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Shake ’em up!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The failure of Action Replayy – big banner, big director, big budget, big stars – is a study in what not to do. To put it simply, don’t sell what you don’t have. Anyway, filching from a very interesting Facebook exchange, but also giving credit where it is due – the discussion started with filmmaker Hansal Mehta posting, “it is time that film publicity strategies are revisited and heavily pruned. Producers, exhibitors and stars need to look beyond weekend 'initials'.

Lesser, but smarter publicity will not deter audiences from watching a good film. A level-playing ground for all kinds of films will ensure better recoveries and rational budgets. At this rate more and more producers/studios will stop making films and go broke very soon.”

Which is a very valid point – filmmakers spend money on pushing a film to get weekend initials, and then most films sink anyway. Instead of spending on acquiring good content, that might actually pay dividends – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is investing in talent and his idea may actually be the way to go in the future.

Writer and filmmaker Charudutt Acharya had this to say on FB ant it makes perfect sense too: “Frill-free cinema halls with ticket prices that are genuinely affordable for smaller budget movies at least. Those who like red seats and watch films with their legs above their head...most welcome. But let’s please have a choice! We need cutting chai distribution and exhibition system! Paying 'a face' 30 lakhs in a one crore movie is A BAD idea. Writers be given crash courses in production and its costs and learn to actually write for a budget. Then we start having big and rich films at no shoes budgets too. We can learn from UK's 'Microwave' film project.”

Film London’s Microwave, launched in 2006, was a micro-budget scheme to commission debut feature filmmakers. Microwave challenged filmmakers to shoot a full length feature film for up to £100,000 with cash and in-kind support. According to their website, “The scheme provides an intensive approach to filmmaking, with an emphasis on tightly focused scripts, short production schedules and commercial potential. It is open to filmmakers working in fiction, animation, and to artists working with the moving image.

“Support commences with Microschool, an intensive four-day programme of seminars, workshops, screenings and script surgeries covering everything from development through to sales and distribution. The teams are then provided with unique professional mentoring from leading industry figures. Film London and its partners also offer a range of assistance including in-kind support from leading facilities and service companies, competitive location fees from many of London's local authorities, and a 'revenue share' model which will return a generous percentage of any revenue back to the filmmakers.

“Completed projects will have a theatrical window before being broadcast on the BBC. All filmmaking teams are given professional and tailored marketing and sales advice, giving them a head start in the international marketplace.”

How come none of our big producers and corporates have thought of this? The National Film Development Corporation did try a variation, with their Film Lab, but nothing much seems to have come of it.

In the end, it seems pointless paying stars huge amounts of money, spend even more on lavish production values, and a bomb on promotion, only to find that people come to see a good story!

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