Co-production of films: The way forward

MUMBAI: Co-production of films is no longer a mere option, it has become a necessity in this age where cinema is transcending all boundaries.


This was the essence of the seminar highlighting the need and possibilities of synergies between India and the world in film co-production held on the inaugural day of the ongoing FICCI Frames 2007 in Mumbai.


Keynote speakers included ANICA producer and president Riccardo Tozzi, Hyperion Pictures founder and president Tom Wilhite, Kahani World CEO Biren Ghose and Greater London Authority’s director of economic and business policy John Ross.


All the key speakers acknowledged the development of a global audience and discussed, in detail, the possibilities of co-production with their respective countries.


Tozzi emphasized the need for a treaty between India and Italy, stating that though there are films that are shot in India and exhibited in Italy, it is important to work together in creating films that will work and do well in both the countries. He drew attention to the cultural themes that both nations have in common, saying, “While France tells the story of love, Italy tells the story of family. This is perhaps the common ground as India tells the story of family as well.”


Adding that it is important that we find compatibility in the style of storytelling, Tozzi said that we need to promote stars of either countries and develop quality scripts that involve characters from both countries, as also the need for developing a ground for mutual knowledge.


One such co-production between Hyperion and Adlabs, Marigold starring Salman Khan and Ali Larter, will soon be released. Hyperion’s president Wilhite highlighted that some components of most independent films in the US are co-produced. He also mentioned that there are plans to release Marigold in India in the next two months and stated that the company also plans to make a complete Hindi film. He added that there is a large non-Indian market presence for such films.


Speakers also agreed upon the need for a well drafted contract that tackles various issues such as creative differences, distribution rights, third party participation and liabilities.


According to Ross, London will soon hold a festival called ‘India Now’ where Bollywood cinema will be a key component. Speaking about the revenue generation from co-produced ventures and animation, Biren Ghose said that it is high time we shared ideas and stopped keeping ideas close to our chest for fear of piracy, intellectural property rights and other contentious issues.


Ghose emphasized on the need to get the right ideas, which can only be done by pooling our resources. Talking about the animation industry, he stated that animation is a pedagogy that produces measurable results, which makes co-production viable in this field. He highlighted the presence of a market for films with a budget of $ 3 – 7 million, stating that it could provide five to seven fold returns depending on the period. He also stated that a lot can be done in terms of merchandising, licensing, home video and print generation if we chose to capitalise on the brand.