Indo-US movie biz faces opportunities & obstacles galore

MUMBAI: The United States and India are home to the two largest film industries in the world. More than ever before, these two markets are converging through film co-productions, television joint ventures and infrastructure investment.

Yet there remain significant obstacles to doing business in each of these markets such as prohibitive taxation, market access restrictions, labour strife and intellectual property challenges.

Focusing on the key challenges and opportunities in each market panelists were present from the US and India at FICCI Frames seminar.

Despite the fact that more and more Indian films are being shot in foreign locations, especially in the US and Hollywood Studios are increasingly investing in local language films in India, the advantages seem to be staying with a handful of people and not benefiting the industry as a whole.

While the US companies can invest up to 100 percent in Indian companies including production and distribution, the same is not the case for Indian companies in the US.

Pointing some more such challenges Ernst & Young advisory service leader Farokh Balsara said, "High import duty of US movies through DVD and beta tapes in India, piracy of Indian movies in the US, low receptiveness of the US cinemas towards Indian movies, stringent visa procedures for Indian producers, high service tax of 12.3 percent in India are some of the obstacles that need to be tackled."

A co-producer and line producer for movies shot in the US, Anadil Hossain added, "Lack of transparency and accountability on an Indian producer’s part is a big hindrance to the Indian film industry."

USC School of cinematic arts Dean pointed out, "There is a need for serious training programs in film schools just like that imparted in business schools."

If these issues amongst the many others are settled tactfully in the years to come, it may very well benefit the two largest film industries in the world and should hopefully result into a co-production treaty between India and US.

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