CinemaScapes 2018 concludes on a high note, vindicates the platform for business and networking
The 11th edition of Cinemascapes, held at Novotel Juhu, Mumbai was a resounding success in bringing together participants from cinema and tourism industry for a meaningful exchange of ideas and networking. It was a vindication of not only India’s cinema industry’s growing heft but also of Cinemascapes as a unique platform for driving business in both these industries. Over 40 speakers participated in three sessions, along with partner presentations by Gujarat and Nepal Tourism, who outlined trends and opportunities in their respective regions. Film Producers Guild (a body representing top producers in cinema and television industry) and ASAP (Association of Advertising Professionals), among others, partnered the event. Industry biggies such as the celebrated line producer Ramji Natarajan and Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai, among others, were also honoured for their contributions to the cinema industry. Such was the buzz that the event was trending on the first spot on Twitter. There was an all-around appreciation of the event by participants who believed that the undertaking had exceeded their expectations in, both, the quality of content and the opportunity to grow their businesses.
It was an open forum, thereby assuring participation across the board. Over twenty destinations, domestic and international, were represented by industry insiders who outlined the churn in their respective destinations.
Discussions indicated that destinations and cinema industry were both looking beyond rebates and incentives, exploring joint-promotion initiatives. There was an over-whelming concurrence on the fact that such an undertaking brought out better results for both, providing mutual gains at more competitive price-points.
Some cinema-makers egged destination promotion boards and travel industry representatives to view the regional cinema segment with more interest. They suggested that the segment held great potential and boasted of a sizable captive audience which could bring in more revenue for destinations.
Cinema-makers, line producers and location specialists insisted on the importance of ROIs in zeroing in on a location, hinting at the need for making them more cost-effective and seamless in experience.
The success of several states in the USA, besides other countries such as Jordon, South Africa, among many others, in raking up millions of dollars in direct and indirect earning by hosting movie crews for shoots, were detailed through insightful presentations.
While many line producers representing a plethora of destinations were candid to admit the absence of any note-worthy incentive programs, they hard-sold their destinations, assuring the cinema industry of an enabling environment, adequate infrastructure, and an abundant local know-how.
Cinema producers were of the view that India lacked the ready infrastructure for shooting of films involving a high-dose of visual effects. Exporting them to India was an expensive affair, forcing them to opt for European nations, such as Bulgaria. Closer home, Sri Lanka’s efficient cinema industry set up was an attractive proposition for movie makers.
In the domestic milieu, the success of states like Uttar Pradesh in courting a fair share of shooting was also debated. The availability of infrastructure and an attractive incentive program were enumerated as key reasons. Gujarat, a partner state at the Cinemascapes 2018, highlighted its offerings, showcasing its vibrant cinema industry setup. The presentation suggested that the state had a rich and an enabling infrastructure, a favourable dispensation and a thriving regional cinema setup. Gujarat’s rich and colourful backdrops, from the stunning Rann of Kutch to the sprawling Sabarmati River Front, art and culture and varied flora and fauna, were listed as attractive propositions for those seeking to create a visual art in India’s western most state.
Keynotes and sessions were followed by Cinemascapes 2018 awards – where the achievements of industry insiders were honoured. The list of awardees also included industry veteran Manmohan Shetty, founder of Adlabs and Storytellers for their advertisement based in a foreign location.
The event was followed by an evening of networking cocktails.
Cinemascapes 2018 Television Review
Cinemascapes 2017, held on 18th December last year in Mumbai, provided a platform for examining churnings in the cinema industry and its manifestations on the travel and tourism sector. The impact of cinema shoots in generating revenue for countries and destinations, fast-altering consumer preferences, critical factors influencing choice of destinations for shooting and much more was put under scanner in sessions at the event. Seasoned industry professionals, representing films, television, advertisement, production houses, NTOs and destination promotion offices, among others, were in attendance.
Industry experts suggested destinations to explore joint marketing campaigns and look beyond cash rebates and incentives to attract production houses. They voiced their preferences, naming affordability, accessibility to a destination, presence of cinema shooting infrastructure, aided by skilled local crew, and liberal policies as their key parameters for zeroing in on a destination.
Representatives from numerous NTOs gave detailed insight into their nation’s product offerings and USPs. They outlined their expectations from production houses, batting for a shift from being strategically positioned as a brand to becoming integral to the narrative itself. Some NTOs made video presentations, highlighting incentives and facilities available for cinema shoots. Representatives also took part in panel discussions to understand challenges and moot the road ahead. Austria, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Italy, Macedonia, Mongolia, Nepal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey, and Ukraine were represented in different capacities.
On the domestic front, Indian states such as Gujarat and Odisha highlighted their products and elaborated on recently undertaken policy initiatives to boost cinema tourism.
The growing clout of Indian television in shaping travel preferences of the outbound was also discussed by industry insiders. Another key takeaway of the brainstorming was how audiences were increasingly preferring new and unexplored destinations, therefore keeping destination promotion boards and NTOs on their toes, making strategic marketing and concerted outreach non-negotiable aspects of tourism promotion.
Awards ceremony followed panel discussions where Cinemascapes honoured Amit Khanna for his contribution to the cinema and television industry, and conferred him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Chrome Pictures and the Story Tellers were honoured for their video productions on Jammu and Kashmir and Assam, respectively. Faridoon Shahyar was also awarded for his role as a journalist.
Cinemascapes 2017 Television Review
Who said what at Cinemascapes 2017
Convenience to shoot, air-connectivity and infra influencing the choice of cinema shoots
Reflecting on major trends in the world of cinema tourism, Amit Khanna delved on how the decision to shoot at a particular destination was being increasing shaped by a handful of factors – convenience to shoot, ease of air-connectivity to the location, hassle-free experience for the production crew and availability of cinema shoot related infrastructure. He shared the example of Switzerland, detailing that a cinema-maker could register the schedule of an entire movie shoot online, thereby implying the need for creating more responsive and transparent access channels. He also made a mention of Reykjavik in the same breath, commending its infrastructure for cinema shoots.
He advocated setting in place mechanisms for smoother coordination between centre and states, municipal bodies and other government bodies involved in matters of policy and implementation.
Calling location critical to any form of audio-visual creative, he elucidated that distant and new destination had long remained integral to the art of cinema making. Reminiscing the role of veteran Indian directors and producers and their role in taking newer destinations in to the mainstream of tourism landscape, he commended the role of Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai and others in the past. Taking stock of trends in an increasingly interconnected digital world, he stressed that new and compelling locations were essential to hold on to audience’s fast receding attention span – which remains a problem for creatives cutting across genres.
An ecosystem to ensure ease of shooting will drive Indian destinations
The experience of ease of shooting in India for foreign filmmakers was a precondition to pushing India as an attractive cinema shoot destination, noted Vikramjit Roy. In a bid to address the absence of an ecosystem to ensure ease of shooting and a seamless experience, FFO had constituted a system of nodal officers, each representing a state or a Union territory, to act as a single-window contact for any filming related issues, he added. The idea has since been assiduously backed by state governments, central government ministries and other agencies, and are beginning to show positive results, he informed.
Giving insight into the mandate behind setting up of FFO, he detailed that the body was tasked with promoting India as an attractive destination for cinema shoots besides creating a film-friendly ecosystem in the country. He shared that taking the idea of national outreach a step further, the ministry of information and broadcasting had constituted a coveted national award to felicitate the best state for cinema shoots, injecting a spirit of healthy competition among states.
The FFO has bolstered its international outreach and has become a member of AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International), he informed adding that a viable online presence and creating a resource directory of cinema-related assets were next on the national body’s agenda.
Audiences looking for unexplored, virgin destinations; Nepal well-poised to ride the trend
Deepak Joshi made a strong pitch for Nepal as an attractive destination for cinema shooting, highlighting the geographical diversity and pristine environment of the country. Ruing the fact that the Himalayan state had not been able to court Indian filmmakers, he made a mention of the eighties and nineties when Nepal was considered as an extremely desirable shooting locale, noting that it was perhaps the inability of Nepal’s tourism fraternity in reaching out to the Indian community, to inform and educate them about the scenic destinations on offer, which had led to this downward slide. He argued that location, community, the ease of shooting, and accessibility to the destination remained key factors for choosing destinations for filming.
Examining trends in the cinema industry, he said that audiences were increasingly preferring realism and outdoor shoots than studio-based cinema-making and this shift boded well for Nepal. Describing how Nepal was an apt destination for Indian filmmakers, he explained that the Capital, Kathmandu, was well-connected to Indian cities with affordable flights, adding that the geographically diverse country with several unexplored and virgin destinations made it an ideal destination for filmmakers to cater to the changing palate of the audiences.
He also mentioned that the cinema industry was gaining importance in economic and cultural diplomacy for governments and for NTOs to boost their outreach.
Tectonic shift in way information is consumed; Visual mediums outpacing print
Sharing a short video on Assam and its tourism offerings, Khaleel Bacchoo Ali called awareness of tourism destinations a fabulous by-product of such visual initiatives. Taking stock of the changing trends in the marketplace, he noted that there has been a tectonic shift in the way news and information is being consumed, especially in the recent years, with a vast majority of the audience preferring visual mediums over printed documents.
He noted that the idea behind the conceptualisation of ASAP – formed in 2012 – was to bring a semblance of order in an otherwise chaotic industry and engage with the larger stakeholders in the ecosystem, including advertising, brands, creatives, other industry bodies and technicians, among others. He further highlighted that the body comprised of 76 members, all of whom were inducted after a stringent process and their fulfilling all the criterion laid by the body.
Giving an insight into the market specifics, he shared that the Indian commercial market has been witnessing sturdy growth at a 22 percent top line on a y-o-y basis for the last half a decade. Stressing that there could be a confluence between advertising film production and state tourism boards, he singled out areas for mutual association like video production, entertainment before education, respect for the viewer and the target audience space, among others.
Cinema and tourism must be a part of our bilateral cooperation and engagement
Evoking centuries old ties, cultural and people-to-people, Mongolian ambassador outlined the contours of bilateral cooperation – which was diversifying into newer areas in the last few years. He stressed that cinema and tourism as industries must not remain out of the ambit of the bilateral cooperation, and insisted on acting as a bridge between the stakeholders of the industries in the two countries.
He shared that Hindi movies were rather popular in Mongolia and Raj Kapoor was still the quintessential reference point for Hindi movies.
He mentioned that Mongolia was a sparsely populated land with striking visuals, distinct seasons and geographical zones. Terming the country a blend of modern and traditional way of living, he pointed out that nomadic cultures were present in the hinterland of the vast central Asian country. He noted that the country was a great tourist destination with Tibetan and Buddhist monasteries, now boasting of a dozen or so Indian restaurants too.
He informed that the Indian government had given its consent for code-sharing flights and active negotiations were on for tie-ups between commercial banks of the two countries, indicting a growing relationship between the two countries. Speaking on the road ahead, he mentioned that film companies and tourism office in Mongolia were enthusiastic in building their creative cooperation with their counterparts in India.
Eyeing employment and revenue generation, Odisha mooting a lucrative policy for the cinema industry
Linking cinema tourism to employment generation, stating that it would contribute towards generating revenue and creating jobs on the ground, Director tourism, Government of Odisha suggested that the department was making serious attempts to put Odisha on the national map as a preferred destination for travel and tourism, and had made some leeway in the process. He admitted that the state had been a late starter in attracting cinema-related tourism, but pointed out that several steps had been taken in the right direction, including the state mooting a forward-looking policy with lucrative provisions for the industry. Giving a clarion call to production houses and other stakeholders to explore the state for cinema shoots, Nitin Jawale highlighted that the state had the highest forest cover in the country and was home to several unexplored destinations. He said that Odisha had a distinct ecology and was home to numerous beaches and rivers, and some of the highest mountain ranges in the Eastern Ghats, and therefore offered unparalleled diversity to shoot. He also attracted attention towards Odisha’s rich heritage and monuments.
His address was supplemented by video presentations that outlined Odisha’s varied tourism products and offerings.
Air Canada boosting connect; aggressive promotion to amplify destination outreach underway
Asserting that Canada was open for business of cinema and tourism, he shared that the North American nation had signed a film co-production treaty with India some years ago, and had been aggressively promoting its destinations in the Indian market since then. He said that Canada partnered the Goa International Films Festival and FICCI Frames in 2017, signalling that the outreach was underway in full measure.
Explaining the advantages of Canada as a filming location, he said that the country was replete with exotic locations and had a skilled workforce to assist production houses in their undertakings.
Backing Amit Khanna’s position on the need for robust air-connectivity, the Country Manager shared that Air Canada was operating non-stop flights four days a week from Mumbai and daily non-stop flights from Delhi, besides four times a week connection to Vancouver from Delhi, playing a significant role in strengthening India’s connectivity to the Canadian shores.
Buoyed by the double-digit growth in tourist footfalls in the country, he said that individual provinces, too, had undertaken a spirited effort to amplify their outreach in the Indian market. Arun Pandeya invited industry stakeholders to share their perspectives with a Canadian body, representing officials from the Canadian High Commission and Consul General’s offices.
Lucrative incentives, mature cinema logistics industry make Georgia ideal for cinema shoots
Georgia, a small nation in the southwest of Europe, was a little-known destination in the Indian mainstream, but the Government of Georgia had been assiduously attempting to create awareness about the destination and its tourism pegs. Explaining the product offering, he said that the country had six climate zones and was home to sub-tropical and coastal areas, alpine mountains, deserts, and forests – all of which could be covered in a span of a day! He added that the country boasted of a unique amalgamation of medieval and modern architecture, lending more aesthetic appeal for cinema industry stakeholders to take advantage of. Sharing more details, he said that public places in the country were easily accessible and were free of charge.
Making a strong case for Georgia, Satinder Pal Ahuja further brought attention to the fact that the country offered cash incentives in tune of 20-25% to not only filmmakers, but to advertisement shoots and television production – where all incentives were settled in the shortest time-frame to lend more ease to production houses. He said that Georgia was a warm, welcoming and a business-friendly country, and had a mature cinema logistics market, available at costs 30-35% less expensive than European countries.
In his closing remarks, he revealed that several major production houses in India were already exploring opportunities on offer.
Focussing on budding professionals, Mukesh Sharma advocates an academic course on cinema tourism
Batting for including an academic course in the under-graduate programme on the nuances of cinema tourism to create awareness among budding cinema directors, Mukesh Sharma shared that he was giving it a serious thought as the head of the Ramesh Sippy Academy of Cinema and Entertainment.
Reminiscing his stint with the Children’s Film Society, he said that his first experience of co-production happened way back in 1989 with the government of Mauritius. He shared that the film was made in the shortest of duration and ended up winning a National Award. Mukesh Sharma mentioned another anecdote related to his involvement in production, saying that he worked with a German channel and assisted them in shooting, including the post-production, perhaps hinting at the ease with which these projects could be executed. Incidentally, the video was later aired on the national network.
Detailed compendium of cinema resources by states will assist production houses in identifying resources
The biggest question posed by industry insiders to destinations and products seeking their participation for shooting activities in their turf was the ways and means in which they were to lend ease to the entire process of shooting for the involved production house. She said that growth of cinema tourism at any destination, domestic and international, was intrinsically linked to the degree of uniqueness it possessed.
She reasoned that industry stakeholders would have preferred to be offered a catalogue or a handbook, in print or in electronic version – an idea already pressed into action by some of the leading exponents of cinema tourism, including countries like Canada and Dubai. She argued that putting in place such a document would make it easier for production houses to identify available locations, besides having a clear understanding of the state of soft and hard infrastructure available to them. She questioned the absence of such a mechanism among Indian states and backed the idea of creating a handbook on similar lines.
Shuchi Trivedi further shared that Ernst and Young had collaborated with the Government of Maharashtra and created a detailed e-compendium of locations and other related amenities for cinema tourism – the handbook was launched recently by the state Chief Minister. She noted that as an analyst, she favoured these ideas and was keen on seeing development on this front.
Single-window clearance, transparent policies and robust infra pushing Gujarat ahead in the race
Sanatan Pancholi said that as part of their commitment towards muscling up cinema-tourism outreach, he headed the film shooting facilitation centre, under the aegis of Gujarat Tourism, in Mumbai. He pointed out the government had put in place single-window clearance for cinema shoots, and all the related permissions were being channelled through the state tourism department – which was active in processing these requests. He explained that in case the permission was not granted by the tourism department through a written letter within seven working days, with sufficient reasons to back the denial, production teams were allowed to proceed with their shoots on the eighth day of putting in the application, indicating a favourable climate for production houses in the western coastal state.
He also presented the audience with a detailed video, depicting the diverse flavours of Indian and Gujarati cinema, and detailing how the cinema market, Hindi and Gujarati, was growing leaps and bounds with each passing year, bringing in significant revenue for the country, along with supporting around 20 million jobs.
It is also worth mentioning that the state has already bagged a prestigious National Award for being the best cinema promotion-friendly state; the award was constituted recently by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to foster healthy competition among states. The video also mentioned that Gujarat was a heady mix of ancient heritage and modern-marvels of architecture, backed by uncompromising law and order, and friendly locals, making it an ideal destination for shooting any visual art form.
Keen on partnership opportunities to position Singapore as an integral part of the storyline
Sharing his insights on positioning Singapore through visual mediums, he advocated for deeper stories and fresh perspectives. Explaining his assertion, he said after having positioned Singapore as a part of branded content for decades, he was looking at possibilities of working with production houses where in the country could be an integral part of the story or the content. He also suggested that production houses could explore ideas wherein Singaporeans could be intrinsic to the storyline. He made a mention of the country’s partnership approach, most recently with Dharma productions, in producing Hindi cinema ‘Badrinath ki Dulhaniya’ where a key story character was based out of Singapore, allowing them to weave in opportunities to strategically market the country.
He said that Singapore had the good fortune of being associated with some or the other Bollywood or Hollywood film associations since way back in the 1960s, and the association had grown and diversified since then, leading to many more advertisements and television serials being shot in the island nation. He commended cinema actors, cutting across various regions, for helping Singapore establish a profoundly deep connect with the Indian masses.
Crediting cinema-based connect for Singapore’s rise as a preferred destination for travel among the Indian outbound, he shared that the country had already welcomed around 9.5 lakh tourists (.95 million) from India till September this year, establishing India as the third largest source market for Singapore.
Destination positioning and attribution by production houses critical challenges for South Africa tourism
Hanneli Slabber rued the fact that – being an affordable destination for cinema shooting – several Indian and Hollywood productions were shooting in the country, but not attributing it in the storyline or otherwise, causing a dent to their marketing plans. She called this omission a major challenge for South Africa tourism. She termed it a loss on the tourism front, however maintained that it still involved local staff, thereby benefitting the local cinema industry.
Concurring with G B Srithar on the need for telling more stories involving the country, she said that it was a challenge for each country and destination to position itself integral to the storyline. Substantiating her argument, she quipped that despite J R Tolkien being a South African, New Zealand was able to steal the thunder for The Lord of the Rings.
In her own admission, South Africa was a young country with regards to cinema shoots and was learning from their past experiences. She informed that several amends were made, especially, concerning subsidy – wherein the entire spectrum of national growth and development was kept in mind while framing concerned policies. Sharing further, Hanneli noted that single-source clearance, incentives and the freedom to shoot in ecologically sensitive areas with adequate ground support were some of the strong pegs of the country’s offerings to the cinema industry stakeholders.
Speaking on India, she said that Cape Town had been a major attraction among Indian cinema makers, however stressed that South Africa had a lot more to offer than just Cape Town.
Italy tapping the ‘India opportunity’ through cinema associations and concerted promotion
Salvatore Ianniello explained his association with the Indian film industry, sharing that the Italian experience of the Indian market commenced back to 2007, when he was able to convince the tourist board to take stock of the opportunities available in India and put in the tools needed to promote Italian destinations. An agreement was signed between Yashraj Films and Italian Tourist Promotion Board to bring in Italy as a part of the movie – Bachna Ae Haseeno’ – which was followed by a couple of other projects in the next year.
He said that allocation of public resources (Italian Tourist Board is backed by the exchequer) for promoting destinations through Bollywood entailed a risk factor as the fate of the movie was unknown and the investment was at risk. He, however, expressed satisfaction over board’s involvement with the Bollywood, saying that setting a sum for such initiatives aside, a number of tour operators had also been roped in the process, through which movies were promoted collectively before their release. He shared that the outcomes of such initiatives had been positive.
Salvatore Ianniello also informed that the Italian government had recently passed a tax credit worth 110 million Euros for the next two years in a bid to attract cinema shooting in to the country.
Ukraine has flavours of several European nations; affordability, visa-on-arrival add to appeal
Anna Palenchuk said that Ukraine was situated in the middle of Europe and was a large country. She asserted that one could shoot in the country and make it seem shot in four different European countries, implying at the nation’s diverse geographical and aesthetic setting. Explaining the product of the country, she shared it was home to over sixty castles and forts and some of the major corporate companies, including Apple and Motorola, had shot their advertisements in Ukraine.
She listed out the advantages of shooting in the country, noting that the industry was supported by the government, had a film commission and licenses to shoot was easy to acquire. She said that a license to shoot at an airport in Ukraine could be acquired in a matter of a day, compared to other European countries where the process could take a week. She further said that the European nation possessed a professional English speaking team to cater to production teams, and it was one of the most affordable European countries production teams could think of.
Eyeing easier connectivity, the country was providing visa-on-arrival and planned to launch e-visa in the coming year, she added. Also, the country was in process of providing cash rebates shorty, Anna Palenchuk informed. She also drew attention towards the sizable presence of the Indian community in her country, most of whom were medical students. Incidentally, two Indian movies had been recently shot there.
Macedonia likely to further simplify policies, incentivize with more cash rebates
Dejan Iliev said that he had over twenty-five years of experience of production in a spectrum of mediums, including television, films and advertisement shoots, besides heading the first Macedonian film fund. He said that he was putting to use his policy-making background and had proposed to the Macedonian government to further simplify processes involving incentives and cash rebate. He detailed that the proposal was mooted to provide a cash rebate on qualified expenses in tune to 25-30 percent, from the existing twenty percent, to add to the USP of the country as a desirable cinema tourism destination.
Sharing his thoughts on working with south Indian productions, some of them involving around thousand extra artists, was a new experience for him, he said. He reasoned that having been pre-dominantly associated with cinema in the western countries, Macedonia had adopted a western work style. He noted that while it was an interesting situation to manage 1300 artists shooting at the same location for nine days, they did not face any challenges, thanks to a very efficient crew – which was a result of having to deal with limited available resources for cinema shooting, especially for Macedonian films for a very long time.
Attractive incentives, conducive environment for cinema-shoot and visa-on-arrival are Serbia’s USPs
Elucidating some key advantages of shooting in the country, Irina Maleeva said that Serbia offered 20 percent cash rebate in terms of incentives, besides being the only European country extending the rebate to advertisement film shootings too. Also, Serbia had recently launched visa-on-arrival for Indian passport holders, she informed. Further adding, she said that easy accessibility to different locations, hassle-free permissions and conducive environment added to Serbia’s appeal.
Sharing an experience of managing a shoot of an Indian movie, involving 30 fighter aircrafts, she said that Serbia got the opportunity after Mani Ratnam was denied the permission to shoot the movie at an Indian Air Force base in Jammu and Kashmir. She termed the experience unique, and elaborated that heavy military equipment, including choppers, an air base and air hangers was provided to the Indian contingent to shoot for a duration of ten days.
Batting for more visits from production teams from India, she said that Serbia was a small and a compact country with Belgrade as the capital city – which was voted as the best city to visit in Europe. She called Belgrade a trendy, vibrant and a unique city featuring several luxury hotels, night clubs and restaurants. The country had several exotic locations, she added.
Shooting in Nepal a pleasant experience; informing countries about business opportunities generates interest
He shared his experience of shooting in Nepal, explaining that being linked through road and air, production teams could transport equipment through roads. Also, there was direct air-connectivity from Delhi and Mumbai. He said that Nepal was an extremely cost-effective place to conduct shoots and the overall experience was nothing short of amazing. He bemoaned the need for crowd control, saying that there were almost ten thousand people at each location, waiting to get a glimpse of their favourite movie stars.
Reflecting on the support provided by the Nepalese government, Rengarajan Jaiprakash shared that permission to shoot at locations were obtained in time and the army provided security to actors. Suggesting some measures to improve the overall experience, he noted that there was need to improve physical infrastructure as travelling to different locations within the country was often arduous.
On the challenge pertaining to educating new destinations and locations about the Indian film industry, he said that Indians produced over 1500 films each year which was by no means an insignificant amount. He said that countries got a sense of the business opportunities arising when they saw the quantum of money spent and employment generated through shoots of songs.
He outlined that providing adequate information about India and its film industry was key to generating interest among foreign countries and locations for grabbing a piece of the lucrative market share.
Cost-effective locations important to production teams; massive change in the overall landscape
Reflecting on changing times and trends, he informed that there were limited available resources and equipment; a small team of 30 members, comprising the cast and crew, shot much of foreign location shoots. He said that, these days, several south Indian movies were being shot at budgets comparable or even bigger than Hindi movies, and had crew numbering in thousands.
Noting that his philosophy was ‘money saved was money earned’, he shared that ‘Dilwale’ was shot for sixty days in Bulgaria and ended up being under the budget – the money saved was later utilised to shoot a high-budget song in a distant location in Iceland. He also detailed how over a hundred ‘Indian looking’ Balkan gypsies were hired on a short notice to shoot a sequence of the movie Bahubali. He reiterated that providing the best resources at best possible prices was essential to production teams and was his mantra.
Speaking on the bygone era, Natarajan Ramji talked about his association with his mentor Yash Chopra; he honed his skills under his patronage. He shared that he had been in the business of line production for thirty years now.
Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria well-endowed cinema tourism locales; choice of destination is production team’s prerogative
On being questioned whether he favoured a particular destination, as he was representing three nations, namely Bosnia, Slovenia and Croatia, he said that he left it to the choice of the production team based on their script demand and locational needs.
He emphasized that Slovenia was a nation full of beautiful locations, noting that the country possessed a number of lakes, cities and castles, other than beaches and mountains.
Speaking on gamut of larger offerings in all the three countries, he mentioned that being in proximity to the Adriatic Sea, each one of these countries were full of beautiful locales and crystal-clear waters, and had much to offer to discerning cinema makers.
Marketing tie-ups bring more value on the table; industry needs to look beyond incentives and rebates
He said that one of the major trends for Yash Raj films had been the marketing tie-ups they had been able to forge with some countries – where some of their recent movies had been filmed. He shared that the company had inked tie-ups with Abu Dhabi, Tourism Austria and Innsbruck. The movie ‘Tiger Zinda hai’, shot under the banner of Yash Raj films, was shot in four different countries, he revealed.
Substantiating, he said that while up till now, the discussion hovered around the quantum of cash rebates and other such incentives being offered , but the industry needed to look beyond these. He asserted that with ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, they had been able to achieve it. He shared that production house merely needed to shoot the film in a location and provide them with certain licenses to use stills and videos of the movie for their own tourism promotion in order to ink a marketing agreement.
He expressed hope that Austria was planning on some sort of tourism promotional activities involving the movie recently shot there to attract Indian travellers.
Indian television has a more profound impact on tourism than any other visual medium
Explaining the reach of Hindi soap operas and Indian television, Rajan Shahi said that with the growth in connectivity and buying power, its reach had percolated from only a handful of big cities to the distant corners of the country, reaching millions of people the nation over. He also pointed out that by the virtue of being telecasted five days a week, there was a minimum of two and half hour of content of a television serial each week on offer – which was not an insignificant figure. He said that Indian television serials were aspirational in nature and it was making a more profound impact on the business of travel than probably any other medium of visual art.
He detailed the modus operandi of operation, revealing that the production team and broadcasters treated any outdoor foreign shoot as a high-point and a major marketing campaign was designed around it to maximize outreach.
He shared a few instances to elaborate his assertion, mentioning that he was approached by the Switzerland tourism board to shoot at locations not frequented by Indian travellers and there was a visible jump in footfalls post the broadcast of those episodes. Similarly, Thailand government wanted to position the country as a nation similar to India in terms of culture and the story line was weaved around it, depicting the cultural similarity between the two nations.
He noted that the choice of destination for shooting was not singularly influenced by the location, but by a number of factors, naming culture, lifestyle and infrastructure to shoot at those destinations.
Beyond incentives, time for destinations to look at innovative co-branded marketing campaigns
He concurred with the ideas out forth by Aashish Singh, stating that destinations and products, instead of solely focussing on the quantum of incentives and rebates, needed to go beyond and explore ways and means to devise innovative co-branded marketing campaigns. He said that such an approach was going to be extremely benefitable for, both, the destination, and the movie.
He illustrated his point by sharing that they had tied-up with the Ministry of Oman for shooting a Hindi movie a couple of years ago, involving big stars of the industry. He shared that the ministry of tourism in Oman went out of the way to ensure subsidized air travel costs, besides ironing out other logistical issues. Tanuj Garg said that they were able to barter a win-win marketing campaign with the middle-eastern country.
Closer home, he detailed his experience of working closely with Gujarat Tourism for a recently launched movie called ‘Tumhari Sullu’, adding that Vidya Balan travelled to Gujarat to promote the iconic Rann of Kutch Festival – which elicited tremendous response not for the Gujarat State tourism department but also for the movie itself.
Turkey keen to make the most of the power of Bollywood in shaping travel preferences
Fulya Okutur said that Turkey was interested in tapping the Bollywood industry and its power of shaping travel preferences of the Indian outbound. She noted that a lot of effort had gone into bringing TAFI to Turkish shores for their annual convention, held in 2017. Also, she expressed deep satisfaction over the fact that numerous countries were competing to attract Indian production companies to their land at the event. Fulya Okutur, however, asserted that Turkey was a concoction of all those countries and their offerings, and filmmakers could create an ambience similar to the one available in Asia or Europe. Further, she brushed aside perceived safety concerns, noting that terror could strike anywhere and no region in the world was safe from its scourge – Turkey was voted as one of the best places to visit in the world recently. Turkey also offered a major advantage in terms of currency conversion for India, as compared to European nations in the vicinity, making cinema shooting comparatively less expensive, she added.
As a twin-representative of a resort and a region in Turkey, she shared she had made six visits to India in the past eighteen months, signalling the importance that businesses in Turkey were attaching to opportunities emanating from India. Quipping, she said that during her first visit, she got the opportunity to visit eight cities in India and interact with travel agents, and it when she realised the similarity between Turkish and Indian people, especially their physical appearance.
Film and Travel Fraternity laud Cinemascapes 2017 as a must attend event for unparalleled insights on industry churnings
Union Tourism Secretary
” At the onset, I want to congratulate the magazine and organizations who have supported this event. It has immense potential in the overall scope of niche tourism in India “
Eminent TV & Film personality
” I am extremely happy to be here and also participate as a speaker. It is a very important platform for cinema and television, and explores possibilities of bringing the world closer actually “
Vice chairman, Ogilvy India
” It is a positive thing for a forum like this to happen. “
” It was a fantastic experience to be here. There was some intense discussion on various aspects of location tourism and film production “
MAHARAJA KUMAR LAKSHYARAJ
” First and foremost it is a great initiative to have so many diverse stakeholders coming under one roof who are related to the cinema world “
Director, Thailand Tourism
” A great platform to share knowledge systems and processes “
HE ERNEST RWAMUCYO
High Commissioner of Rwanda to India
” It was wonderful to attend this event on cinema tourism which remains an important means to create brand awareness “
VP Yash Raj Films
” It was a fantastic event that got who’s who of different industries under one roof, we got to meet eminent and key people from tourism industry and government representatives “