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No Business as Usual for Film Industry

admin   July 13, 2020

COVID-19 has stunned film producers in India, who see the pandemic causing major disruptions in the way this unique industry functions. Here are some major challenges and remedial measures that can be taken to help the industry get back on its feet By Ravi Kottarakara

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused an irreparable damage to businesses and industries globally. Our film industry too finds itself into quite a predicament and the writing on the wall is absolutely clear. The Indian film industry has a peculiar ecosystem and its mode of functioning is entirely different from the normal industrial practices. In the past few years, the business in the Indian film industry has seen a lot of volatility—marked by lots of failures and a meager success rate of say 15%. Adding fuel to the fire, the COVID-19 pandemic has created so much havoc and pandemonium that it’s a difficult task to imagine recovery of the film industry anytime soon.

I have underlined some of issues of the film industry that need to be addressed before we resume business as usual:

PRODUCERS / PRODUCTION SECTOR

The film producers are stunned due to the several issues caused by the novel Corona virus and the lockdown that followed after its outbreak.

Released Films Losses

Some of the films that were released and screened at the cinema halls and were doing well in terms of box office collection have been abruptly stopped after the announcement of lockdown. This has caused irretrievable and permanent loss to the film producers and distributors [During the
lockdown there were around 80 to 90 films in different languages running in various cinema halls pan India]. The financial loss accrued due to abrupt closure of cinema halls during the lockdown is alone expected to amount to more than Rs. 400 crores.

Shooting Locations and Sets

Some film shootings had to be stopped suddenly in the aftermath of COVID-19 crisis that has caused huge losses to film producers. Adding to the injury, many gigantic sets erected by them for shooting are now wearing out [the shooting sets are temporary and made from perishable materials, so lifespan of these setsis very short]. Besides the uncertainty that looms over the commencementof film shootings, the Monsoon season will be another
factor leading to the total destruction of sets, thus creating irreversible losses to the producers as now they would have to erect new sets and structures again. The producers will also have to pay daily rent for the locations where these sets have been erected.It will be an additional cost to him.

Reorganizing and Rescheduling

To start the shooting process is another herculean task as the producers will have to now get new shooting dates from their respective artistes and technicians and reschedule the shooting. Adding to our woes, we are aware that some the artistes and technicians need to travel from different states for shootings. Some films have to be shot in outdoor locations like garden/
parks, bus stands, airports, roads, historical monuments, temples, and farmlands, etc, and shooting at many of these locations doesn’t seem a possibility in near future. Some of these films have to be shot in foreign locations and it looks like an impossible task to get permissions to shoot in those foreign locations in near future.

Unfortunate Loss of Lives & Displacement of workers

In this difficult time, we are experiencing another major issue. Unfortunately, some of our artistes and technicians have become victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and many are experiencing depression, tensions, mental ailments and other issues due to uncertainty in resuming shootings. Now all these film have to be reshot using new artists which would incur additional costs to the producer. Many of the daily wage/ contract and semiskilled workers have returned to their native states and it would be an uphill task to get them resume work.

Debts & Interest on finance

Meanwhile, one of the biggest issues we are facing is the interest accruing on loans after cancellation of shooting and delay in completing and recovering our investments from the projects. The interests to be paid to financiers are mounting by each passing day. Since films are not financed by banks as the film production is perceived as a high risk industry, film producers borrow money at a very high rate of interest of 30% to 48% per annum which is very exorbitant but there is no other option.

Release of films

Even if we complete with a film facing all these hurdles,another major stumbling block would be trying to release the film in these desperate times. The reasons are:

a) To think of a worldwide release looks like an impossibility at this time.We would lose money to be received from those territories/ markets.

b) The cine goers would think twice to watch films in theatres by taking
undue risk of contracting the virus.

c) In this volatile market the distributors would not come forward to buy films.

THEATRES / EXHIBITORS

Social Distancing at Theatres Social distancing will be maintained very strictly at theatres. Tickets will be sold for every alternate or every third seat to maintain a gap between two occupants.

Screening Sanitizing

Further, prior to every show, before entry each and every individual going in for the show will be individually screened for temperature and sanitized before allowed in the premises.

Issues of Screening Films

Post screening, cleansing and disinfection and sanitizing of theatre hall, individual seats, corridors, toilets, will also be done. This will eat into the total time available for shows. The number of shows will have to be reduced to a maximum of three instead of four shows as the lot of time will go into screening, cleaning/sanitization of halls. The time between each show will increase due to checking and sanitizing each individual.Also, the interval time will have to be increased to avoid congestion at food courts/
stalls, etc.

Reduced Footfalls

As there exists a fear of Corona in the minds of the public and the entertainment is available to them on digital mediums like satellite TV and OTT platforms, the need for the public to watch cinema at theatres must be encouraged. Since cinema is still the cheapest form of entertainment in India, we are hopeful that the public will revisit theatres and watch films on large screens coupled with quality sound systems.

Relief sought from the State Government

  • 50% reduction in property tax during lean period*
  • Flat 30% reduction in Electricity Tariffs/Bills for a limited period*[From rates of April 1st]
  • Local Body Entertainment Tax holiday for 5 years. [LBET]
  • No Ticket Price Capping and the unfettered Right to increase the ticket price by the exhibitors due a)restricted sale of 50% capacity of theatre.
  • All shooting Locations such as parks, roads, gardens, Bus stand, Beaches, etc should be given for shooting at Rs.1000/- per day only.
  • *Period is three years.
  • All Monuments, Temples, Archeological Sites, Railway stations, Dams, must be charge only Rs.5000/- per day[Indemnity Bond to be given by producer in case of any damages incurred]
  • Single window permission and clearances for shooting at any location within 72 hours.
  • TDS deduction on sale of copyright rights to Digital, OTT, Satellite, etc, to be reduced to 1%.
  • Instruct Banks to finance film producers/ distributors/ cinema hall at a concessional rate of interest. [the same Rate as for MSME sectors].
  • Central Subsidy of Rs 5 lakh only to be given to the film producer [whose name appears in Censor Board certificate] for every film released [minimum in 10 screens], irrespective of language and where the budget of the film is less than Rs 3 crores[based submissions to Income tax]. The amount to be paid within six months from the date of release of the film.
  • Reduction of GST from 18% to 12% and 12 % to 5% ( there are two slabs).
  • A service charge of Rs.30 at Non A/c Theatres, Rs.40 at A/c Theatres, Rs.50 at multiplexes could be added to every ticket purchased to recover the cost incurred for providing additional sanitization services at theatres and during Film Production [This is collectible by an additional coupon to be issued with every ticket]. The service charge money will be split three ways between the Exhibitor [where film is screened], producer [appears on the censor certificate] and the governments in the ration of 40:30:30 –exhibitor 40% ,producer 30% and government 30% [Central 15% & State 15%, respectively]
  • This service charge is to compensate the exhibitor/producer for the extra expenses/costs incurred on safety measures of sanitization procedures. These recommendations made by us is just to provide some sort of remedial help to the industry on a temporary basis, but in the long run we would only be able to ascertain the damage after the wrath of corona is over and the industry starts functioning.


Get Ready For Mipcom: A Quick Guide

admin   August 31, 2019

ALL UNDER ONE ROOF

MIPCOM will bring together world’s top TV and digital content executives, including 13,800 delegates from more than 110 countries, 4,800 buyers and 2,000 exhibition companies and 250 speakers. The number of SVOD and digital platforms attending MIPCOM is on the rise.

INEVITABLE INDIA

Indian media, entertainment and technology services are growing at an accelerated pace on the back of growing offshore services domain, especially in animation, VFX, gaming, AR/VR, film production, location and new media, among others. The Indian animation and VFX services have gained a lot of traction among the international producers and production houses. Top Indian companies have attained leadership to provide niche cloud services for global M&E companies and studios.

INDIA PAVILION @ MIPCOM

Service Exports Promotion Council (SEPC), set up by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, is offering subsidised registration for Indian delegates at MIPCOM — the world’s biggest entertainment content market at Cannes (October 14-17, 2019). For the second consequtive year, SEPC will set up India Pavilion at MICPOM. Over 200 Indian delegates representing 80 companies participate at MIPCOM every October.

BOOSTING INDIA’S SERVICE POTENTIAL

“Our objective is to handhold independent creative producers, small and medium audiovisual and media services companies to participate at MIPCOM and enhance their business as well as boost India’s service potential in M&E sector,” says Sangeeta Godbole, Director General, SEPC. “The whole objective is to give Indian M&E companies better access to buyers and distributors and help them grow in the new global markets.”

STREAMING REVOLUTION 2.0

Get ready for Streaming Revolution 2.0. MIPCOM’s 2019 conference theme “THE STREAMING OFFENSIVE” resonates across the entire industry. The long awaited strike back has arrived. Media giants, now bigger than ever, are organized and ready to unleash their direct-to-consumer offensive. The highly anticipated new SVOD and AVOD streaming platforms are about to shake-up the global distribution model once again. A fundamental transformation of the content production and licensing ecosystem translating into major streamlining of organizations and business models; new opportunities for technology partners to respond to the insatiable demand for faster content delivery, and richer sound and video experiences; and the never-ending quest for signature programming, top talent and premium IP.

WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING:

AGENT HAMILTON

‘Agent Hamilton’, a spy thriller series based on one of Scandinavia’s hottest literary properties, is set TO have its World Premiere TV Screening.

The 10-hour spy thriller IS currently in production, by DramaCorp for Swedish broadcaster TV4 in co-production with ZDF. Agent Hamilton is based on famous Swedish author/journalist Jan Guillou’s Hamilton novels, which are considered Scandinavia’s most successful literary property of all time. Since it’s set in several countries, the series presents a number of local languages which are held together by a central English-language narrative.


Shooting Locales in India – Tripura

admin   August 1, 2019

Tripura is a landlocked hilly State in north-east India with altitudes varying from 15 to 940 meter above sea level, though the majority of the population lives in the plains. Tripura has a tropical climate and it receives rainfall during the monsoon. It is surrounded on the north, west, and south by Bangladesh and is accessible to the rest of India through the Karimganj district of Assam and Mamit District of Mizoram in the east. The state can serve as a perfect backdrop of an adventure film that demands locales where the jungle plays an important part. Full of virgin locations that are awaiting to be explored, Tripura with five mountain ranges—Boromura, Atharamura, Longtharai, Shakhan and Jampui Hills—is a state full with surprises.

For More Information Contact
Information And Cultural Affairs Department, Director,
Ica Department, Govt. Of Tripura
Tel: 0381-2324688
Email: icadirector.tripura@gmail.com
State Website: https://tripura.gov.in/


Shooting Locales in India – Punjab

admin   August 1, 2019

Already a popular destination with Bollywood filmmakers, Punjab with its ancient buildings erected by the Patiala dynasty, The Golden Temple and a vibrant culture of Amritsar, sunshine-yellow mustard fields, heritage sites, open spaces and effervescent lifestyle, has all the necessary ingrediants to attract global filmmakers. The land of five rivers, Punjab is also the land of food, colour, and happiness. Being one of the most significant places in India historically, this state is filled with wonderful architecture and places of worship.

For More Information Contact
Malwinder Singh Jaggi,
Special Secretary and Director Cultural Affairs & Tourism,
Department of Cultural Affairs & Tourism
Tel: 09780039112
Email: directorculture@yahoo.com
State Website: http://punjab.gov.in/


Shooting Locales in India – Puducherry

admin   August 1, 2019

A French colonial settlement in India until 1954, Puducherry has well preserved its French legacy in French Quarters, with tree-lined streets, mustard-colored colonial villas and chic boutiques. From its beaches to historical monuments and from its temples to churches, this Union Territory of India is an interesting destination. The laid-back charm of Pondicherry is clearly visible in the quaint French part of the town while visitors can also cherish the authentic Indian feel that the city brings through its culture and people.

For More Information Contact
Ravi Chandran, Revenue Officer, Office of Distt. Collector, Pettiyanchatram,
Email: ro-rev.py@gov.in; dcrev.pon@nic.in


Shooting Locales in India – Nagaland

admin   August 1, 2019

A state that is on the world map for Hornbill Festival and music, Nagaland has much more to offer as a pristine shooting location. The mountainous state in northeast India, bordering Myanmar, has immense potential to emerge as a filming destination with the government making an all out effort to put in place film-friendly policies in order to attract shootings from outside. The first Nagamese language movie made its debut recently at Nagaland Film Festival. Based on the inspiring story of Mhonbeni Ezung, the youngest recipient of National Bravery Award for Children, the film was entirely shot in Nagaland.

For More Information Contact
Tokishe Sema/ Asangla Imsong,
Addl.director/ Deputy Director
Tel: 9436005383/ 9436011753
Email: tokishey@yahoo.co.in/ asangim@yahoo.com
State Website: https://www.nagaland.gov.in//portal


Shooting Locales in India – Mizoram

admin   August 1, 2019

Mizoram in North-East India is inhabited by numerous tribes practising a wide range of religious customs. Blessed with a diverse range of geographical features, this small state offers excellent opportunities for film makers to explore its splendour. The landscape of Phawngpui Hills, Vantawang Falls and Palak Lake are just waiting to be captured by camera. Mizoram recently organised a three-day Indian Film Festival at Vanapa Hall in Aizawl. The state government is ready to provide any assistance in terms of infrastructure or logistics support if interested filmmakers would venture in this picturesque state.

For More Information Contact
Lallianpuii,
Joint Director, I&PR Department,
State Nodal Officer for Visual Arts,
Mizoram Information Service, Directorate of Information & Public Relations Department
Tel: 9436158348
Email: lallianpuiiapril@gmail.com
State Website: http://mizoram.nic.in/


Shooting Locales in India – Meghalaya

admin   August 1, 2019

Meghalaya, or the abode of clouds, remains a virgin territory waiting to be exploited for film shootings. Improving its infrastructure manifold, the state recently agreed to come on board the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) and aspires to become a preferred destination for shooting films. Star attractions in the state are its waterfalls, caves, rainforests, hill stations and a lot more. There are numerous places that are well-known all over the world as it boasts some of the most spectacular waterfalls like Nohkalikai Falls, Elephant Falls, and Mawlynnong Falls; the longest caves like Krem Liat Prah and Mawsmai Caves; and the wettest places in the world like Cherrapunji and Mawsynram. The crystal clear water of Umngot River in Dawki, the sacred forests of Mawphlang, and the world-famous living root bridges in Cherrapunji can form a beautiful backdrop of any film and mesemerize the audience world over.

For More Information Contact
State Website: http://meghalaya.gov.in/megportal/


Shooting Locales in India – Manipur

admin   August 1, 2019

Tucked in the beautiful North East India, Manipur has to offer some of the most scenic shooting locations in the country. Home to the beautiful Loktak Lake, picturisque Leimram Waterfall and the majestic Kangla Fort, Manipur is a paradise for filmmakers. The state is also rich in historical monuments like the ancient Kangla Fort or Willong Khullen, an extraordinary place resembling Stone Hinges, that can form a perfect backdrop for a film. The state also has a rich cultural heritage and its numerous festivals have much to offer a film maker. The state also has to offer exotic wildlife, and warmhearted people. It’s simply impossible not to fall in love with this state, which is rightly called the Switzerland of India.

For More Information Contact
Hamom Nabachandra Singh,
Secretary of MSFDS, Manipur Sate Film Development Society
Tel: 0385 – 2451861 (0),+91 8132818015
Email: mfdc_manipur@yahoo.com
State Website: https://manipur.gov.in/


Shooting Locales in India – Lakshadweep

admin   August 1, 2019

Beautiful Lakshadweep was in limelight after Sinjar, a feature film by Malayalam short film director Sandeep Pampally won big at the 65th National Film Awards recently. The Union Territory is a paradise in itself and the simplicity of life here is what can make it a wonderful backdrop of some of the unique stories that need to be told. This tiniest Union Territory of India is situated in Arabian Sea and is considered to be among the most beautiful beach destinations of the country. There are 27 islands in total and each is about 220 to 440 km away from the coast of Kerala. The Department of Tourism Development, UT Administration of Lakshadweep is engaged in the development of Film Tourism in the UT of Lakshadweep. Though till recently Lakshadweep was out of reach for the film industry, considering the importance of film tourism, it has been declared as one of the key elements.

For More Information Contact
Asker Ali,
IAS, Director of Tourism, Department of Tourism,
Near BSNL Exchange, Secretariat – Press Junction Cross road, Kavaratti- 682555
Tel: +91 4896262250
Email: adtourism.lk@gmail.com