Friday, 20 November 2015

“We need to tell our own stories”

CEO Dr Shravan Kumar emphasizes the importance of ethnic content

What came first?The egg or the chicken?
A similar question is always posed for most problems and queries across the world.

Is the product more important? Is marketing more important?
Is the distribution important? Or can a film/content ride on its own legs using a digital platform?
Do we need to follow trends? Or how can we continuously create trends?
Do we have our own style? Or go with one that brings you instant fame or commercial success?

These are universal questions. They apply as much to any business -- as they apply to children’s films. Which is what our open forums have addressed in the last few days through our meets with government, jury, film makers, media and the audience at the 19th ICFFI 2015.

Festival Director Dr Shravan Kumar with the Telangana Jury

I am a firm believer of getting the basics right. To me, that means telling our stories and our content in the most authentic manner. It means finding our own voice, our own style and not be worried about where the world is progressing. My belief has been proved right with Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya which we produced and created not in the western Disney and Cartoon Network style – but in our own format.

We did market it – sent it out to film festivals and upped the ante to how far we could push the screen. The results were delightful. So much so, that we were given a red carpet invite to TIFF Kids in Toronto, where most people pay to show their films. We even won an award, following which it was easier to get audiences to see it both at home and abroad.

What that one experience re-affirmed to me is that story telling is universal but marketing needs to be both global and then local. The experience of this film brought many lessons in fore and perhaps a winning formula too of creating a film, winning awards and allowing the great content to be visible.
In that format, digital platform and events like film festivals like ICFFI and NCFF both have a strong role to play side by side. While our content goes abroad and depicts our language, customs and heroes – and this is possible with the play on digital –we also find the digital platform and events play a strong part in enhancing visual literacy of our own children.

Moments of our childhood are encapsulated in story telling sessions by our grandparents, uncle, aunts and parents. They were key to our growing as we heard the narrative. Now it’s time as we live in nuclear families, we also expose our children to the visual narrative by allowing them to watch meaningful content… of meaningful Indian content!

Which is why this biennial celebration of children’s films is so close to my heart and we knock on every door possible to garner support and eyeballs for it – so it reaches the end consumer – the children who are growing way too fast! 

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