines their pre-existing streaming subscription services, videos and live channels thereby minimizing streaming fatigue by helping viewers discover and seamlessly watch content across leading streaming providers. We are also in the process of taking Screenhits into India and will soon be announcing a tie-up with leading industry media veterans as our joint venture partners.
You have seen the cinema much closer than many others… From the traditional theatrical distribution to streaming.
Yes. In 2004 with Mujhse Shaadi Karoge, I started my journey in overseas film distribution, while at Zee. I Subsequently moved to Adlabs in 2006 and Eros in 2008. In a span of 15+ years, I have overseen release of 170 films theatrically. Vivaah (2006 Rajshree Productions film starring Shahid Kapoor) was the first film to premiere day & date Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) same time as theatrical while I was at Adlabs. It was revolutionary and way ahead of its time. Today we hear of Trolls 2 doing the same and breaking records.
Indian films, mainstream, commercial movies have a global footprint. But it has not rocked in box office or as a ‘Bollywood’ genre. Do you think India still is a force to reckon with?
In early 2000s, if you walked into DVD stores like HMV or Virgin Records, you would find DVDs of Bollywood films in the ‘World Cinema’ section along with Korean, French, German language films. Over the last 20 years or so, ‘Bollywood’ has become mainstream everywhere. Go to any market, speak to any buyer, sample any terrestrial TV platform in any country, from LATAM to Russia, Bollywood has made its mark. Our films are being dubbed and subtitled in several languages because our content resonates with a global audience.
How much time will we take to come back to normal days for cinema (to enjoy in theatres)? How do you react to the success of F9: The Fast Saga in box office and does this feel good factor continue in the coming months?
To my mind, there was never any doubt about the survival of cinema. Any webinar with experts from media industry always said this. The argument was much the same when VCRs and DVD players came into every home, some critics were quick to write off cinemas. But upto March 2020, more than 50 per cent of a film’s revenue was derived from worldwide box office ticket sales. Yes, the pandemic has brought the shutters down for cinemas but it is temporary. In January 2021, Tamil film Master (starring Vijay) released and smashed records grossing over US$6mn in overseas. That infused the much needed confidence in producers that audiences eventually want to experience the right film on the big screen. F9, RRR, Bell Bottom, Suryavanshi etc are films that will be enjoyed only on the big screen.
You continue to distribute films in theatres… Is your confidence in theatrical revenue intact?
Yes. For the right type of film, both customer experience and revenue that one can derive from cinemas will be unmatched by other platforms.
What stays and what will change in the movie industry?
With audiences now getting exposed to different types of content, readily available on their fingertips on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, the demand for good quality content is ever increasing and this means our creative talent will have to work very hard to keep our viewers engaged. Different scripts and subjects which were once considered taboo or non-mainstream are finding financial backers and leading actors to play characters. That is a big change.
Our storytelling and narratives have changed. The whole world is our audience now.
One of your commitments in Moviegoers Entertainment is to become a co-producer with R Balki and Gauri Shinde’s Hope Productions. What are the projects being worked on and anything to share? And why Balki-Gauri Shinde?
I am honoured and delighted to collaborate with India’s finest, most talented, creative powerhouse duo of Gauri Shinde & R Balki. Their unique style of storytelling, creating entertaining content and commercial success out of subjects that are considered taboo, is remarkable. After successfully producing award winning feature films and commercials, collecting several accolades at prestigious film festivals around the world, their production company Hope Productions is now at the cusp of growth and I am excited to lead this as a co-producer. We are working on four films. Two bound scripts are ready. We will be finalising the cast for them and making an official announcement soon. In coming months, we will be making further announcements in terms of projects and our plans going forward.
One of the most interesting services rendered by Moviegoers is on monetisation of film content beyond streaming. What are the avenues open to a producer for new revenue opportunities?
There is a huge area of opportunity for monetising ‘non-theatrical’ rights of catalogue content owned by studios or individual producers. This does not impair deals already done with regard to TV, Digital, Music or Theatrical Rights. (Potential) Outlets include Hospitals, Hotels, Universities, Shopping-Malls, Religious Places etc. Revenues can be trickling but it all adds up. We are currently representing a catalogue of over 1000 films and adding more titles.
Finally, London is your home. How is it to work out of the UK after it has left European Union?
(It) Absolutely made no difference to our business. But at a macro level, there has been a shortage of trained staff for certain jobs because they have returned home either due to Brexit or Covid. Nonetheless, UK always offers great opportunities to the working-class communities and I have no doubt life will return to normal very soon.
Thankfully the localisation business had an upward swing due to a huge demand from streaming platforms as consumers relied on them for entertainment more during lockdown, says Manish Dutt and Krishi Dutt of VR Films & Studios Ltd
Do you miss being at the Cannes Film Festival and Market? For over a decade VR Films & Studios have been regular at Cannes…
Indeed, yes. Virtual Cannes Festival and Market are surely not the same as being physically present there and this is the second consecutive year we missed it because of the challenging situation caused by Covid, though on business front new film acquisitions have been productive and fruitful.
Congrats! VR Films & Studios has done phenomenally well in quarterly results, especially amidst Covid-19 pandemic…
Thank you, God has been kind. In spite of all the Covid induced difficulties and challenges, our FY 2020-21 has been more impressive than the previous year as we have posted more than 10 per cent top line. This quarter April 2021 – June 2021 as well we are hopeful of an impressive 15 per cent growth in the top line as compared to previous years
Has your localisation studio business got impacted by lockdown? How did you manage to change the workflow in your dubbing services?
Thankfully the localisation business had an upward swing due to a huge demand from streaming and TV platforms as consumers relied on them for entertainment more during lockdown. We pioneered our localising systems with “Remote Dubbing” and provided quality output with lots of R&D.
What are your learnings from the operation side of business from lockdown. Do we see this continue in normal times also? Do we go back to pre-Covid times?
We realised with passion and determination, ways and means can be obtained and challenges can be handled effectively. Due to lockdown we had to first equip our team with working infrastructure from home and then innovate the usual dubbing work differently with each talent delivering from their respective homes. It was tough but with lots of effort we had quality output and this turned out to be our USP. We also managed to cut costs without impacting salaries and ensured our team is financially secured as only then each one of us could put in our best effort. We had to survive and gladly we came out stronger.
Theatres were shut and TV platforms were not sublicensing so we made the best with streaming platforms like TVOD, SVOD and AVOD. We had three new releases in this period – Unhinged (Russell Crowe), Target Number One (Josh Hartnett), The Power (Rose Williams) – and are now getting ready with another major Hollywood release, Jolt (Kate Beckinsale).
Post Covid times will be different from pre Covid times as we will incorporate and utilise some of the innovative skills we developed during lockdown, so it will be a beneficial mix of both times for sure.
Have you been able to keep the quality in dubbing the same as that of being done in a studio?
To a major extent yes. We localised some of the best shows during Lockdown for leading streaming platforms, at times delivering more than 400 hours per month and the quality was very appreciated.
Do you see video streaming platforms dominate the film and content space in the coming times?
At the moment they are dominating and will continue to. Times ahead are uncertain but when the situation comes under control theatrical release will come back. Nothing beats the magical release in theatres, the charm to sit in a theatre with an audience and watch a film munching popcorn and samosas. With ad revenue again flowing in, TV platforms too shall make a revival and sub-license films from independents like us.
Have you added new streaming platforms for dubbed services in Indian languages?
We already were localising for the best of the streaming platforms and Covid increased the business many folds as there was a huge demand for localisation during lockdown. We also added some new clients and are in the process of having more on board. We are increasing our dubbing infrastructure as well. We had plans to increase the number of our dubbing studios in 2020 but Covid made us abort those plans then, which we have revived now and we will be adding 10 new dubbing studios in Mumbai which will include Dolby Atmos and Dolby 5.1 mix studios.
It’s interesting to know that you are now into dubbing for Urdu, Singhalese… What are the foreign languages that are in demand now?
Surprisingly there is a demand for Sinhalese, Nepalese and Urdu dubbing from various platforms. Perhaps they are expanding their reach into these territories in the Indian sub-continent with their local languages.
Any impact for your dubbing services for broadcasters — VR Films has been the voice for Cartoon Network, Discovery and other kids channels?
We have been working with the crème de la crème of broadcasters for years and they have remained with us since then. We have constant output for them which has kept increasing and we are in the process of adding new clients too. Hence our expansion plan has started to roll on because of the increasing demand and the Covid situation being managed. From 400 hours a month we are expanding our capacity to nearly 800 hours per month as platforms have realised that to get more subscribers and maximum reach, they would need more hours of content and localisation makes more monetary sense for them.
The Virtual India Pavilion at Marche Du Film provides Indian delegates with an opportunity to meet and conduct business with leading members of the international film fraternity thus creating a global footprint for Indian Cinema. This is a one point contact for Indians at Cannes. The interactive sessions at the India Pavilion are the sought after ones. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, in partnership with FICCI, is organising the India Pavilion.
The objective behind India’s participation at Cannes Film Market is to promote Indian films across linguistic, cultural and regional diversity so as to forge an increasing number of international partnerships in the realms of distribution, production, filming in India, script development and technology, thereby accelerating the growth of the film sector in India.
There are close to 100 online delegates from India at Cannes Film Market this year.
India has audio visual co-production treaties with over 15 countries — Bangladesh, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain, UK & Northern Ireland, Bangladesh and Russia.
The 52nd Edition of IFFI 2021 will take place from November 20-28, 2021. The 9-day cinematic feast will embrace the works of a wide variety of filmmakers across the world with masterclasses and knowledge series. Asia’s oldest event of its kind, IFFI still holds on to its pre-eminent position as a showcase of cinematic excellence. IFFI has remained steadfast in its emphasis on showcasing the diversity of Indian cinema as well as in its commitment to the celebration of excellence across movie making genres.
Film Facilitation Office (FFO), set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, acts as a single point of contact for filmmakers to get all the relevant information about India’s film industry ecosystem, and help them navigate through filming guidelines of key Central government Ministries and State governments. http://www.ffo.gov.in
Marathi cinema is the flavour from India at Cannes. Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation has supported half-a-dozen Marathi filmmakers to participate virtually at the Cannes Film Market. It has selected two films to represent at the Cannes Film Market – Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s ‘Bittersweet’, which examines the plight of sugarcane crop workers; and ‘Mee Vasantrao’ which is the biopic of Vasantrao Deshpande directed by Nipun Dharmadhikari.
6th July 3 pm – 4 pm IST / 11:30 am – 12:30 pm CEST The official opening of the Virtual India Pavilion
7 July 3 pm – 4 pm IST / 11:30 am – 12:30 pm CEST Showcasing International Film Festival of India (IFFI)
5 pm – 6 pm IST / 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm CEST Filming in India
8 July 3 pm – 4 pm IST / 11:30 am – 12:30 pm CEST Co-productions: New markets, New possibilities
9 July 3 pm – 4 pm IST / 11:30 am – 12:30 pm CEST Film Production: Challenges faced & learnt in making global films
10 July 3 pm – 4 pm IST / 11:30 am – 12:30 pm CEST Taking Indian Content to Global Markets: Importance and role of film festivals in the age
The policies of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, are fully geared towards realising the complete potential of the M&E sector by forging global partnerships and providing an enabling environment by lowering market barriers and propelling growth
In the rapidly changing global media and entertainment landscape, India has emerged as a window of opportunity to position itself as a hub for audiovisual services for the rest of the world. Media and Entertainment is one of the champion sectors supported by the Government of India. The incentives for the audiovisual services that closely match the sops given by various other nations are already finalised by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. They are waiting for the appropriate time to announce incentives that is set to handhold industry in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic.
India has probably one of the most liberal investment regimes in the media and entertainment, information and communication sector amongst the emerging economies with a conducive foreign direct investment (FDI) environment and ease of doing business.
Digitization and the growth of the internet are reducing many barriers to market entry and creating opportunities for smaller companies’ offering skills and services in new forms of content creation for various platforms.
In the current scenario, the Indian animation (IPs included) and VFX Services have gained a lot of traction among the international producers and production houses. In the following pages we have curated 15 animation co-production projects seeking partners at Annecy/MIFA 2021.
In the aftermath of coronavirus pandemic, Indian media, entertainment and technology services are witnessing new growth opportunities on the back of growing offshore services domain, especially in animation, VFX, gaming, AR/VR and digital media, among others.
Many companies have created top-end studio facilities in India that serve as single windows to fulfil the needs of the M&E industry (Technicolour India, Deluxe). Their international business model offers local and remote clients the opportunity to produce and co-produce and distribute content anywhere around the world.
Media & Entertainment sector has been supported by the Government of India as one of the champion sectors with immense potential of growth both within and outside the country. Media and Entertainment is also among the sectors that clearly has made an impact of Make in India, Show the World. For services it is Make in India, Serve the World.
The role of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is to facilitate the industry to create jobs and growth for the sector. The government’s efforts are driven towards creation of forums and forge partnerships to keep the momentum going.
Content produced for Indian media sectors holds tremendous potential for global consumption. With a significant diaspora population residing overseas, Indian content is a key tool for these communities to connect with their cultural roots.
The Indian film industry is fairly unique in the world. The country, along with America and China, is among the few that can sustain their industry domestically. You can make a film just for India, or even one region within India. Once when the Government gives green signal to open theatres there are over 83 films waiting to be released in India. OTT players like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney + Hostar, ZEE5 have brought in a transformation in expanding Indian content reach to over 100 territories across the world.
India has audio visual co-production treaties with over 15 countries — Bangladesh, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain, UK & Northern Ireland, Bangladesh, Russia. It is now possible for filmmakers of different countries to come together and make films under bilateral co–production agreements. Co-productions under these agreements are more beneficial to filmmakers than a purely commercial partnership between two individuals or entities. New markets and audiences would be available for the product, especially if collaborations and partnerships are between nationals of different countries.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is currently finalising incentives for co-production, filming under the champion sector scheme. In addition to films, TV Series, Web Series, Animation will be also be included in the co-production projects.
The Augmented and Virtual Reality, the two spectrums of immersive technology, will form the next frontier of growth for the M&E industry. For India, AR/VR can open up new creative avenues. According to a report, the Indian AR/VR market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 76 percent over the next five years, fuelled by demand from business and consumer sectors. The past few years have witnessed the emergence of over 200 AR/VR start-ups in the country. Bengaluru and Hyderabad take the lead, attracting a big chunk of these start-ups, followed by Delhi and Mumbai. Among states, Karnataka and Telengana are actively promoting AR/VR startups by providing incubation, mentoring, idea validation by experts, opportunities to deploy pilots with various departments, along with fund support for eligible ones. This was the major takeaway at the recently concluded Global AVGC Summit FX 2020 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Dinesh Gupta, Director and Co-Founder at Sacom in one of the the recent Pickle columns mentioned massive growth opportunities in video gaming. Statista’s Global Digital Market Outlook pegs the digital media market at US$ 172,502mn in 2020 with a 9.8% year-on-year growth projection. This forecast was adjusted for expected global impact of Covid-19 pandemic. Video Games share with a projected market volume of US$ 92,633 mn and 11.41% growth over previous year dominates the digital media market with a close to 54% worldwide share. This makes the Video Games industry much bigger than Video-on-Demand, ePublishing and Digital Music put together. Majority of the revenues for video gaming are contributed by mobile gaming which is likely to contribute as much as 60% in 2020.
MIPTV has announced David Beckham as a keynote speaker at Digital MIPTV, which this year takes place exclusively online from 12-16 April.
A global sporting icon, football club owner, entrepreneur and founder of production company Studio 99, in his first in-depth television industry keynote, will talk about launching his own production company, his global ambitions for Studio 99, and current projects in production and development for a variety of global networks among other things.
In Conversation with David Beckham, hosted by award-winning Director and Producer Ben Winston, will take place on Tuesday 13 April at 18.00 CEST, and will be available on catch-up until 14 May.
David Beckham OBE is one of the world’s most recognised personalities. After retiring from a football career that saw him play for over 20 years at some of the world’s most successful clubs, David has established himself as a successful entrepreneur, working strategically and creatively with many of the world’s leading brands.
His independent brand management operation, DB Ventures, manages a number of partnerships including with Diageo, Adidas, Tudor and EA Sports in addition to overseeing investments such as Guild Esports plc.
In 2018, he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to become an owner of a football club, an opportunity following his time playing for LA Galaxy, and Inter Miami CF began its first season in the MLS last year.
In 2019, David founded Studio 99 alongside long-time partners David Gardner and Nicola Howson. Studio 99 is a global production and content studio which focuses on documentary films, series and format development. The company is also a commercial studio and produces a wide range of both editorial and marketing content for global brand clients.
Kalaipuli S Thanu, President of the Film Federation of India, has lined up a series of initiatives to find solutions to the challenges faced by the film industry. “I subscribe to the school of thought of watching films in a big screen in pitch darkness among audiences,” industry leader and producer Thanu tells Pickle.
Kalaipuli S Thanu, is the President, Film Federation of India for the year 2021-22. He is one of India’s top film producers and distributors. His latest production ‘Karnan’ starring Dhanush, which comes after the duo struck gold in ‘Asuran’, seems to have struck a chord with the audience even before its release. The prolific producer says it all in his latest tweet- It’s 1 crore+ views for #KandaaVaraSollunga Thanks for showering your tremendous love and support for #Karnan.
This kind of response for his movies is not new, for Thanu’s track record boasts of several commercial and critically acclaimed films. The owner of V Creations and Kalaipuli Films International, also holds a special place in Tamil cinema’s history, for being the one who christened actor Rajinikanth with the title ‘Superstar’. Starting off as a distributor in the late 1970s, Thanu’s meteoric rise to one of India’s most popular producers is a success story by itself. Some of his highest grossers over the years include Cooliekkaran, Kizhakku Cheemayile, Kandukondein Kandukondein, Kaakha Kaakha, Thuppakki, Theri, Kabali and the recent Asuran. Not to mention his revolutionary ways when it comes to promoting his movies.
In 2016, movie-goers were in for a surprise, when they got to see posters of actor Rajinikanth and his film Kabali, on commercial flights. It was for the first time in the history of Indian cinema, an airline had dedicated an aircraft to a movie, thanks to Thanu. Apart from his work on movies, Thanu has also been known to voice his opinion on various issues related to the industry. Last month, when the Tamil Nadu government withdrew its permission to allow 100 percent occupancy in cinema halls owing to the pandemic, Thanu, being the president of the Film Federation of India, wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting him to allow 100 per cent occupancy at least on festival days like Pongal and Republic Day. As an industry leader, Thanu has implemented various reforms and rejuvenation measures for the welfare of the industry in general and producers in particular. He is also known for encouraging young talents.
The National-award winning producer recently added the State government’s Kalaimamani Award to his kitty, which was conferred in recognition of his stellar work in cinema. Excerpts from an interview with him.
What will be your major focus as president of Film Federation of India?
My major objective will be to fight for the rights of the film producers. We need more transparency and unity among various stakeholders of the film industry. This is critical today. We all need to work together to bring back film audiences to theatres to watch films.
The global interest in India and in Indian films has increased in recent times. We are still battling the impact of coronavirus pandemic. Globally, the vaccination programme has begun. It is a positive sign. While the mainstream commercial Indian film sector continues to grow, a new crop of Indian filmmakers has emerged in recent times. This is reflected in the Indian films that have been selected in various global film festivals including Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Busan among others. In recent times, global film festivals have celebrated works of all hues from the diverse movie-making traditions from India. We are extremely proud and happy to celebrate 100th anniversary of Satyajit Ray this year. This is a momentous occasion.
Indian cinema needs to expand its global footprint to get its films widely distributed in new emerging world territories. We need to export and showcase Indian films, heritage and culture to the world. We need to scale up the business and create content factories for the world.
What are your views on the OTT platforms for the film industry?
OTT is just another revenue stream for a producer to exploit IP of a film. It is similar to selling music rights to music publisher, selling DVD rights to a home entertainment company or selling film rights to an airline. OTT is just one of the platforms like a cinema theatre for exhibiting a film. India produces over 1,800 films a year. OTT platforms could afford to get just a couple of hundred films. Over 200 Tamil films are produced every year. Major OTT platforms have room to buy only a dozen big films. Or a small budget film, when it is successful. We welcome OTT platforms. It is a good medium for consumers and a refreshing home entertainment. I subscribe to the school of thought of watching films in a big screen in pitch darkness among audiences. That’s real enjoyment.
You have been very vocal on fighting against piracy…
When a new film is out in the market it instantly gets copied and released in pirated websites. By this Copyright infringement, the film and its producer suffer the most. It has been going on and on. No one could stop this menace. But, there is a way out. When the Government has the power to remove adult/obscene content, it could also stop films being illegally copied, uploaded and streamed in pirated websites and apps.
We will soon be meeting up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javdekar and Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad and emphasize the need to protect films and strict action against pirates (wherever they are). A team comprising celebrities, influencers, film industry leaders representing regional cinemas across India will emphasize the need to stop illegal exploitation of copyrighted films. In the post pandemic times, this is the need of the hour. The film industry has suffered the most.
We have been constantly fighting this menace for more than two decades. Today, we are confident that our prayers will be answered by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
What is the biggest challenge for a film producer today? In post pandemic times, what is the need of the hour?
In majority of the films made in India, the producer of the film suffers the most. The producer invests and facilitates in the making of the film. He risks in investing big amounts for the production and promotion of the film. An intermediary like an online ticket booking company gets a confirmed per ticket share than a producer. We want to fight this out. In current times, there are several challenges to movie exhibitors. OTT platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix have been innovating pricing models. We need to bring that flexible ticket pricing for exhibitors. The government should allow cinemas to deploy flexible ticket pricing. Various state governments in India should allow theatres to charge higher ticket prices for blockbusters, holidays and opening weekends. At the same time, there should be flexibility in offering discounts and flexibility in pricing for small independent films. We need to innovate to get people to get into cinemas. This would also result in net revenue tax collections for the government. This would bring cheers to the producer, distributor and exhibitor.
Indian film industry faces the biggest obstacle from Animal Welfare Board of India. We all know that a goat is slaughtered and its meat served for eating. This is same story for many land animals killed and eaten. But when we show a sparrow in a film, we are accused of harming the sparrow. We are asked to create animals on VFX and CG.
From March 2 to 5, 2021, the seventh edition of “Berlinale Series Market & Conference” will present a top-notch conference programme, international showcases, a curated selection of commercially promising series under the newly created label “Berlinale Series Market Selects”, and regular market screenings. Like at the EFM itself, the screenings and conference will take place digitally, and will be structured to suit the virtual format. The “Mix and Mingle” format within the online version of the “Berlinale Series Market & Conference” will also provide networking for series industry professionals.
Dennis Ruh, EFM director: “With the ‘Berlinale Series Market & Conference’ we’ve again created a ‘market within the market’ where everything revolves around high-quality series content. Series professionals, industry experts and buyers will find numerous opportunities to learn about current trends and trendsetting developments, to discover commercially promising series recommendations, and to see the first images from 2021’s most important series from Germany and other countries. All of it concentrated and located in one place – the EFM website.”
Conference programme highlights: impact storytelling and narrative trends
The digital conference on March 3 will be opened in cooperation with the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, main partner of “Berlinale Series Market & Conference”. The official Berlinale Series programme includes the new series It’s a Sin by legendary British series creator Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, Queer as Folk, Years and Years), and in his opening keynote conversation, he will talk about his wish to address complex subjects and make them accessible to a large audience.
In the masterclass “Social Impact Storytelling”, Maurício Mota (Wise Entertainment) will show how serial storytelling can change hardened perceptions and promote inclusion. Guy Bisson (Ampere Analytics) presents global narrative trends and current facts. In the discussion that follows, high-profile industry representatives will debate the influence of current world events on the detailed strategy of fictional content producers.
Series showcases from all over the world will complement the programme and present new productions and themes. Another high point will be the “Upcoming Series from Germany” selection, which gives insight into the newest German series: Para – Wir sind King (W&B Television, TNT Serie, WarnerMedia), Wild Republic (Lailaps Pictures / X Filme Creative Pool, MagentaTV / WDR / SWR / arte / One, Beta Film), Blackout – Morgen ist es zu spät (W&B Television, SAT.1 / Joyn, Red Arrow Studios International) and Terra Vision (WT) (Kundschafter Film / Sunny Side Up, Netflix). The complete programme will be announced in February.
Series available for online screening
The newly created special label “Berlinale Series Market Selects” highlights extraordinary series of high commercial potential within the “Berlinale Series Market” screenings. The selection – limited to 15 projects maximum – is made by the Berlinale Series committee. With a strong focus on new European productions as well as series from Australia, Russia and Canada, the twelve projects in total bearing the “Berlinale Series Market Selects” label exemplify the global and thematic diversity of the series market: Potential discoveries include crime stories and contemporary family constellations from Scandinavia; creator Albert Espinosa focuses on mental illness in the young adult series Alive & Kicking; and Keeley Hawes and Joanna Lumley grapple with smart houses and the bereavement process in Finding Alice. In the series Katakomben, from Germany, Munich’s surface and its underworld collide in explosive ways.
The “Berlinale Series Market & Conference” is a joint initiative of the European Film Market, the Berlinale Co-Production Market and Berlinale Talents, and is organised in close collaboration with Berlinale Series. The “Berlinale Series Market & Conference” takes place in partnership with Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, and is funded by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
“Series Market Selects” 2021
Aftertaste, Australia Creator: Julie De Fina, Matthew Bate Director: Jonathan Brough with Erik Thomson, Natalie Abbott, Rachel Griffiths Production company: Closer Productions Broadcaster: ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) World Sales: ABC Commercial
Episodes 1-3 of 6
When his latest outburst goes viral, volatile celebrity chef Easton West flees back to his hometown and tries to reinvent himself through an unlikely partnership with his 19-year-old pastry wunderkind niece.
Alfa (Grow), Denmark Creator: Milad Avaz Director: Milad Avaz with Lars Mikkelsen, Andreas Jessen, Sebastian Jessen Production company: SF Studios Productions, Rocket Road Pictures Broadcaster: TV2 Denmark, TV4 Sweden World Sales: ZDF Enterprises
Episodes 1 and 2 of 8
A stockbroker remembers his family roots in organised crime and dives ever deeper into the world of Danish biker gangs. His ambition is only matched by the efforts of his brother, a drug enforcement officer, to save him.
Сны Алисы (Dreams of Alice), Russia Creator: Anastasia Volkova Showrunners: Valeriy Fedorovich, Evgeniy Nikishov Director: Andrey Dzhunkovskiy with Alina Gvasaliya, Aleksey Rozin, Ekaterina Vilkova Production company: 1-2-3 Production Broadcaster: TV-3 World Sales: 1-2-3 Production
Episode 1 of 8
Teenage girl Alice lives in a small town where everything seems ordinary at first sight. She can’t wait to get away from it: the bullying at school, the fights with her mother – and the bloody premonitions that keep haunting her. But what if there is no way to leave?
Los Espabilados (Alive and Kicking), Spain Creator: Albert Espinosa Director: Roger Gual with Álvaro Requena, Marco Sanz, Sara Manzano, Aitor Valadéz Production company: Movistar+ in co-production with Dynamo Audiovisual Broadcaster: Movistar+ World Sales: Beta Film
Episodes 1 and 2 of 7
Four teenagers escape from a psychiatric institution. With a detective on their heels, they take on life with their very own wit, humor and charm – challenging our conception of sanity.
Finding Alice, United Kingdom Director: Roger Goldby with Keeley Hawes, Joanna Lumley, Nigel Havers Production company: Red Production Company Broadcaster: ITV World Sales: STUDIOCANAL
Episodes 1 and 2 of 6
The night Alice and her family move into the dreamhouse her husband Harry built, he has a fatal accident. His sudden death kicks up a storm of secrets, debt and suspicion which Alice is forced to confront in order to survive.
Katakomben (Echos), Germany Creators: Jakob M. Erwa, Florian Kamhuber Showrunner: Jakob M. Erwa, Florian Kamhuber Director: Jakob M. Erwa with Lilly Charlotte Dreesen, Sabine Timoteo, Mercedes Müller Production company: NEUESUPER Broadcaster: ProSiebenSat.1, JOYN Word Sales: Beta Film
Episodes 1 and 2 of 6
When a group of bored high-society kids meets the invisible lower class in the Munich catacombs, everything crashes.
Io ti cercherò (Standing Tall), Italy Creator: Leonardo Fasoli, Maddalena Ravagli Director: Gianluca Maria Tavarelli with Alessandro Gassman, Maya Sansa, Andrea Sartoretti Production company: Publispei Broadcaster: RAI World Sales: ZDF Enterprises
Episodes 1 and 2 of 8
An ex-police officer investigates into his estranged son’s alleged suicide. With the help of old allies and facing the demons of his past, he risks everything to keep the promise he made to his only child.
Mon Fils (Son of Mine), Canada Creators: Michel D’Astous, Anne Boyer Director: Mariloup Wolfe with Antoine L’Écuyer, Élise Guilbault, Patrice Godin Production companies: Quebecor, Duo Productions Broadcasters: Club Illico, TVA World Sales: Oble
Episode 1 and 2 of 6
18-year-old Jacob’s life is shattered by the sudden onset of schizophrenia. His once-bright future is irretrievably shaken by this unforgiving mental illness. As is his mother Marielle’s life, who won’t give up on her son and is determined to help him to get onto the road of recovery.
Outlier, Norway Creators: Arne Berggren, Kristine Berg Showrunners: Arne Berggren, Kristine Berg Directors: Ken Are Bongo, Arne Berggren, Kristine Berg with Hanne Mathisen Haga, Stein Bjørn, Eila Ballovara Varsi Production Company: Shuuto Norway Broadcaster: A Media World Sales: REinvent International Sales
Episodes: 1 and 2 of 8
A criminology student returns to her home town in Northern Norway to throw herself into the investigation of what turns out to be a serial killer case.
OVNI(s) (UFOs), France Creators: Clémence Dargent, Martin Douaire Director: Antony Cordier with Melvil Poupaud, Michel Vuillermoz, Géraldine Pailhas Production company: Montebello Productions Broadcaster: CANAL+ World Sales: STUDIOCANAL
Episodes 1-4 of 12
1978. Didier, a brilliant space engineer, is assigned a new task after his rocket launch went awry: As the head of GEPAN, he has to solve the many mysteries of UFO sightings and lead his team of misfits to efficiency and success.
Pørni (Suck it up), Norway Creator: Henriette Steenstrup Directors: Gunnar Vikene, Charlotte Blom with Henriette Steenstrup, Nils Ole Oftebro, Gunnar Eiriksson Production company: Monster Scripted Broadcaster: Viaplay World Sales: TBA
Episodes 1-3 of 6
Pørni has two daughters, an irresponsible ex, a father and a nephew she took in after a family tragedy, a job in child welfare and a house and garden. Why would she have trouble finding time for herself – especially her love life?
Seeds of Deceit, Netherlands Director: Miriam Guttmann Production company: De Familie Film & TV Broadcaster: VPR World Sales: Dogwoof
Episodes 1-3 of 3
Dr. Karbaat, a pioneer in artificial insemination, became subject to controversy when evidence accumulated that he used his own semen for the process. The documentary series portrays the shocking revelations and the people whose lives were affected by this.