Television

Ficci Frames 2004 to undergo makeover

MUMBAI: The annual Frames convention, in its fourth year in 2004, will have some changes in its format.

This was announced at the third seminar in the Frames 2004 knowledge series on Saturday. The session dwelt on film finance. A session held last month had dealt with the broadcast sector.

Ficci's Sushil Jiwarkar said, " As the entertainment industry grows and matures, Frames also has to shift gears to reflect changing perspectives of the business. Hence we have initiated the process of pre consultations with industry members to collate their thoughts and viewpoints well in advance."

"Our aim is to make Frames 2004 more businesslike and result oriented. At Frames 2004, we have decided to limit the number of sessions to 15 or 16. There will be focussed workshops, company presentations, screening opportunities and the like. The seminar held for each industry segment will be vertically integrated to reflect continuity. We are given to understand that the UK Film Council, which had a major presence in Frames 2003, is negotiating five to six projects for co-production with our industry involving a total amount of 10 million pounds."

"We have received suggestions to hold structured financial sessions at Frames 2004. Through this, it is hoped that more such projects will be put in place. This will help new talent to give vent to their creativity."

Meanwhile, the Frames 2004 Knowledge Series is aimed at providing theoretical underpinnings of entertainment to an industry which has remained largely unstructured. One point that was raised on Saturday was that India could take advantage of the BPO side of the process of filmmaking. A cameraman here would cost much less than what is available overseas. This could be worth a few billion dollars. It was also suggested that the industry work with specialised sales offices in countries like Germany and UK.

This way, there could be some projections made about the amount of business one could expect to do in a certain market. This was a response to a complaint that was raised by an audience member who worked for a German film production and distribution company. The company has $30 million to invest in India but has so far not seen any project it feels confident enough to back because business projections are not present.

In its presentation, KPMG said that technology would unleash a whole new load of distribution streams for content. The industry is ready for a mindset change in terms of how it conducts its business a company representative said. "Aggregation of economies of scale are a crucial driver and this must be recognised by participants for revenue enhancement and cost reduction. Money will come in and the industry must move from an unorganised mechanism to an organised one. The nature of the business needs to be demystified."

"When we talk of aggregation, we will see media funds or media banks kind of concept start to happen. Cash entrapment will also happen. It will become easier to see how this business catches its cash. For instance digital distribution formats will change the way films are exhibited. This will allow banks to see how the money is flowing."

On the television front, KPMG noted that 82 million households were connected. While there are over 300 channels in operation, the proposed implementation of addressability has the entire industry in a tizzy. Therefore, the future outlook for the industry is uncertain. The forces that are driving change in the film industry included the entry of global players, technology driven piracy, the changing regulatory environment as well as increased interest from corporate fund managers.

KPMG also noted that the traditional sources for film finance had dried up due to the high number of flops in recent times as well as the exit of several private investors when the economic environment turned sour. The new sources of funding include debt and equity. Projects could seek venture capital as well as international private equity. One of the concerns for equity investors is the scalability of the business model as well as extent of corporatisation not just in form but also in spirit.

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