Marketing costs and independent films, an uneasy mix, says Rahul Puri

How many of us actually watch small films? Films that perhaps don’t have the big star cast or the big directors. Maybe there are films that don’t have the backing of big studios and will rely heavily on word of mouth from the target group, referring it to peers. How many of us really go to the theatre, pay Rs 250+ and watch these films?


I doubt the answer to my question is, many, if we are being honest. The reality is that in spite of most of us moaning about the quality of storytelling in films, we generally base our film watching decisions on factors like star cast and the amount of marketing visibility. The small films usually lack these ingredients and therefore, they are not top-most in the minds of the viewers when it comes to choice for consumption. And this is usually despite the potential of their story.


Forgive me for this roundabout way of getting to the point. There is a huge issue of marketing films in our business and the smaller, independent films (the films a lot of people laud as ‘good cinema’) usually ends up with the short end of the stick. An old time distributor would call these films ‘art-house’ or say they aren’t commercial and therefore, they can’t be marketed well. But there is a distinction between something that is targeted to a niche and something that is completely unmarketable.


One of the large issues that our business has to address over the next few years are niche films and how we deal with them and create a viable business model for them. The West has art house theatres and a thriving independent circuit including channels, festivals and markets where films out of the mainstream can find a way to be commercial in nature.


India has to find a way to resolve this issue too. We have many terrific films that don’t make it to theatres and therefore, we deprive our audiences of seeing some really great films. Look at the films that win National Awards. How many of us actually see them outside their home state? Would it not make sense for the rest of the country to see them? Are these stories that wouldn’t resonate with other Indian audiences? I can’t say the answer is yes for sure but in general it has to be true.


Marketing costs and promotional expenses is one of the main bone of contention here. A film is considered impossible to release if it can’t justify a certain spend on marketing and promotion. The absolute amount of this figure has grown over the years thanks to increase in prices of media as well as the growth of media outlets and platforms. Today a film is deemed to have had a poor release if it doesn’t do the latest reality shows, launch a motion poster at a 5 Star hotel or do an eight city tour for press and promotion. All this, plus traditional forms of advertising and other marketing tools costs money. Lots of it. Where do little, independent films get this money from?


Moreover, if a small film does get this finance, how do they decide what is actually effective and what is not? Marketing campaigns have a template to them these days and all agencies try to enforce this upon producers stating previous successes or competitors spend. This sometimes is relevant but mostly it’s about consuming the all important inventory that most of the agencies, channels and platforms need to exhaust in order to enhance profitability. Whether it’s needed, effective or even useful for a particular film is secondary at times. Thus, a small film is over burdened making it more unprofitable thus perpetuating the cycle that these films are generally a huge risk.


So what’s the solution? Well, better and more innovative marketing planning, campaigns and execution. Most of which is probably available and there are agencies and marketing gurus out there capable of delivering. It will just take a producer or a studio the gumption of saying no to the herd mentality and giving it a real shot. The filmmakers really deserve it.

Latest Reads
BIG Magic acquires 'Boonie Bears' exclusive FTA rights

BIG Magic has acquired exclusive FTA rights of ‘Boonie Bears’, the No.1 and most popular animated series in China. BIG Magic has renamed it ‘Babloo Dabloo’ for the Hindi viewing audience. Babloo Dabloo airs every Monday – Sunday 10 am – 11 am & 5 pm – 6 pm only on BIG Magic

Television TV Channels GECs
PBL: Setting stage for next big thing on Indian sporting landscape

India has witnessed the emergence of a multi-sports culture over the past few years. This significant development has come on the back of a promising display by Indian sportspersons across various disciplines, the meteoric rise of home grown leagues and the consequent widening of the fan base of...

Television TV Channels Sports
CNNMoney new section will be about the fastest growing economy; MoneyStream app launched

MUMBAI: Attracting 1.8 million average monthly page views, witnessing a 37 per cent growth in video consumption and 16 per cent in unique browsers month-on-month from India in less than a year’s time is not smooth. In its ambitious plan of global expansion, CNN Digital is leaving no stone unturned...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Content a 'Game of Thrones'; AT&T's control over HBO, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros faces regulatory lens

The global media landscape is resulting in a new juggernaut as an internet and cable behemoth yesterday purchased an entertainment conglomerate making the former unmatched in its size and reach to consumers through home broadband, smartphones, satellite television and a battery of movies and cable...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
US$ 4.5 bn expected from IPL rights; SC recommends accounts scrutiny

The Supreme Court on Friday froze all financial transactions between the BCCI and state cricket associations by directing the apex body not to disburse any funds till it resolves to abide by the Justice RM Lodha panel recommendations on reforms by 3 December . The top court ordered that none of...

Television TV Channels Sports
TVS Tyres is co-presenter for Asian Champions Trophy 2016

Continuing its strong connect with sports, TVS Tyres has associated with Asian Champions Trophy 2016 by becoming the co-presenter. The Asian Champions Trophy is one of the premier hockey tournaments, a much sought after annual international competition promising some great hockey action. This...

Television TV Channels Sports
Q2-17: Zee Learn declares maiden interim dividend

The board of directors of the Essel group’s education company Zee Learn Limited (ZLL) have declared a first time ever dividend of 5 percent per equity share of Re 1 each for the quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q2-17, current quarter).

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
Whether BARC action can stop unethical practices?

MUMBAI: Can businesses and industries practise their art of selling fairly although they have 'Fair Practices' training during academic courses, workshops and several ISO and other certifications? There seems to be the fear of the lawman, and not the law in India. If the traffic cop is watching,...

Television TV Channels Viewership
TV Superhighway: beIN, Yaddo, AfricaXP have joined us, says Magine CEO Ambuj Goyal

CANNES; Magine has secured partnerships with four of the industry’s most exciting sports, documentary and entertainment content providers. Partnerships with beIN, the international media group and owner of MIRAMAX; Yaddo, the new documentary streaming service headed up by former head of The BBC’s...

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories