The ultimate future – Creating original content

Day 1 : Session 5
IP's the name of the game
While BPO is a word that even kids in India would know the meaning of, IP is a relatively unknown concept even for grown ups. The final session on Day 1 at the Nasscom organised Animation India 2005 was dedicated to the topic of creating original content. Heavy hitters like Kireet Khurana and P Jayakumar manned the line up for this session. Also participating in the session were Ashish Kulkarni who is one of the most active animation professionals in the country and Color Chips India Executive Director Suryanarayana Y. While a lot of industry insiders may argue that there is very limited scope for localised original content, the presenters offered differing viewpoints on the subject. Toonz Animation India’s P Jayakumar emphasised on the need for creating content for a global audience with universal themes, targeted at clearly defined demographics. On the other hand 2nz Animation’s Kireet Khurana pointed out that to make an IP globally succesful, it was important for the IP to be a bonafide success in the country of its origin.

“Creating original content is deinitely the way to go ahead” :Jayakumar

Taking first strike in the session, Jayakumar began his presentation questioning the sustainability of the outsourcing model. “Creating original content is definitely the way to go ahead” he remarked. “Moving forward” said Jayakumar, “We need to pitch to domestic and international markets. We also need to leverage strategic alliances with content buyers” he added. Visualising the future model for original content producers Jayakumar made some interesting points Future model -Co Production – Pre Sales – Sourcing Distribution channels – Pre school property – Huge Market – Fresh origial ideas from any part of the world – Potential for licensing & merchandising Jayakumar also enlisted products that could be merchandised Merchandising for original programming PRODUCT RANGE – Apparel – Toys – Accessories – Video Games – Mobile Phone Downloads Jayakumar ended his presentation by commenting that studios in India needed to upgrade skill sets remarking, “We are very weak on this front” “Lets focus on pre and post, lets focus on our creative and story telling skills”

‘The 5 Ws of creating original content’: Kireet

Next up on the podium was 2nz CEO Kireet Khurana. The passionate Khurana gave an excellent presentation titled ‘The 5 Ws of creating original content’ Animation is all about art. Why create original content? – Localisation mantra : Look at Mc Donald’s, Pizza Hut – Cultural awareness – Empowering content: Lets not look at crossovers, lets look at bonafide success in India – National Pride – If few of us had the dashing audacity to make local content and succeed in it *Food for thought : There are only 12 stories in this world. Every story is a combination of these 12. What does it take for an Indian animation product to be successful? – Passion and commitment -Strategy, initiative and leadership -Great stroy telling & design prowess -Trained Manpower – Collaborative efforts – Identifiability – Integrity & Brand Values – Appeal / Indelibility – Clear Motivations – Functionality – Good Design – Exaggeration – Method acting school – True for animation – Variables in creation – Target Audience : One can’t just think like an artist. You need to know your market – Trends : Understanding trends is important – Bottoms up approach : What do the mothers want? What do the children want? What do the advertisers want? Who are we? – Backend / BPO powerhouse – Huge manpower / latent talent – Biggest story telling hub /Bollywood – Collosal cultural stories reservoir Where do we come from? – No animation culture – No training institutes – Mediocre skill sets and productivity – Producing really low quality as compared to abroad – Most cos for servicing /outsourcing – Unfavorable market: We need to hammer harder that’s all – Consumer spends are low *Food for thought : Simpsons has 1100 licensed products to date When is ETA? – The inevitability – As economy becomes stronger, volumes on licensed products shall increase – Multiple channels platform – Achieving critical mass : Serious plans are afoot and animation education is finally being considered. In 2-3 years we will have great animation schools and good talent trickling into our studios will mean better products. At annecy, buyers look at products that have been bonafide success in the country of production. Kireet also spoke about the individual USPs of a few indian IPs Chotta Birbal – Wit and humor Rides on an existing brand. “This was a chance happening for us. Birbal is an existing brand yet Chotta Birbal is a unique IP. The stories are completely fictional” remarked Kireet. – CB was the 1st Indian animation character to be licensed Deewana (Set Max mascot for the cricket world cup) – Need to delight audiences – Open ended brief – Deewana has more brand values – Empowered success with Indian wins – Occasionally Deewana was the hot topic for commentators during breaks Bahadur (70’s Comic book) – Indian superhero of the 70s – Hero was endeared by the masses – commented well on the Chambal dacoits issue – Phantom & Tarzan were phased out by Indrajal comics when Bahadur did well: Says a lot about the power of Indian stroy telling – Texas US still has a Bahadur Club

“Being a mere service provider will not take us anywhere”: Suryanarayana

Taking the localisation mantra to a completely new level, Color Chips India Executive Director Suryanarayana Y began his presentation in chaste Hindi. Breaking the monotony of heavy presentations, he livened up the audience with a few contextual jokes. Said Suryanarayna,” A frenchman at Annecy was very upset that we Indians did not have any original content. He told me you Indians lack character” On a more serious note, Suryanarayna remarked,”Forget about the competition between China and India, we studios are competing with each other. Being a mere service provider will not take us anywhere, both from the creative point of view and the business point of view” Suryanrayana remarked,”I cannot afford to invest lacs on an episode when a Cartoon Network will pay me thousands. We need to create a global property. We have to narrate the story in a certain way that can be understood by an average western viewer” “Things would be different if the government brought into existence a regulation which made it compulsory for the TV channels to air local animation content” he added. An interesting observation Suryanarayana made was about how we were struggling to create local content while others were using our culture and stories to come up with content. “A Belgian company has made an animated Kamasutra (2D) for the adult market” he said.

“Let’s groom animation writers”: Kulkarni

nullThe experienced Ashish Kulkarni then shared, “I have for the past 6 years been speaking at at least 2 forums every quarter, asking and requesting the government to support us, but in vain” “We have been pushing for a co-pro with Canada. The Canadian president is visiting the country later next month, we hope to get the co-pro signed then” he added. Taking the case for original content and emphasising on the need for good writers, Kulkarni remarked,”In a pay channel scenario, money will come in only from original content production. No other country has 5,000 years of tested story telling. Unfortunately we have more producers than writers in the country. We need to talk to the universities, to have creative writing programs for animation.” Further elaborating on the topic of training, Kulkarni remarked, “Studios are supposed to produce, not teach. We need someone to take over the load of teaching from us. The IITs helped do that for the IT industry. We need an IIT for animation” Talking about the long shelf life that animation has, Kulkarni remarked, “VCs never believed in our presentation because we project 3 yr plans. Animation has a shelf life of over a 100 years” “We are one of the very few countries in the world, which understand multicultural programming. UK, Canda , France. Let’s talk to the Subhash Ghais of the world and ask them to make animation films.Let’s create properties in Flash for channels” concluded Kulkarni.