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36th IFFI: The Big Picture Day 2– Co-production and finance the way ahead

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36th IFFI: The Big Picture Day 2– Co-production and finance the way ahead

The second day of CII's 'India – The Big Picture' conference, held on the eve of the 36th International Film Festival of India in Goa, took off from yesterday's rather invigorating sessions. Setting the tone for the day's proceeding Bollywood actress, Amisha Patel, spoke on how Indian film talent was making waves in many international markets.

She pointed out the popularity on Hindi and regional films in the Asian and the English speaking markets abroad. Patel also mentioned that for Indian talent to be able to truly go global, like many of our filmmakers like Shekhar Kapur, Gurinder Chadha have already done, should also continue to focus on showcasing our intrigue values like the songs, dance and our traditional films. Given more budgets and much superior technology India can definitely compete on international levels.

Next speaker was Amit Khanna, President of Film and TV Producers Guild of India. He presented interesting facts of the Indian economy growing at more than 7 per cent per annum, a growth not many countries have managed to do achieve. Even with all the political diversites, we still are the world's largest democracy.

"As is known, the 15-30 age group is the largest consumer of media and it is estimated that that in the year 2020, 70 per cent of our population would be below 25 years of age. These statistics actually shake up people in this business around the world," Khanna said.

He continued, "Last year, according to the Guild's report, 3.8 billion people watched an Indian film, whereas only 3.4 billion watched an Hollywood film, but despite this, Hollywood is a $600 billion industry, while our Indian industry is a mere $6 billion despite there being a larger audience base, which is surprising. This is because we lack marketing base and finesse, which Hollywood has acquired over the years. We need to play our strokes with a little bit of flair. There are two big changes in the field of Intellectual Property Rights and Internet Protocol looking just right the corner and these will change the entire entertainment space here."

Minister for Culture and Urban Development, Jaipal Reddy, spoke at length on the government's role in making the Indian entertainment sector a global player. He said, "Our lives are getting deeply influenced by rapid and incessant technological change. Though these changes have been affecting our lives since the 18 th century, now we are addicted to change and, therefore, changes in the filed of cinema are going to be even more rapid like Digital cinema. This is tool and a choice one would have to decide how much and what one wants to do with these changes. And the economy and the entertainment sector is growing because of huge infrastructure developments that have been made. The potential of entertainment sector is vast and we could achieve as much in this sector as we have in the IT and fortunately the two have been converged," he added.

Reddy gave examples of how DD's DTH was the only free DTH in the world and the government's efforts of forming co-production treaties with other countries like Italy and UK. He concluded his speech by saying that the government was taking steps in urbanising the country, and this was going to fuel growth for the film industry.

The first Plenary session was on 'Better exploitation, higher realisations.. it's all about money!' The speakers included Richard Soames, President, Film Finances Inc (USA); T C Venkatsubramaniam, Chairman & MD, EXIM Bank; J Balakrishnan, Executive Director, IDBI Bank; and Sunir Kheterpal, Country Head-Entertainment & Media Banking, YES Bank.

The session was chaired by Saurabh Srivastava, Executive Chairman, Xana India Ltd. Srivastava remarked that venture capital (VC) today was $2 billion in India and we are the world's top three destinations in the world as far as VC is concerned. This has a huge implication on the entertainment industry, which like software and technology has the potential to grow to global levels.

He added, "There needs to be a huge emphasis on making money in the entire value chain and also be transparent. The Indian film industry will have to do many things by itself like setting up copy-write laws, training institutes and so on. And this will lead to its further growth."

Venkatsubramaniam explained EXIM Bank's initiative in promoting film exports like promotion of Indian movies in Latin America and East Europe in addition to the traditional overseas markets.

Balakrishnan touched on the topic of debt financing in film industry and mentioned that IDBI Bank had invested Rs 350-400 crore and that over 50 films had been successful. Kheterpal, too, took the onus of explaining the role of financing for the film entertainment industry and spoke on the lines of debt and equity.

The last session, the valedictory Plenary session, was on 'Co-production treaties – The way forward'. The speakers included Massimo Baraldi-Dirigente from the Italian ministry; Rino Picolo, who represented the Association of Italian Film Commission; Sirish Malde, Partner, Malde & Co (UK); Lee Stone, Lee & Thomson (UK); and Nobert Preuss, a German film producer. Sunit Tandon, General Manger, NFDC, chaired the session.

The panelist at large spoke of the benefits a co-produced movie could get in terms of finances and talent availability. Jointly, they all believed that more and more movies should be co-produced as this would be the way ahead for growth.

Many international producers have shown interest in coming to India and making movies here, the latest example being that of 'Shadows of Time', produced by Nobert Preuss.


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