In this Pickle interview, Katharina Suckale and Arfi Lamba of Bombay Berlin Film Productions recall how the situation when they floated their firm, elaborate how it has changed now and decode how would future be post pandemic.
We met last at Berlinale 2020. Twenty-four months have passed? We are in mid-pandemic environs now… How has been last two years for you?
Actually, the last two years have been very intense and exciting. Due to the pandemic, our business and company started following the work from home with the support of digital communication tools.We developed a series with Disney+ Hotstar and produced a short film too, that should premiere at a big festival soon.
Meanwhile, Bombay-Berlin had one of its films on one of the streaming sites…
Yes, our feature film “LOEV” is available on Netflix in 180 countries and we got a lot of feedback over social media. It is inspiring to get so much love and appreciation over Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We were happy to see the enthusiasm of the spectators and also how these social media tools have brought the audience closer to the makers.
Besides, our short film “The Idiot” got sold to Amazon UK and USA, Disney+ Hotstar and the prestigious and curated US short film platform, Argo.
What projects are you currently working on? What is the progress?
We continued the festival tour of our Marathi feature film “Trijya” (Radius) by Akshay Indikar, which tells the journey of a young man in his 20s who is as confused as one can be. We were honoured that the film won the National Award of Best Sound Design in 2021. With the opening of the movie halls, we plan a release in the cinemas and VOD platforms.
Besides, we bought the rights to an Indian biopic. The screenplay is in its writing process in cooperation with Olivia Stewart. At the same time, we have series concepts submitted to Indian platforms and German channels.
Going forward, what are the challenges you foresee as a producer?
Once the pandemic is over, it will be the question of whether arthouse cinema in all its variety will survive. The habits of spectators have further changed that they mainly come to the cinemas for blockbusters. As we all know the situation of film distributors in Germany and Europe became difficult due to the lockdowns the last two years. Will the variety of films and film art worldwide sustain?
The creative teams from writers, directors, cast, crew to post-production will have to acknowledge too that the spectators and their habits have changed over the past years. The demands on the quality of stories have risen. What stories will be successful in the vast diversity of content, tastes, platforms, and markets? It became even less predictable than 10-15 years ago.
Post pandemic, what has changed in the business (as a producer) and what will never come back?
In the last years, the business has shifted towards the production of series and short formats such as Tiktok, YouTube, etc… The release of feature films apart from big blockbusters became a challenge. In Germany, cinemas were closed during 7-8 months a year and opened with an occupancy of 35% due to Covid regulations, similar to India. This is neither easy for distributors, exhibitors, sales companies, investors, producers and filmmakers.
Due to the high concept series available on HBO, Amazon, Netflix, ZDF, ARD, Disney, etc., spectators became even more demanding than before. They got used to top quality on all levels. This requests high budgets and well-trained writers, directors, and crew members. Another bigger challenge will be the availability of crew. While every studio/producer is rushing to finish the pending shoot due to Covid, new series are being greenlit and crew is becoming a huge issue for shoots.
How has the various film markets — most of them online — worked for you?
It was interesting to attend Cannes, Chicago, Tallinn, Les Arcs, Rotterdam etc. digitally. You stayed connected to basic information on the transformation of the business and new technologies. The panels gave you the newest market tendencies and the latest films and series released. Even the enormity of bigger events was reduced to be somewhat like a Zoom call. Not being able to see people in person, to network and lock deals, was a huge bummer, only replaced by a small screen in your home office. It is a very one-sided communication.
What are the negatives of an online market? Why do you prefer the physical market?
During these digital markets and events, you experience also a lot of “Ghost Chatting”, where people appear and disappear, projects appear and disappear. There is less reliability and you do not have many networking possibilities to expand your business and artistic connections. All our business along the two years of Covid was based on the connections we had established over the last 10-15 years, build over our productions and onsite markets. Maybe, online markets were at a nascent stage and born out of necessity and that’s why they lacked the productivity of a physical market by a huge margin.
Are you optimistic that things will get better to have a physical market and full-fledged festival during Cannes in May?
We are very hopeful. Business continued during the pandemic, while films and series got shot, pushing to the film markets respectively the spectator. We are optimistic that business will start moving even better because people will find their life back, hopefully going out, meeting people, wanting to hear and exchange new stories. Though there will be some irreversible changes. Digital meetings and events are here to stay forever. But they will never be able to replace physical meetings.
You had created Bombay-Berlin Productions with a vision to bring filmmakers from both countries, make films that will bring two cultures together?
We are very happy that Europe and India as well as Germany and India continued to approach each other exchanging stories. We have discovered the possibility to get to know more about the other continent due to new media and globalization. The feedback of German channels on Indian content in 2003/2006 was still that “German spectators are not interested in India.” Nobody would say something like this in 2022. In today’s times, you can watch Indian films and series over Netflix and Amazon all over the world. LOEV is streamed in 180 countries. Who would have imagined these developments in 2011 when we founded Bombay Berlin Film Productions?
Where do we stand in the Indo-German audio-visual collaboration going forward?
There is a long-distance to be covered. Germany has a robust funding system, supported by Creative Europe and Eurimages, while India has one fund, NFDC (National Film Development Corporation of India), that also promises to fund Regional Indian films only. Also, there is still a resistance to see the stories that can take place in these two countries with their own language and culture clashes. Language stays a big negotiating factor for the audiences in India, and for traditional German audiences.
People in Germany and India have been in different lockdowns under changing regulations. This influenced and changed human relationships. We have been talking to German channels who would be interested to work in India as well as Indian platforms to collaborate with Germany and Europe. We have to find the stories which interest the spectators on both continents.
At one point of time Shah Rukh Khan could bring Berlin traffic to a standstill… Can this happen now?
After the lockdown, we were happy to meet young people in their 20s who love watching Bollywood films with Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, and other Indian stars. They sit together with their parents in front of the television, loving and crying with these stories. They want to dream again, feeling happiness and joy, because life became more difficult than 10-20 years ago.
Lockdowns and social media brought the fans closer to their stars in this time. And one thing is sure, fans always find out where their favorite star is. When Shah Rukh Khan would come to Berlin, some people would know and with the word of mouth spreading fast more people would find out, because with his films he still represents love and hope which people are even more looking for today.
How do we make India and Germany to collaborate? We don’t see co-productions similar to Don2 and The Lunch Box? Why?
Don2 and Lunchbox were exceptions to the rule and this is the magic of cinema. Germany produced on average 200-300 feature films per year, most of these films are neither known in Germany as well as outside the country. They don’t get a release, similar to some films in France and India. There have always been exceptions where the word of mouth spread.
To get more collaboration, we need to support the core of filmmaking, which means the writers, creators and producers. There are pan-European writers/directors and producers Labs. This doesn’t exist between Europe and India.
While the whole world is collaborating, producing films and series based out of different world regions, India is still a self-sufficient market, generating huge content and revenue for the domestic market. There is a big potential in international collaborations and that has to be exploited sooner than later. They should get already the financial support to develop content that would fit German/European spectators as well as Indian spectators.
Then for the production, films and series projects need support from institutions over tax credits and public funding in India to make it interesting for private investors to join the financing. Then also German and European funding institutions will be interested and vice versa.
Do you see scope for India and German collaboration in streaming space? Are there any OTT platforms beyond Netflix and Amazon in the German market?
Apart from Netflix and Amazon, there is Sky/Comcast releasing series also from HBO, TNT-Warner Media, Telecom/Magenta TV, and Disney+. ZDF and ARD have their own digital platforms. There are smaller platforms too but not as successful in terms of spectators and revenues. In general, the philosophy of streamers in Germany is to create “local content”, which means in each case something different. And you never know what they are planning now for the future?
Channels like ARD and ZDF are partly more open to coproductions. For example, ZDF, France Télévisions and RAI Italy are cooperating on international series. They need to do co-productions with several countries in order to raise the finances the streamers have available, opening to larger markets, too. We would need that support from India. Indian filmmakers and producers need to have a big co-production fund to make content and have it released in the international market.
Lastly, what are your prescriptions for Indian people to watch subtitled or dubbed German content in India…
Over the last 2-3 years, a lot of spectators in India, as well as Germany, started to appreciate original versions with subtitles, if it is a thriller, drama, sci-fi, or comedy genre.
Have a look on Netflix or Amazon you can watch interesting films and series from “Dark” to “Oh Boy”, “Good-by Lenin” or series like “Parfum”, “Bad Banks”, “Ku’damm 56” (ZDF co-productions) or “Charité”, “Weissensse” (ARD productions), “Dreamwomen” and many more. And by the way, don’t forget that the series “Queen Gambit” was mostly shot in Berlin-Brandenburg because of the local support.
Industry leaders took the stage to discuss what it means to be Independent today, the state of the industry and how their companies are working to shape the future of independent film.
Consolidation seems to be the way forward for entertainment industry, if one is to go by what experts spoke at the opening session of AFM ‘The Independent Film Ecosphere – Present and Future’.
While Stephen Galloway, Dean, Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, was the moderator, Liesl Copland, EVP, Content and Platform Strategy, Participant; Jonathan Kier, Co-President, Upgrade Productions; Brian O’Shea, CEO, The Exchange; and Julia Weber, Head of International Sales and Acquisitions, Global Screen – A Telepool Brand were the panelists.
Talking about the biggest change in the past couple years and biggest change they see coming up in the next few years, Liesl Copland said, “I think consolidation, where the studios all have their platforms and know their audience and have ad-supported and have subscription…honestly, we’re post the impact of Amazon, Netflix, and so-forth…Apple TV and everything…but the consolidation I think makes every one of us in this [business] need to specialize, and at the same time as do everything.”
Liesl Copland, while sharing opinion on whether the big streamers would be spending this much on content in five years, said, “Well it depends on their subscriber base! Will HBO Max and will Peacock and will Paramount Plus (be spending this much) I hope so! Will Netflix? No. You know, I think they’ll pay for the big shiny stuff and the tentpoles in their own universe, then I think, just by nature of running a good business, and not to criticize, I think they will and already are spending less on sort of the programmers and the things that we expect to see when we stay in their system.”
According to Brian O’Shea, “There’s been a complete and utter disruption, where there’s opportunity in it…AVOD is becoming…basically what basic cable was – and through the process of new technology, you’ve liquidated or completely eradicated a big revenue stream for filmmakers, and for distributors and financiers…but in that becomes opportunity. We see growth by being flexible in the types of projects that we get involved with…we are diving head first into development and creation, and I think that is the backstop strategy for us in regards to maintaining relevance. Because as this disruption happens, both historically but also looking forward, the control center becomes closer and closer to the creators, and we want to be closer and closer to them, and complement their business, but with us ourselves becoming creators as well.”
Julia Weber said, “For me, this really feels like now we are in the midst of a digital revolution, and now we can really feel how this is shifting and changing all former setups. And for me, really so massive – I mean we’ve always been talking about that in other industries, if you look at automotive or whatever, but now it’s really happening in our business and that, I think, is a major opportunity. We don’t need to be afraid of it, and we won’t be able to stop it anyhow, so we need to adapt quickly and soon, and figure out our ways in between – and yes, we’ve never been so flexible and open-minded than we are and have to be now.”
Discussing on ‘What is going to happen in a few years to windows – are we going to go back to proper windows, are they going to disappear altogether?’, Liesl Copland said, “I do think that we’ll wake up from COVID and the windows will have forever been changed.”
Julia Weber stated, “Theatrical business in Europe is being highly protected – they’ve really tried to prevent any kind of shortening of these windows, and I think we have to try, at least in a situation like we have right now, to keep it as long as possible in a way to give the theaters a chance. People who would like to go to the movies are desperate to go to the movies – and they do not only go for the tentpoles (they do enjoy James Bond and such of course) but they also love the big scale pictures that you can only enjoy that in the theater. People want to make sure that the time and money that they spend for this evening needs to have a certain value to it.”
According to Stephen Galloway, “I suspect that we’re witnessing the end of the Hollywood era. We’ve all seen in the theatrical business, a business that fifty years ago was 30% international is now 70-75% international, would some say there’s a tipping point? Right now, the creative heart is centered here, but at some point, when you’ve got the technology and the manpower overseas, the art develops too. I can easily imagine a huge shift – again, look at Squid Game! For decades, foreign language film was less than 1% of the US theatrical business – now, Ted Sarandos was telling me, the biggest explosion they’ve seen is Korean language content.”
Throwing light on the globalization of content, Kier said, “The rise of nationalism does affect the culture, and the culture all over the world – what the audience is saying is that they want to see their own stories on screen. They don’t want to see American actors doing accents much, and the market in the US – my mother is obsessed with Turkish soap operas and my brother is watching German series – these are things that were not available two years ago. This all goes back to data – as it turns out, there is an audience there – and a lot of the sort of traditional gatekeepers, which were broadcasters around d the world, who would say to me and Brian and Julia ‘No, we don’t want this film, we don’t want this project,’ they were wrong, it turns out. The audience is there. That’s why I think this is creating a lot of opportunity.”
IndiaJoy and Esports Platform MPL to present one of the biggest virtual digital entertainment festival from 16 to 19 November 2021
Digital entertainment festival IndiaJoy ( https://www.indiajoy.in ) is the ‘largest congregation of Gaming, Animation, VFX, E-Sports and Entertainment events in India’. It is an aggregator platform, bringing together prestigious international events in one place to unfold opportunities for Investors, Corporations, Studios, Content Developers, Delegates, Consumers, Hardware manufacturers and students, through series of Networking, Trade Exhibitions, Product Launches, B2B and B2C events.
Since its inaugural edition, IndiaJoy enjoyed a record-high number of visitors to attract more than 30,000 participants including visitors and global delegates, attracting investments of USD10 million for the past 3 years and catalysing the emergence of startups. IndiaJoy attracted exhibitors from across the globe, including Adobe, Netflix, Sony, British Columbia, Moiba, Gametion, Australian Trade Commission, Victoria Trade, Unity Epic, and Homa Games in its last few editions.
This digital festival will be held this year virtually from 16 to 19 November. Mobile Premier League (MPL), Asia’s largest esports and skill gaming platform has become the presenting sponsor of IndiaJoy 2021. The annual event is hosted by Telangana Virtual Animation and Gaming Association (TVAGA) and supported by the Government of Telangana.
K T Rama Rao, Minister for Municipal Admin & Urban Dev, Industry & Commerce, ITE&C, Government of Telangana, said, “In the past three editions, IndiaJoy has played a significant role in boosting the AVGC sector in Asia. It has also helped shine a spotlight on the city of Hyderabad as one of the important hubs in the global digital entertainment industry. The Media & Entertainment sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.7% to reach Rs 2.23 trillion (US$30.6 billion) by 2023. Telangana Government has been at the forefront of harnessing the new digital entertainment revolution that requires a state to promote the use, adoption, and adaptation of cutting-edge technologies. We have, and continue to build a robust ecosystem, infrastructure base to promote leading-edge technologies which is a must for success. Initiatives such as Image Towers and hosting global scale events like IndiaJoy which encompass Animation, VFX, OTT, and Gaming have catalysed the growth of the sector both in Hyderabad and in India. Our vision is to make IndiaJoy an event that the world looks forward to every year.”
The Organizers of the event, TVAGA Core committee members – Rajiv Chilaka – President, Sridhar Muppidi – Vice-President, Madhava Reddy – General Secretary, played a crucial role in bringing their experience, and passion to make IndiaJoy a platform that boosts the fame and advancements of Indian AVGC industry at international level.
In its fourth edition, the festival is bringing together businesses, business leaders, content creators, professionals across gaming, animation, digital media, and entertainment sectors, and will feature VFX, OTT Pulse, Influencer Conference, and DesiToons.
A Global Scale VFX Summit made its debut in IndiaJoy 2019 in Hyderabad. The purpose of the event is to facilitate B2B virtual networking, Exposition, Expert Speaks about top-of-the-line visual effects that are in great demand. TV shows that seek cutting edge VFX work ensuring the industry to flourish in recent times and a lot more knowledge sharing is expected during this VFX summit.
One of the industry leaders Biren Ghose, Chairman, CII National Committee for AVGC & Country Head – Technicolor, India said, “India’s trajectory in the digital media world is exponential and is now a globally acknowledged force to reckon with. The creative technology innovations in AVGC are also note of import to adjacent sectors like education, R&D design, etc. Telengana has shown strong strategic intent in partnering industry and academia with enabling policy and infrastructure support to take the games, VFX and animation industries to new levels of performance. IndiaJoy is the forum that celebrates the milestones and acts as a torchbearer for the state. Connections & collaborations is what I hope to see flourish at this year’s event.”
This year, VFX summit will witness participation from VFX giants from across the globe, with a lineup of conferences, panel discussions, Networking sessions. Attendees at the summit include some of the biggest studios, VFX Specialists, Broadcasts, students, Brands, Agencies and Creative professionals from the industry.
Combination of low-cost mobile data, affordable smartphones, fresh content, and lockdown induced boredom changed the game for OTT industry. The way in which audiences consume content has changed dramatically during the pandemic, with the number of people turning to OTT taking a sharp rise, driven by both the pandemic and the proliferation of streaming services.
With the rise of massive entertainers like Netflix Inc.’s runaway hit Squid Game came like a bolt from the blue for viewers around the world. Our own India’s famous Chota Bheem, had made many glued to OTT platforms in India. The pandemic pushed big budget movies and the smaller ones equally to be streamed in these platforms.
The content viewing in OTT platforms grew multifold, according to a recent CII-BCG report, the number of paid OTT subscriptions was up by 55-60% to 100-125 million in 2020 from 49 million subscriptions in 2018.
IndiaJoy’s OTT Pulse will see content creators, industry experts, senior media executives and leading digital platforms showcase and discuss their opportunities, challenges, and strategies in partnership with Green Gold Animation, OTT Pulse will delve into the world of creating and distributing truly personalized content. “As we welcome the 4th edition of IndiaJoy, it gives me great pleasure that Green Gold Studios has contributed to bringing the best creators, producers, broadcasters, business and creative heads onto a single platform. IndiaJoy was established to celebrate the success of the industry, exhibit the talent within it and provide a space for the leaders of the AVCGI to deliberate the way forward. We have accomplished all that in our previous editions, and we look to continue building the event to encompass more ideas, individuals and technology.” said Rajiv Chilaka, Founder & MD, Green Gold Studios who is the man behind Chota Bheem.
OTT Pulse will be a part of inaugural event on this 16 November will have multiple panels and keynotes which will include representation from the leading digital platforms, such as NetFlix, Amazon Prime Video, Viu, VOOT, Aaha and ZEE5 among others.
‘India’s largest influencer convention’ that provides a platform for aspirants to connect with celebrity influencers and industry experts. Influencer Conference facilitates participants to meet, connect and showcase the best of the talents to national and international stakeholders of the industry. It is where production houses, motivational speakers, young aspiring artists gather to make a unified talent show where people can enjoy and get a chance to learn and inspire.
Al platform for animation content creators, studio executives, animators and students to gain insights from the leaders in creation, broadcasting and distribution. The animation sector is witnessing rapid growth, the congregation will see industry leaders, ace content creators and broadcasters from the Indian Animation industry sharing their insights into how to succeed in today’s dynamic and disruptive times.
The Indian Media and Entertainment industry is witnessing a new era of game-changing development and IndiaJoy will see pioneers from the sector sharing their insights. This edition of IndiaJoy is expecting international participants from more than 50+ countries and globally recognised, prominent AVGC and many tech giants are set to share advancements in new and emerging technologies.
The India Game Developer Conference (IGDC), an event for game developers is a major catalyst in enabling the growth of the Indian gaming ecosystem and sees enthusiastic participation from game developers, publishers, and investors each year. Its goal is to support and empower game developers with insights, upskilling, and networking opportunities in the presence of industry leaders and investors.
The event is expected to see attendance from around 10,000 people, 120+ industry experts, 100+ e-stalls, 30 publishers, and 30 investors. Unreal Engine will be the presenting sponsor and MPL and AWS will be the gold sponsors for the event.
Streaming platforms have lined up a string of interesting releases Here is a look at some of the films. Watch these new films from home
Sarpatta Parambarai is a period sports drama film directed by Pa Ranjith, who also co-produced the film under his banner Neelam Productions, along with Shanmugam Dhakshanaraj of K9 Studios.
The film stars Arya, Dushara Vijayan, Pasupathy, Anupama Kumar and Sanchana Natarajan. Set during the 1980s, the film revolves around a clash between two clans namely Idiyappa Parambarai and Sarpatta Parambarai in North Chennai, which also showcases the boxing culture in the locality and also the politics being involved in it.
Makers of Sarpatta Parambarai have opted for a direct-to-digital release, whose streaming rights were acquired by Amazon Prime Video. It is now scheduled to release through the streaming service on 22 July 2021, coinciding the Prime Day celebrations.
Narappa is a Telugu action drama film directed by Srikanth Addala. A remake of the Tamil film Asuran (2019) which is itself based on the novel Vekkai by Poomani, the film stars Venkatesh, Priyamani and Karthik Rathnam.
It is being jointly produced by Kalaipuli S Thanu and D Suresh Babu under their respective banners V Creations and Suresh Productions.Mani Sharma composed the film’s music. The film will be premiered on 20 July 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.
According to , producer Suresh Babu, “The film’s core message is very powerful. It does not shy away from the truths. I am certain that it will impact in ways that no one would expect. I am incredibly happy that we are able to showcase our film to audiences across 240 countries and territories.”
Hungama 2 is a Hindi romantic comedy film directed by Priyadarshan and jointly produced by Ratan Jain, Ganesh Jain, Chetan Jain and Armaan Ventures.
It is a remake of his own 1994 Malayalam film Minnaram and a spiritual successor to the 2003 film Hungama. The film stars Paresh Rawal, Shilpa Shetty, Meezaan Jaffrey and Pranitha Subhash. Hungama 2 marks the comebacks of Priyadarshan and Shilpa Shetty to Bollywood after eight years and 14 years respectively. The music of film was composed by Anu Malik while lyrics written by Sameer and Rani Malik.
Hungama 2 is scheduled to premiere on 23 July 2021 on Disney+ Hotstar.
SKY ROJO Season 2
The second season of Sky Rojo will land on Netflix on July 23. The high octane Spanish language original series, from the creator of Money Heist, strapped us into a full-throttle ride with Wendy, Coral, and Gina back in March. Now we are headed for the second leg of their journey.
“Our reunion with Gina, Coral, and Wendy will put us on a collision course with Romeo’s henchman Moisés and Christian, but no worries. That’s exactly what the trio want,” said Netflix in a statement.
“It’s hunt or be hunted in their world, and these women have decided they’re not hares; they’re foxes. The trio are out for blood and they plan to make everyone that hurt them pay. And, of course, get what’s theirs.”
TED LASSO Season 2
Ted Lasso is an American comedy streaming television series developed by Bill Lawrence, Jason Sudeikis, Joe Kelly, and Brendan Hunt, based on a character of the same name that Sudeikis first portrayed in a series of promos for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League. The series premiered with the first three episodes on Apple TV+ on August 14, 2020, and was renewed for a second season of 12 episodes five days after its premiere, which is scheduled to premiere on July 23, 2021.
In October 2020, the series was renewed for a third season.
THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER
After finding a trove of love letters from 1965, a reporter sets out to solve the mystery of a secret affair — while embarking on a romance of her own. This is the synopsis of The Last Letter From Your Lover starring Shailene Woodley,Felicity Jones,Callum Turner, which is to be premiered on Netflix on July 23.
The British romantic drama film based on Jojo Moyes’ 2012 novel of the same name. A young female journalist in contemporary London uncovers a series of love letters telling the story of an intensely romantic but star-crossed affair in the 1960s and becomes obsessed with discovering the lovers’ identities and finding out how their love story ends.
MURDER IN THE HILLS
The suspicious death of a yesteryear star of Bengali cinema threatens to expose the seedy underbelly of a serene Darjeeling is what Murder in the Hills is all about. The series premieres 23 July, on Hoichoi.
Starring Anindita Bose, Anjan Dutt and Arjun Chakrabarty in key roles, Anjan Dutt’s first Hoichoi web series is a dark murky tale that is set in the backdrop of he 1990s.
“Murder in The Hills is an extremely dark story filled with very complex characters, who are all contemporary and young. It’s violent, reeking in secrets, lies and scandals. The hills become very murky… where blood is shed and the violence of the past catch up with the present,” says Anjan.
HOSTEL DAZE Season 2
Hostel Daze is an Hindi comedy-drama streaming television miniseries created Saurabh Khanna and Abhishek Yadav. Directed Raghav Subbu, it stars Adarsh Gourav, Luv, Shubham Gaur, Nikhil Vijay and Ahsaas Channa in lead roles.
Hostel Daze premiered on Amazon Prime Video on 13 December 2019. And the second season will be out on the same platform on July 23.
The lead cast includes Adarsh Gourav, Luv Vispute and Ahsaas Channa,
KINGDOM: ASHIN OF THE NORTH
Kingdom: Ashin of the North is described as a sidequel of Kingdom (2019) season two and a backstory about the mysterious character Lee Chang’s group encountered on their journey to north to discover the origins of the infected.
The synopsis goes like this: As a side story to the Kingdom saga, Kingdom: Ashin of the North explores, reveals and explains the origins and synthesis of the resurrection plant and the mystery behind Ashin’s identity. This film revolves around and goes in-depth into the character of Ashin who was introduced at the end of the series’ finale.
It will be streamed on Netflix from July 24.
Jio Studios and Dinesh Vijan’s Mimi will have its world premiere on Jio Cinema and Netflix on July 30.
It is directed by Laxman Utekar, while story and screenplay is by Laxman Utekar and Rohan Shankar. Mimi is based on the original story by Samruddhi Porey.
A Maddock Films Original, the Kriti Sanon starrer movie also features the sublime Pankaj Tripathi and Sai Tamhankar. Looks this one’s a wholesome joyride that just can’t be missedm, says a statement from the makers.
Jio Studios’ social drama Puzhayamma is having a direct release on OTT platform Jio Cinema. Directed by Vijeesh Mani the movie stars Linda Arsenio and Baby Meenakshi.
The film is completely shot in a river. Puzhayamma, Based on river pollution, it is an environmental film.
The synopsis: Based on the friendship between a 13 year old girl Baby Meenakshi and an American tourist Linda Arsenio and the hurdles they had to face, when they tried to save a polluted river. The film is completely shot in a river, a first in world films statistics.
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.
Expanding Toonz’s global footprint and transforming it for new age viewing and learning in its 21st year, P Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz Animation Group, tells Pickle that how the Indian animation pioneer is spreading positivity through MyToonz OTT platform, online animation education arm Ri8Brain and partnership with studios globally
Despite COVID-19 pandemic impacting every aspect of life and business, for animation industry it has been an eventful year in terms of content consumption and global collaborations, bringing the world closer through technology and innovations, reveals P Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz Media Group
Toonz Media Group launched MyToonz during COVID-19 lockdown. How is it doing?
MyToonz is an exclusive OTT platform for kids and family entertainment launched by Toonz Media Group. Toonz has tied up with multiple app stores, tele-companies, OTTs and connected TV companies around the world to make MyToonz available to consumers across platforms.
The MyToonz app is now available on iOS, Android and Android TV playstores, as well as the Roku Video-on-Demand platform, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. We have tied up with mobile tech services company U2opia Mobile to integrate MyToonz on various telco platforms in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The MyToonz library includes over 1500 hours of content, with new content being added every week. The library includes movies and episodic content across different genres. Besides English, there are dedicated playlists in Spanish, Russian and Hindi languages.
The content on platform has been categorized to target pre-schoolers, upper pre-schoolers and early teens. The programming has also been carefully curated to provide quality entertainment to kids and families through fun, educational, safe, non-violent and environmentally sensitive content that celebrates diversity.
There has been a very encouraging response from the industry for MyToonz so far. We have received a lot of enquiries from catalogue owners for on-boarding content on to MyToonz. There has also been interest shown by localization companies wanting to collaborate on content localization.
We have been receiving enquiries from various content aggregators of telco platforms who are keen to get MyToonz onboarded on VAS/DCB/WAP platforms and portals. The response from CTV OEM companies has also been positive. The application has been on-boarded on quite a few CTV platforms.
Competing against Amazon Kids, Netflix and YouTube Kids is very challenging. At the same time we have over 40 OTT platforms in the domestic market and over 250 globally. What differentiates MyToonz from them?
Yes, there are several players in the OTT sector currently, but most of them are general platforms. Kids section is only a small part in these OTTs. MyToonz is more of a niche platform for kids and family entertainment.
We have created a dedicated space for kids and families within the OTT space, banking on our rich legacy and strong content portfolio. In fact, we are the first company of its kind from India to launch an exclusive OTT of kids.
MyToonz basically originates from the compelling need to create a safe and engaging entertainment destination for kids and families in the digital landscape. We have envisaged MyToonz as the go-to destination for kids to watch safe, fun and nutritious content, which will be available in multiple global languages.
It is a space where the whole family can come together to enjoy world-class content. All MyToonz programming is compliant with international safety standards for child viewing.
What has been the impact of COVID-19 in the animation space? While we are resilient, is there room to bridge the growth gap that we may have lost?
COVID has impacted every aspect of life and business today. Across industries, we can see the repercussions of the pandemic. With respect to the content, and animation industry in particular, it has been a rather eventful year since the pandemic started.
Content consumption has skyrocketed, and the demand for content has never been so pressing before. Especially in the kids entertainment space, with kids all over the world staying home, there has been an urgent need to keep them positively engaged. And content is now being seen as a source of not just entertainment but also education and inspiration.
We can safely say that because of this demand, the kids entertainment industry has been largely immune compared to other industries that have had to bear the brunt of the pandemic. We definitely have no dearth of work or business. But that said, it is also important to note that developing and creating content in these restrictive circumstances is a real challenge.
At Toonz, our studios obviously had to be shut for a while owing to government and public health protocols. However, there were production deadlines and other commitments to meet. So, we took up a massive asset transfer operation to shift the machines of our artists from the studios to their homes.
We are striving hard to ensure that none of our projects are affected by the situation. We have a well formulated business continuity plan in place, so we are prepared to meet any unforeseen disruption.
In terms of growth, prior to the pandemic we had a healthy year-on-year growth rate of 25-30%. Our expectations for 2020 were naturally very high. But owing to the pandemic our growth projections had to be curtailed. However, we did not go into the negative rate of growth.
Even though there has been no loss of business, there were some project delays mostly owing to remote working and disruption in creative collaboration. There have been some cashflow issues too.
One of the major areas that got affected is our live action studio Telegael. However, we are positive that we will bounce back with our new ventures Ri8Brain – an e-learning platform, and a health app for kids that we are developing.
Toonz has always been an innovator. You adapt quickly according to the curation needs. What are some of the new visual innovations in the animation space today?
We basically adapt and innovate based on the requirements of the script and our co-production partners. We try to make each of our projects unique in terms of visual treatment and aesthetics.
The idea is to follow and adapt the latest trends internationally and also take inspiration from Indian folk arts and legends, depending on the treatment of the story. For example, we recently developed a new show for ETV’s newly launching kids channel, which has Madhubani art motifs throughout. For another movie called A Many Splintered Thing, we followed a graphic novel kind of treatment.
In terms of improving the technical aspects of our shows and films, we keep ourselves up-to-date with the latest technological tools in animation, especially CGI. We currently use V-Ray and Arnold, which is the latest render engine available for 3D animation. We are soon going to include in our pipeline game engines like Unreal and Unity to achieve real-time rendering.
Toonz has been a regular visitor to major global animation markets. How has been your collaboration experience? Has the global market satisfied you (as a delegate) in providing platforms to engage in business?
As far as the distribution side of the business is concerned, the pandemic has caused a notable disruption. With all the major markets and conferences going virtual, most of the business interactions are happening over video calls and online pitches. We did alter our sales and marketing strategy to remain agile with the changing trends in the market, both with respect to content preferences and reinventing our marketing tools and processes.
Toonz’s distribution wing, Imira Entertainment, is one of Europe’s leading production and distribution companies based out of Madrid. Imira specializes in kids and youth programming with focus on the European, US, Latin American, Asian and African markets. Apart from our own IPs and co-productions, we have a vast catalogue of titles, across genres that we offer in these markets.
Many of these titles are available in multiple language dubs. Our distribution and sales teams have strong relationships with broadcasters and OTTs alike. We have regional sales teams with unparalleled relationships and knowledge to cater to specific markets. Being a well-recognized brand we are often able to close pre-sales of our productions much before the shows are released.
The pandemic has essentially compelled us to think global in every aspect. Even though physically we might be forced to stay put at home, from a practical point of view, it has brought the world closer through collaboration and technology.
The virtual markets definitely do not have the charm or convenience of physical events. But there are some obvious benefits in terms of markets become truly global and accessible, and the budget savings. A lot of innovation has gone behind creating virtual markets. But it might be too premature to evaluate them or even compare them to physical markets. But as an industry, we are trying to make the most of the situation.
Do you see a need for physical meetings going forward? Or a mix of physical and digital…
It is going to be a mix of physical and digital.
What are the focus areas of Toonz Animation Studios in these challenging times?
The highpoint for Toonz in the past year has been the wonderful collaborations we were able to make with some of the biggest names in kids entertainment. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Toonz has been able to forge partnerships for new projects from across the globe from illustrious creators like Keith Chapman, Olivier Jean-Marie, James Driscoll and Janet Hubert.
We also entered into partnerships for new shows with some great studios and production houses such as Italy’s Rainbow S.p.A and London-based Nucleus Media Rights.
We are co-producing highly anticipated animation features with leading production houses like Highland Films, Exodus Film Group and Cinema Management Group. With the latter we are co-producing the first ever English animation feature of Oscar Wilde’s popular short story ‘The Canterville Ghost’. All in all, Toonz has been able to strengthen its global clientele in 2020, garnering opportunities to produce specialized, high quality content.
In the last one year, Toonz Animation produced 5,000 minutes of 2D and 3,000 minutes of 3D animation content. We have in our pipeline several exciting projects. And we are proud to say that all of them have extremely diverse and relevant content that uphold universal values. Like I said earlier, we are collaborating with many renowned creators, like Keith Chapman with whom we are doing an interactive pre-school series titled Paddypaws & Pals.
Another one is a value-oriented show called JG & the BC Kids in partnership with veteran American actress Janet Hubert. The show, which inspires kids to embrace differences, is also entirely driven by a multi-cultural team.
Another marquee project currently under production at Toonz is Sunny-side Billy, a very colorful and upbeat 2D animation pre-school series about fun and positivity.
The creative heads behind this project are none other than celebrated animators like Olivier Jean-Marie and Jan Van Rijsselberge of Oggy and the Cockroaches and Robotboyfame. We are co-producing this series in association with the French studio Tractor.
Toonz is also partnering with Russia’s oldest and most prestigious studio Soyuzmult for a brand new alien CGI called Aliens in my backpack. This project comes from Rob Lee and James Driscoll, creators of BAFTA nominated World Award winning titles like The Shoe People.
Apart from that, we also recently signed up with major US girl-centric, STEM-focused toycoGoldieblox to develop an animated series titled Glodlieblox and Friends. This MIPTV season we are also launching in the market season one of the pre-school series Zoonicorn, based on the famous plush toy brand of the same name.
You have been a major supporter of small and medium animation outlets. What damages have they suffered due to the pandemic? How do we bring them back to the fold?
For small studios cashflow had been a major problem these past months. Many had to be either shut down and go for steep salary cuts to keep themselves afloat. The situation has been more or less the same for small businesses in all other industries, and not just animation. However, we have tried to support those studios that have been our long-time partners and those that delivered high quality work to us.
We have gone that extra mile by relaxing payment norms so that their cashflow issue could be eased a bit. But there is a limit to which we can support small studios at this level. At a larger level, we have been lobbying in industry and trade bodies as well as approaching government authorities to develop schemes to support small studios.
There is no running away from the fact that small businesses have borne the brunt of this pandemic. In the case of animation, the pressure has been tremendous on smaller studios to stay afloat.
Even as vaccination is being rolled out globally, how can we protect jobs in the animation space during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Talent has always been a key aspect for this industry, and nurturing and grooming new talent remains a priority. As mentioned before, there is no dearth of business or opportunities in the content creation industry owing to the pandemic.
Jobs are there and new jobs are being created across the board. In the post-pandemic era, we foresee a greater demand for artists and creative professionals who can swiftly adapt to changing circumstances.
There would be a higher demand for professionals who not only have a keen sense of creativity but are also constantly upskilling their knowledge of relevant technology. This includes areas like CGI animation, application-based animations for sectors like film making, entertainment media production, edutainment, gaming, medicine, defense, VR/AR, architecture, interior design and commercials.
Toonz spearheaded the launch of an online learning platform dedicated to animation and creative arts in order to mould new talents in the field. Can you share some of the details?
Ri8Brain is an online education arm of Toonz Media Group, dedicated to learning of creative art forms. Ri8Brain is a highly agile ed-tech initiative that aims to redefine the traditional pedagogy. This online platform focuses on collaborative teaching, providing greater impetus to hands-on, experience-based quality learning for early starters as well as seasoned learners. Ri8Brain will carry over the legacy of Toonz Academy, with a modern and technological twist to it.
The vision of Ri8Brain is to transform the lives of creative minds and artists across the world by honing their talent and upskilling them.
The techno-creative industry is booming globally, and with the right skill set and talent, one can pursue a very rewarding and creatively satisfying career in this industry. This is exactly what Ri8Brain will be facilitating for aspirants.
Ri8Brain works in two modes: Explore – for early starters; and Excel courses – for amateur artists, aspiring creative professionals as well as young and experienced professionals.
India has not been able to scale up to capture the global animation stories market. We are still at the tip of the iceberg. What do you think we lack and what will make us a global player in this market?
I think what we lack primarily is the skill of global storytelling as well as exposure. If you look at Hollywood or other Western industries, they take very simple concepts with universal themes and values and then market it amazingly. Their stories transcend boundaries and have global appeal.
I think that is what is lacking here and perhaps that is what we should do in order to scale up and strengthen our global footprint in animation. However, this needs to be done not just for animation, which is part of a larger ecosystem.
Even for live action, we largely see highly localized content that would not fit into the context of a global audience. To say it plainly, we are not exactly making films for global consumption. And I don’t think that is an anomaly. Just that if our aim is to create global hits, our storytellers need to tell stories which have universal appeal.
Also countries like the US have a history of 100 years in animation, whereas our industry is just over two decades old. So it may not be entirely fair to compare. However, we will reach there soon.
The Indian animation industry is very robust and fast growing. We have scaled up significantly in the last two decades. We progressed from an outsourcing destination to an IP creating industry. It is only a matter of time that we conquer the global arena.
Toonz’ Animation Masters Summit has brought together some of the brightest minds all these years. How has the Animation Masters Summit 2021 digital edition shaped?
Animation Masters Summit (AMS) 2021 will be held from May 4 to May 8. This time again, we are conducing it virtually because of the prevailing circumstances. In the 2020 edition, we had the privilege of having some of the biggest and brightest stars in the industry as speakers.
We had masters like Disney editor Fabienne Rawley (Zootopia); veteran Indian cinematographer Ravi K Chandran (Virasat, Dil Chahta Hai, Black, Kannathil Muthamittal, etc); renowned Bollywood composer Shantanu Moitra (Parineeta, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Lage Raho Munnabhai, etc.); and Quentin Staes-Polet, gaming expert and General Manager India and SEA, Epic Games.
This time again we have a stellar speaker line-up that includes legendary ad guru Rahul daCunha, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Meg LeFauve (Inside Out, Captain Marvel, My Father’s Dragon), licensing and merchandising master Jiggy George, Hollywood music composer Vidjay Beerpot and award-winning animation director and producer Saraswathi Balgam.
The theme for the 2021 edition is ‘Embracing Diversity: Finding Beauty in Our Differences.’ We will also have two panel discussions—one on diversity in content and the industry—and the other around education technology and the scope of animation in e-learning.
Beginning its journey in 2008 on Pogo, Chhota Bheem and its different avatars have transcended cultural and geographical boundaries to gain love and acceptance from an audience of over 100 million and growing
By Rajiv Chilaka Founder & CEO, Green Gold Animation
Chhota Bheem’s journey to the small screen was by no means an easy one. I realised the huge opportunity in our country for original Indian Kids IP content. Chhota Bheem was an idea conceptualized in 2004 itself. The industry at that time was not open to many ideas and the scope of an indigenous IP was minimal. But the potential was there to be tapped into. I truly believed that kids would connect with and love a character that they could relate to and thus decided to focus on creating IP content for Indian audience.
Multiple pitches and numerous iterations later, we finally got the green signal from Pogo to create the Chhota Bheem show in 2007. Looking back today, the amazing love and acceptance shown by kids towards Bheem makes the arduous journey worth every moment. The love for the show ensured that Chhota Bheem never went off air in India since its pilot episode. It resulted in a decade of Bheem entertaining kids in different avatars, the latest of which is Mighty Little Bheem. The franchise today has an audience of over 100 million and growing.
I have always believed that the love for Bheem is universal but Mighty Little Bheem was the litmus test. We put our heart and soul in creating Mighty Little Bheem. It was a departure for us as well from our conventional projects as it was our first preschool show. The entire creation process has been a brilliant rollercoaster and an eye opener for us. Creating a non-dialogue music driven show that transcended cultural and geographical boundaries has been a revelation.
Little Bheem became the top pre-school title globally on Netflix. It is performing well in US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and other territories. Bheem today is a loving part of homes across 190 countries.
Chhota Bheem, the brand, has been growing for the last decade. When we realized the popularity of Bheem, we also realized that kids wanted to have a personal Bheem, thus started our merchandising journey. From a few comics and products, we have grown our presence to exclusive retail, modern trade, ecommerce as well as licensing. With over 100 brands partnering with us over the last decade, Chhota Bheem has consistently been among the most recognized and recalled kids brand in India.
And it all started in Hyderabad. The city is the hub for visual arts and animation, and it will soon have its IMAGE tower, a beautiful amalgamation of history, modern design and technology. Animation, Gaming and Visual Fx industries thrive on creative and technology ecosystems. The world-class tower provides a vibrant environment for the AVGC industry. The Telangana Government dedicated IMAGE policy on the industry will empower young and talented entrepreneurs to foray further and compete with the best projects worldwide.
The animation and the VFX segment witnessed a strong growth of 18.7% in FY19, to reach a size of Rs. 87.7 billion. The sector will grow at a CAGR of 16% between FY19 and FY24 and reach Rs. 184 billion. What is extremely heartening to know is that the Indian Animation IP production (excluding animation services) has a year-on-year double digit growth: almost double of what it was in 2012. With a population of 373 million between ages of 1-14 in India itself, this trend will only improve upon in the coming years.
Even though 70-80% of animation revenue in India comes from international projects, India’s share in the global industry is less than 1%. Immense potential is here. With the advent of OTT, the average content consumption in India has gone up from 450 hours a year, to almost 6000+ hours a year in the last 5 years. Animation has had a big role to play here. The success of Mighty Little Bheem and other Indian IPs globally has proven the importance of region agnostic content and the caliber of home grown IPs. I believe this is the right time to move forward and take our rightful place in the global animation industry.
The ease of access to global content has evolved the audiences taste and raised the standards for all creators. The quality and the ability of it to connect across regions is paramount. Keeping this in mind, we have set up our offices in Los Angeles to focus on and create IPs with global potential and appeal. The team, led by Mr. Marc Lumer, a veteran of the industry and illustrator extraordinaire, is creating IPs which are presently in various stages of production. The world is becoming a smaller place. And there is so much potential to do stories which are from India, of Indian stories.
OTT platforms like Netflix are already working with Indian producers to develop original IPs and acquire content which have strong Indian connect. Graphiti’s shows Krish, Trish and Baltiboy and Yom have been acquired by Netflix and released not just in English but also in Chinese, Korean, Turkish and Polish language.
By Munjal Shroff Director & COO, Graphiti Multimedia
Why should we partner with Indian Animation Studios? That’s the most obvious question many international producers interested in partnering with Indian studios would ask themselves. Indian animation studios have already established their credentials as a strong production partner with proven track record, but there is a lot more to Indian animation industry then just cost arbitrage. Let’s scratch the surface and look closely at some of the other factors that underscore Indian animation studios as a very strong partner to develop and co-produce original IPs.
Animation in India started with the first Indian animated short film, Aagkadyanchi Mouj (Matchstick’s Fun), produced in 1915 by Dadasaheb Phalke! This was barely two years after he produced India’s first feature film in 1913, Raja Harishchandra. Phalke is considered as the Father of Indian Cinema.
Origin of animation in India can be traced further back as far as 5th century BC where scroll paintings and later shadow puppets were used to narrate stories. In fact, in the ancient times storytelling was a well-established profession. India has a very rich literature with thousands of stories, mythologies and epics beyond the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Apart from stories, there are hundreds of rich and diverse schools of paintings, graphics folk arts and even varied puppet styles as well. Stories and art are in the DNA of Indian artist.
At India’s premiere animation studio Graphiti, we are passionate about our rich artistic heritage. We decided very early to tap into our rich heritage to develop our own shows-our IP. We chose to bring alive the world of colour, art and stories through our unique movie series Krish, Trish and Baltiboy, recipient of the Audience Choice Award at 2011’s CMS Children’s Film Festival. Our 40+ million viewers on Cartoon Network India just love the show.
India has a very rich mythology with well renowned epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. The challenge with these epics is that they have a religious context which may not have a global appeal as buyers refrain from buying kids’ content with any religious tones. The key is to filter that out, develop fun characters and engaging stories with a lot of playfulness, drama and some intrigue and create something fresh which the global audience can enjoy even without having any cultural context.
In 2009, Cartoon Network shorts program SNAPTOONS cherry picked three Indian studios—Miditech, Famous and Graphiti—to co-develop three shows: Sulochana and Nature Detectives, Johnny Goes to Bollywood and Kul Veera. The shorts produced were then screened across all the Cartoon Network Channels in Asia Pacific to gauge the audience reaction. Graphiti’s Kul Veera was the top rated shorts out of the 15 shorts produced by various studios of APAC. Kul Veera is a gripping fast paced, original story with characters from the Mahabharata and some new ones as well. The action, the choreography, the 3D animation is fabulous and featured great performancesas well, it is tightly scripted and has a global appeal.Kul Veera was packaged for the international market, it featured top voice talent from Hollwood including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
Yoga is India’s biggest gift to the world and a global trend, and yet it still not been explored enough in the kids’ space. So Graphiti tapped into Yoga and gave it a unique superhero spin to create Yom. Yom follows the adventures of a brash young boy who gets animal-based superpowers by performing…yoga poses. Yom was developed in close association with Disney and was released on Disney Channel India in 2018, garnering high ratings and critical acclaim.
Bollywood films have been gaining global audiences and Indian producers are capitalizing on this trend and producing shows inspired and based on characters from hit Bollywood films. In 2004 Graphiti co-produced with Nickelodeon the award winning live action cum animated series J Bole Toh Jadoo, based on the licensed character Jadoo from the hit Bollywood film Koi Mil Gaya. In fact Nick re-launched the channel in India with this show. The trend continues today with Fukkrey Boyzz and Little Singham on Discovery Kid and Golmaal Jr on Nick’s Channel Sonic.
OTT platforms like Netflix are already working with Indian producers to develop original IPs and acquire content which have strong Indian connect.
Graphiti’s shows Krish, Trish and Baltiboy and Yom have been acquired by Netflix and released not just in English but also in Chinese, Korean, Turkish and Polish language. This clearly shows that these shows are being also served to a global audience and not just English language audience.
Recently, the Indian show Mighty Little Bheem produced by Green Gold Animation became the second most popular Netflix Kids Original.
Some of the Indian studios have been producing high-end animated TV commercials for global brands such as Kellogg’s, Pepsi, Coke, Pillsbury Doughboy and Cheetos. Veteran American producer Joanna Ferrone, creator of iconic characters such as Angela Anaconda and Fido Dido, partnered with Graphiti to give Fido a contemporary make over. We worked closely to re-imagine Fido as a 3D character and produce a series of shorts—Fido Xtreme Shorts. This rejuvenated the brand and boosted the character licensing of Fido.
The domestic Indian market is massive and growing rapidly. Even the licensing market in India is growing rapidly as expendable income is increasing across the spectrum of the population. The Government is now working closely with the animation, VFX and the gaming industry, and is planning various schemes such as co-production funds, signing co-production treaties and launching a public kids broadcasting channel. All these factors will benefit any co-production that is done with Indian Studios.
Studios like Technicolor have already setup captive facilities to tap into the Indian talent pool. Indian studios growing breed of talented artists, animators, directors, writers, designers and storytellers are exploring the plethora of unique Indian art, culture and stories, this certainly makes the future of Indian animation and storytelling even brighter. This is what the international producers needs to and partner with Indian studios and develop original IP for the global market.
Screenwriter Meg LeFauve, Music composer Vidjay Beerepoot, Licensing and Merchandising expert Jigy George, Advertising veteran Rahul daCunha & Writer, director & creative producer Vani Saraswathi Balgam are the five ‘masters’ for the Animation Masters Summit 2021 edition organised by Toonz Media Group
Masters of animation industry will share their thoughts and speak their mind out at the 2021 edition of Animation Masters Summit.
Screenwriter Meg LeFauve, Music composer Vidjay Beerepoot, Licensing and Merchandising expert Jigy George, Advertising veteran Rahul daCunha and Writer, director and creative producer Vani Saraswathi Balgam are the five ‘masters’ for the 2021 edition.
Oscar nominated, Annie Award-winning screenplay writer Meg LeFauve holds the writing credits for some of the most popular animation features of our times. Marvel’s blockbuster Captain Marvel, Pixar hits Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur to name just a few.
Meg began her film career as a producer and President of Egg Pictures, where she produced Emmy and Golden Globe nominated films. A storyteller par excellence, Meg has taught at the American Film Institute and served as co-chair of the Graduate Producers Program at University of California’s School of Film and Television, where she taught master level story and development classes for several years.
Vidjay Beerpoot is the man behind the soulful score of the new animation feature Ainbo and the edgy soundscape of Netflix’s The Little Vampire 3D.
Adopted from India and brought up in the Netherlands, Vidjay has gone through an interesting creative journey through different cultures all the way to Hollywood. Today, based in Los Angeles, he composes music for movies, TV shows and video games all over the world, including for Disney, Netflix, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, Sony and Nickelodeon.
Jiggy George began his career as a designer and then went on to work with some of the top media and entertainment brands, right from MTV and Pogo to Viacom and Times of India.
Throughout his career, Jiggy George deftly balanced the ‘ying’ and ‘yang’ of creativity and commerce, achieving what very few in the industry can boast of – an undying passion for creativity, coupled with a nuanced understanding of management. Today, Jiggy is a successful entrepreneur and founder of Dream Theatre, one of India’s leading brand management and licensing companies.
From award-winning commercials to the country’s longest running ad campaign, ad man Rahul daCunha’s portfolio is formidable, to say the least. Working with some of the biggest and oldest brands in India, Rahul mastered the art of snugly positioning brands in the public psyche through immensely relatable, riveting campaigns.
Most notable being the campaign for Amul, widely adored for its subtle, superbly-timed social commentary. But advertising is only one side of this creative genius. As a theatre artist, Rahul has worked on some avant-garde productions as a director and playwright. His plays have travelled across the world from Australia to USA.
Vani Saraswathi Balgam started associating with the animation industry at a time when the rest of us would have just started watching animation. Thanks to her dad, who started an independent 2D animation studio out of their home, Vani grew up in an exhilarating creative environment throughout her childhood.
Starting with painting, photography and amateur film-making as a teenager, she went on to establish a successful career in animation. She worked as the Head of Creative Management for DreamWorks Animation in Shanghai and as Executive Director of Rhythm & Hues studio in India. She managed the teams of artists and technicians that created the VFX and digital characters in Academy Award- winning movies like Life of Pi, The Golden Compass and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Organised by Toonz Media Group, the virtual Summit will be held from May 4 to 8, 2021, over the Zoom platform.
At the inaugural session, the welcome speech will be delivered by P Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz Media Group. This will be followed by a keynote address by filmmaker and founder of Whistling Woods Films Institute Subash Ghai.
Then comes the felicitation and AMS Awards declaration by Ashish Kulkarni, FICCI Chairman for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic Forum.
Prof Nina Sabnani, winner of the Legend of Indian Animation Award at Animation Masters Summit 2021 and Ketan Mehta, winner of Special Contribution to Indian Animation Industry Award for his overall contributions to the industry, will deliver the acceptance speech.
On Day 2, the Ed Tech panel discussion to start at 10 am IST will have Ashish Kulkarni as moderator. The panelists are Dhimant Vyas, Chief Creative Director, Byjus, Dr M Srinivasan, Founder, GEAR Foundation, Prerna Jhunjhunwala, Founder, Little Paddington and Creative Galileo and Sasikumar Pillai, Executive Director, Toonz Education Services. From 11.30, there will be an in conversation session with Rahul daCunha.
While Day 3 will have an in conversation session with MegLeFauve and session by Jiggy George, Day 4 will have sessions by Vidjay Beerepoot and Vani Saraswathi Balgam.
On the last day of the summit, there will be an AWN panel discussion. Dan Sarto will be the moderator, and Monica Lago Kaytis, Co-Founder, Rise Up Animation, Bryan Dimas, LatinX in Animation, LXiA Co-Founder and Co-Director, Jinko Gotoh, Vice President, Women in Animation and Mansi Darbar-VP, Corporate Strategy and Development, IN10 Media will be the panelists. This will be followed by Ri8brain launch.
Animation Masters Summit (AMS) is an annual event celebrated by Toonz Media Group, a leading name in animation and Kids & Family Entertainment. Established in 1999 as the first ever animation event in India called “Week with the Masters”, it was recently renamed as Animation Masters Summit (AMS).
Animation Masters Summit celebrates the beautiful art of animation, bringing talents and experts from around the global animation Industry to interact with aspiring young talents. The event also offers a platform for masters to offer inspirations and insights on what it takes to create, connect and drive engaging content in this invigorating new entertainment era.
Now that the Government of India has opened business visas for overseas companies to travel into the country, global film producers and studios with Film Visa are exploring options to come and film in India. The aviation restrictions have been lifted for foregin business travellers and companies into India.
Already, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has announced guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for film shooting and media production in the country. Various State governments have also issued SOPs for film shooting in their respective States detailing dos and don’ts aligning with prevailing local Covid conditions.
Film Visa, a special category for foreign filmmakers, producers and crew members to shoot in India was introduced in 2017 on the initiation by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
Dilip Singh Rathore, India’s most successful Line Producer for leading Hollywood Studios and European filmmakers, confirmed to Pickle that global producers are “expediting the process” to film in India in the new scenario of opening business to overseas companies.
Rathore’s On the Road Productions was the line producer for Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ (Produced by Warner Bros’) for filming portions of the movie in Mumbai.
“We are constantly getting calls over the last two days on filming in India,” says Rathore. “Interest in film in India is top in the radar of global producers. I am very optimistic that foreign film projects which were stalled in the beginning of the year will soon get activated.”
Italian filmmaker and producer Sergio Scapagnini is soon set to shoot in India for the new India-Italy co-produced film directed by Goutham Ghose. UK-based Collin Burrows of Film Treats Production is looking to film in India for forthcoming projects. Late last year, Paramount Pictures had announced producing web series ‘The Bear’ for Apple TV to be shot in Madhya Pradesh. The Hollywood project was based on a bestseller novel by Gregory David Roberts ‘Shantaram’.
Business visits among global production houses are also likely to pick up in the coming days as India offers cost effective solutions for animation, VFX and gaming verticals of the Media and Entertainment industry. Major Indian production companies have strengthened their remote servicing capabilities in animation, VFX and digital intermediaries for collaboration.
Film Facilitation Office (FFO), set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), is currently accepting online applications for foreign producers to shoot in India.
FFO which was set up with a view to promote and facilitate film shootings by foreign filmmakers in India has also been extended to Indian filmmakers as well.
In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Indian film locales have captured the attention of global producers and viewers. Mira Nair’s TV series ‘A Suitable Boy’, a six-episode, 349-minute long series, adapted from Vikram Seth’s classic novel, was extensively shot in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, India. It is currently streamed on Netflix across the world and BBC One (in UK and Ireland). Netlflix’s action thriller ‘Extraction’ starring Chris Hemsworth was filmed in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Netflix has revealed that ‘Extraction’ tops the list in its 10 most-watched original movies of all time, as of today.
Another leading line producer stated that in recent times Film Visas have streamlined foreign film shooting in India. “Quick visa clearances for the foreign crew is one of the reasons why more foreign filmmakers are coming to shoot in India. For shooting in India, foreign filmmakers have to get clearance from the I&B Ministry. The Ministry officials coordinate with the Indian embassies abroad, and help in getting visa clearances faster. “Over 118 international films have been shot in the last four years and the FFO has been offering all support to filmmakers to shoot in India.