The producers are hoping they would fulfil their promises, to give the much needed momentum to the industry. The team’s main challenges can be summarised to five.
Tamil cinema witnessed an average four to five releases every week in the last two months (5 releases on March 17, 7 on March 24, 5 on March 31 and another 4 on April 7); a mass suicide with too many films releasing with fewer screens and shows and not sustaining beyond a week in theatres, even if they are good. With priority, a release regulation must be brought in to restrict number of releases to maximum three per week that brings sanity in industry and elevates audience interest for new films.
The President Vishal and Secretary Gnanavel Raja were vociferously fighting against piracy for years. Now with their positions, this must be their primary task and with help of both central and state governments, online and physical piracy must be curbed. Along with director Mysskin heading the anti-piracy committee, a strong team needs to be formed with knowledge on piracy and ensured they act upon it on war footing. The anti-piracy initiatives implemented in Telangana by setting up a body called TIPCU can be the benchmark to tackle this menace and target zero piracy as achieved in Malayalam and Kannada film industries.
Enhancing revenue opportunities:
With difficulties in theatrical releases and satellite channels not showing interest to buy small and medium budget films, revenue opportunities are dwindling and hence when a film fails, it loses almost the entire investment. The council must help producers to exploit the films through digital, cable and other mediums to recover their investment and support the film’s release with minimum 150 to 200 shows in the state for a week. Syndication of rights, exploitation of new rights emerging from films and alternate revenue opportunities must be explored to increase the producer’s revenues for all films, not just for top artiste films.
Hindi cinema is able to produce a film with Aamir Khan with world-wide market (Dangal) at a Rs.70 crore budget. However, Tamil films with a top artiste costing over Rs 70 crore (a few Rs 100 crore) is simply unacceptable. This situation prevails even for small and medium budget films, whose costs are beyond the revenue possibility. The council must work with FEFSI, Directors’ Union and Artistes Association and bring in variable payments for top artistes and technicians to lower upfront cost. Along with this the peripheral costs like service charges for online tickets, cost of eateries at theatres must be reduced to make it cheaper for audience visiting theatres. The cost of distribution (digital screening) and publicity expenses must also be reduced to bring down overall cost for a film.
Roping in government support:
Tamil cinema lost the State Government support for more than five years and multiple issues continue like no revision in ticket prices (current ticket prices were implemented on January 1, 2007 and the need is flexi-ticket prices), state government awards and subsidies for small budget films are not given since 2008, issues relating to tax exemption, high cost for location permission, difficulties to get shooting permission etc.
The new team must strive to get the support of state government to resolve these issues, which will benefit the industry substantially. If the team can successfully tackle the above five challenges and implement welfare schemes announced in their election manifesto (like giving 600 sq.ft land to each producer in Chennai, retirement benefit of Rs.10,000/- per month and festival bonus of Rs.10,000/- to producers etc.), it will certainly be golden years for Tamil cinema and producers. The team has committed to achieve these goals within 12 months and producers must give their full support to them to succeed.
The writer is Film Producer, two-time National Award Winning Writer, Columnist and Founder-Dean of BOFTA Film Institute in Chennai.