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Not right time to open cinema halls: Ravi Kottarakara

admin   July 28, 2020

Amid reports that the government was set to unveil standard operating procedures paving way for the opening of theatres which remain shut ever since the Covid-19 induced lockdown was implemented in March, the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce has felt it is not conducive for cinema halls to open in current conditions and amid restrictions.

SIFCC Secretary Ravi Kottarakara has said cinema theatres should resume operations only after two months of cinema production. This would allow free flow of content into cinema screens. The timing also has to align with the availability of Hollywood and other foreign language films.  

Many Hollywood films have postponed films slated for release scheduled for the next three months. There are over 3800 single screen theatres in South India (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh., Telangana, kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry).


Preventing COVID Spreads at Film Shoots

admin   July 28, 2020

The tags are currently wearable on an individual’s wrist or belt, but there are opportunities to deploy them more widely, such as on shopping carts in grocery stores or with self-guided tour technology at museums or in film shooting spots

A new product EGOpro Social Distancing wearable tag from Italy based A.M.E (Advanced Microwave Engineering) is emerging as solution for social distancing in many parts of the world. A product which was primarily meant for logistics, industrial security and safety is used now used by museums and other institutions. Most likely, this will be embraced by production executives while film shooting.

The company offers highperformance, flexible solutions using active automatic identification (RFID) wireless technologies and sensors for industrial applications. A.M.E. designs, develops and implements integrated, turnkey solutions for industrial security and safety.

One of Florence’s most frequented sites, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) is the first museum complex in the world to execute the usage of social distancing necklaces for its visitors. The EGOpro Active Tag uses radio technology to sense the measure between two tags. The device will flash, vibrate and softly beep when one visitor accidentally walks within two metres or six feet of another, signalling they are too close.

The devices will be handed out free of charge upon entering the museum and will have to be handed back at the end of the visit after which they will be disinfected before being used again. The usage is anonymous and does not track any kind of data.

Magazzino Italian Art is the first museum in the United States to adopt the EGOPro Tag. The primary objective is to promote social distancing among visitors. Visitors are explained that the device is not invasive and just a reminder. They hope to make the best use of it during weekends.

So, what exactly is an EGOpro? Think of it like those buzzers you get at some restaurants to notify you when your order is ready. The buzzing is the same, although this time the sound occurs when visitors get a little too close to one another. As for the devices themselves, they hang on eco-friendly, individually wrapped lanyards available to individuals and/or groups upon entering. If someone gets too close to another visitor, the device will begin to flash red and buzz with increasing urgency to remind parties to widen the gap.

“The usage of this technology in the current pandemic is groundbreaking,” said Rob Hruskoci, owner and CEO of Advanced Industrial Marketing. “Employees can see how much room they have to work with one another, and employers can use this data to reconfigure workspaces to maintain the minimum safe distance while operating.”

The tags are currently wearable on an individual’s wrist or belt, but there are opportunities to deploy them more widely, such as on shopping carts in grocery stores or with selfguided tour technology at museums or in film shooting spots.

Each EGOpro Active Tag is equipped with a unique serial number and has the potential to be connected to a custom software solution. This can be used for counting the number of people in a given area, keeping track on how long they are in certain areas, and even sending alerts to managers if there is overcrowding. Additionally, in a situation where a facility may have been exposed to Covid-19, the software could be used for contact tracing using the device’s individual serial numbers.

The pandemic has baffled medical professionals everywhere, but social distancing protocols that necessitate people in public keeping at least six feet away from other strangers have already been accepted as a basic public health defense against the novel coronavirus. Until a vaccine is developed, it’s likely that devices like the EGOpro tags will become increasingly ubiquitous not just in museums, but in all arenas of public life.


Single Screens Demand Separate SOPs

admin   July 28, 2020

Over two dozen theatre owners representing single screen theatres in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Karnataka and Kerala participated in a recent virtual meeting organised by South Indian Film Chambers of Commerce

With the government (I&B Ministry and Home Ministry) working on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the reopening of cinema halls, which remain shut due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown, owners of single screen theatres have urged for separate SOPs, compared to multiplexes. Over two dozen theatre owners representing single screen theatres in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Karnataka and Kerala participated in a recent virtual meeting organised by South Indian Film Chambers of Commerce.

Majority of them, who are GST payers, have complained that banks are not lending to them under the Central government’s scheme for the MSMEs. According to them, single screen theatres are not to be treated on par with multiplex theatres. Both work on two different sets of guidelines, concessions, rules, strategies, policies and enterprises.

They said renewal for theatre licence must be worked on auto renewal mode for an additional year and there shuld not be separate additional fees or procedure other than an online request Theatre owners said property tax should be reduced by 50 per cent. There are existing property tax rebates in Andhra Pradesh which have to be given in all states in India.

“Electricity charges will be paid only on the consumption and not on minimum due, irrespective of high tension, low tension or commercial establishments category,” they said and added that the Licenced projector operators mandatory clause has to be removed as it is only digital projection these days and that is a draconian law which has to be modified. Local Body Tax is to be exempted in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, theatre owners urged the government.

“Clarification that theatres operate in the gambit of MSME sector and all concessions given to MSME sector (loans criteria, concessional interest, interest wavier during moratorium period) must be given the exhibition sector.”

According to theatre owners, harsh enforcement conditions should not be imposed during opening of theatres post covid scenario. Theatre staff and workers should be included under cinema workers scheme and some necessary support should be given to them, they said and added that GST tariff has to be put under a reduced tax slab from the existing 18 to 12 and 12 to 8 per cent.

“Theatre construction rules should be simplified and ease in conversion needs to be given from one big screen to two small screens. Ease the setbacks condition, rules, application and sanctioning formalities”.

It has been decided to send letters recommending the above to Central and State governments by e-mail, post. It has also been decided to directly meet the Chief Ministers concerned representing the issues and concerns in person with a team of prominent exhibitors form each State.

“Cash flow is the need of the hour as working capital for single screens. Banks should be advised to lend under MSME scheme equivalent to 3 to 6 months of  fixed costs which could be the hard costs of rentals; electricity; wage bill. These could be easily established by a self-declaration with the auditor’s confirmation.” theatre owners said. They also wanted the proposed increase in electricity tariff to be deferred.

“The above mentioned recommendations and requests are critical for the survival of the single screens in India,” owners felt. Out of 9500 screens in the country, 3500 are multplex screens and South India has many single screen theatres, which are part and parcel of not just the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada film industries, but also an integral part of the lives of people for whom cinema is like a religion.


Venice will open with two Italian films

admin   July 28, 2020

Molecole, a documentary film by Andrew Segre will be the festival’s pre-opening film on September 1 and ‘Lacci’ by Daniele Luchetti will be its opening film on September 2

For the first time in 11 years, the Venice International Film Festival will open with two Italian films. The festival has announced that the pre-opening film for its 77th year will be Molecole, a documentary by Italian director Andrew Segre. The film, which was made in Venice during the coronavirus lockdown, will be screened on Tuesday, September 1. The Venice International Film Festival is organised by La Biennale di Venezia

The festival’s opening film for 2020 will be Lacci (The Ties) by Rome-born director Daniele Luchetti. Lacci will be screened Wednesday September 2nd, in the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido di Venezia, on the opening night of the 77th Venice Film Festival. Produced by IBC Movie with Rai Cinema, Lacci was written by Domenico Starnone, Francesco Piccolo and Daniele Luchetti

LACCI (The Ties)

“Recently, we have all feared that cinema might become extinct,” says Daniele Luchetti. “Yet during the quarantine it gave us comfort, like a light gleaming in a cavern. Today we have understood something else: that films, television series, novels, are indispensable in our lives. Long live festivals, then, which allow us to come together to celebrate the true meaning of our work. If anyone thought it served no purpose, they now know it is important to everyone. With Lacci I am honoured to open the dances of the first great festival in unexpected times”.

“It’s been eleven years since the Venice International Film Festival was opened by an Italian film.” says Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera. “This happy opportunity was offered by the wonderful film directed by Daniele Luchetti, an anatomy of a married couple’s problematic coexistence, as they struggle with infidelity, emotional blackmail, suffering and guilt, with an added mystery that is not revealed until the end. Supported by an outstanding cast, the film is also a sign of the promising phase in Italian cinema today, continuing the positive trend seen in recent years, which the quality of the films invited to Venice this year will surely confirm”.

Naples, early 1980s: the marriage between Aldo and Vanda begins to break down when Aldo falls in love with young Lidia. Thirty years later, Aldo and Vanda are still married. A mystery about feelings, a story of loyalty and faithlessness, of resentment and shame. Betrayal, pain, a secret box, a home laid waste, a cat, the voice of people in love and that of people out of love. From the novel by Domenico Starnone, one of the New York Times’ 100 notable books of 2017, this is the new film by Daniele Luchetti.

Molecole

The new film by Venetian director Andrea Segre (Io sono Li, La prima neve, Il pianeta in mare), the documentary Molecole (70’), made in Venice when it was locked down for the coronavirus, will be screened on the Pre-opening night, Tuesday September 1st, of the 77th Venice International Film Festival of the La Biennale di Venezia, in the Sala Darsena theatre (Palazzo del Cinema) at the Lido.

Between February and April 2020, while preparing two projects, one for the theatre and one for film, director Andrea Segre was held up in Venice by the spread of the coronavirus and the consequent national quarantine measures. Many of his projects have been and are based in Venice, his father’s city, a complex city from many points of view. This pandemic “froze” and emptied out the city, restoring it to nature and to its history, and – at a personal level – to the family memories of the director, who used that time to gather visual notes and stories in the documentary Molecole. The film brings to the surface his bond with his Venetian father, a scientist, chemist and physicist and the real protagonist of the film, who passed away ten years ago. The isolation of the city merges with the more personal, intimate isolation of the director, who wrote the original screenplay. The film will be released in theatres starting September 3rd 2020.

“To make a film you have to conceive it, write it, organize it and film it. None of this happened for MOLECOLE. I didn’t even realize I was making it. It was an experience for me and the film came out by itself, in a timeframe and dimension I could not have anticipated. MOLECOLE just spurted out. Like water. To present it as the pre-opening film of the Venice Film Festival is a great honour for me, the best way to thank the city that gave birth to it.”

VIRTUAL VENINCE GAP FINANCING MARKET

The Venice Production Bridge, the festival’s informal market will take place for the seventh edition of the Venice Gap-Financing Market, which will take place online from September 4th to 6th, 2020, during the 77th Venice International Film Festival (September 2nd – 12th, 2020). The Venice Gap-Financing Market is a platform for selected projects that aims to support European and international producers to secure financing for their projects (Fiction Films, Documentaries and VR Immersive Story Projects) through one-to-one meetings with potential and pertinent international professionals (producers, sales agents, distributors, financiers, broadcasters and funds) 


Featured Post

New Model of Filmmaking in India

admin   July 21, 2020

Covid has brought lot of distress to the film industry, but if you look at it as an optimist, it has brought in a new set of opportunities for independent filmmakers By O P Srivastava

In Chinese, the word ‘Crisis’ is made of two strokes- one represents ‘Danger’ and the other represents ‘Opportunity’.

Covid has brought lot of distress to the film industry, but, if you look at it as an optimist, it has brought in a new set of opportunities also.

It has ushered in an era of OTT platform based streaming, which is not only cutting across a number of layers between the filmmakers and the ultimate audience, but also making independent filmmaking a viable business proposition in India. Till now in order to make a film In India, one was required to collect ‘a bagful’ of money and then raise another bagful to promote the film and then beg borrow or steal another one to release the film. And even after going through this long ordeal, a filmmaker could not be sure of ‘what cash flows’ were going to come back to his or her kitty. It is a well-known fact that whereas the big production houses and star-producers manage to multiply their investments in their films multi fold, the small producers, in ninety nine per cent of cases, end up losing their capital also. But, post March 2020, things started changing-thanks to Covid.

The prolonged lockdown has induced not only a change in our lifestyle but it has also dented a shift in the consumption behavior including the digital consumption.

The long struggling OTT platforms have suddenly taken off !

In the first quarter of 2020, Netflix added a staggering 15.8 million paid subscribers as the locked-down audience turned to OTT platforms in the absence of PVRs of the world. According to reports, Netflix’ global total has reached 189 million with audience binging on shows like Love and Blind and Money Heist and Indian web series like Delhi Crime, Jamtara, Made in Heaven, Mirzapur, Special OPS etc. Amazon Prime, Hot Star and ZEE5 have reportedly seen 65 per cent increase in their consumption pattern during March- June 2020 quarter.

One of the most impacted sectors due to the lockdown has been the entertainment industry. Not only the production activity has come to a grinding halt, the theatrical distribution companies like PVR have also suffered a serious blow (Share price down form Rs. 1815 on December 2, 2019 to Rs 1037 on July 17, 2020). So much so that an Amitabh Bachhan starrer like Gulabo Sitabo found it viable to release on a digital platform. To my mind, this trend is also a manifestation of a fundamental change happening in the ‘financial model of filmmaking’ in India. First of all, it indicates an increasing share of revenue from digital release of a film and a decreasing share of cash flows coming from the theatrical releases. The resultant combination of these two major cash flows increases the ‘certainty quotient’ in the total revenue stream of a film thereby enhancing the predictability and the stability of monetization in the filmmaking business. A more predictable or measurable revenue stream of a film is a good sign from an investor’s point of view. It helps the investors or a financier or a banker to look at investment in ‘filmmaking’ much more favorably. Besides, logically the stuff made for OTT platforms may not be as extravagant or as expensive as the high budget films made for the big screen. The success of the recently streamed popular films/episodic web series content like Patallok, Panchayat, Chintu Ka Birthday etc on OTT platforms largely driven by non-stars/ first timers is also an indication that for a film to be commercially successful on an OTT platform, it need not depend on the hugely expensive stars or sets thus bringing down the cost of the film and thereby increasing the Return on Investment ( ROI) on a film project. The success of Netflix Original or Amazon Original is, in a way, indicative of a new business model shaping up in the film industry. Add to this, the fact that in the post-Covid scenario, due to the enhanced pressure on timelines and productivity, ‘digitization’ in the filmmaking is bound to increase. We are looking at a ‘picture’, which may be more viable financially speaking.

Yoodlee model of filmmaking

Three years back, when Yoodlee films started making small budget films based on the stories of a new crop of writers, there were many, who would have scoffed at their misadventure in the market dominated by the big budget star-studded films. But three years down the line, the tide has taken a U-turn with the explosion of viewership on the OTT streaming platforms, where even big blockbusters are getting forced to seek a release instead of waiting for cinema halls to open. Yoodlee films, with 13 small budget successful films like Chaman Bahar, Axone, Ajji etc. has not only proven that successful films can be made without big stars, big sets, high tech VFX, big promotions and of course big budgets, they have also opened doors for a new wave of filmmaking in India. What are the basics of this new model? Here it goes.

  • Films are made with a focus on the audience in digital space only (essentially meaning that the films need not have the elements, which are required to pull the front benchers in cinema halls like the item songs etc. as an add- on in the film.)
  • Films are produced in a small budget (rumored to be between 1-2 Cr) under strictly monitored execution process. An independent auditor, who is given a pre-approved budget with day-by-day break up of the expenses, continuously audits all expenses during the entire schedule.
  • The choice of films is driven by the script and script only, having fresh perspective. All scriptwriters are reportedly paid on profit sharing basis.
  • All films are produced on a tight time schedule, within nine months- no time overrun and no cost overruns.
  • All films are shot on real locations-no artificial sets.
  • The film crews unless they are extremely senior artists, take train to locations and expect no five star hospitality or vanity vans.
  • Most of the investment is put into production.
  • All films are less than 120 minutes.
  • The direct sale to OTT platform eliminates the huge promotion and distribution cost enhancing the financial viability of the project.
  • They just produce films, own the IP of the content and are creating a pool of quality films – a perfect business model for a Venture Capitalist to step in.

Yoodlee, the way to go!!

O P Srivastava, a banker turned filmmaker, started his filmography in 2015 by producing a fiction film, ‘Missed Call’, which won 4 International Awards including selection as the opening film at IFFI 2006, Best International Film at Israel 2008 and represented India at Cinema du Monde, Cannes in 2007. His first feature documentary, Life in Metaphors, won the National Award for Best Biopic in 2015.