VAM Summit: Hollywood film producer Kia Jam emphasizes on the blend of technology and creativity

The third day of the VAM Summit opened its gates virtually with an enriching keynote address on ‘Viewing the VFX world through a film producer’s glasses’. K.Jam Group of Companies founder and president Kia Jam who has been an independent film producer for the past 20 years expressed his excitement for the amazing technological advancement in filmmaking while emphasizing on the importance of the art of good storytelling.

The session was carried forward by Famulus founder Suchit Mukherjee who tried understanding Jam’s view on the visual effects and the Indian film industry. 

Kia Jam appreciated the fact that ‘India has such a rich history’ in the movie business, with so many good actors and filmmakers.

“In my opinion the film industry in India is obviously one of the most prolific in the world, because you guys have been making more movies for longer than just about anybody,” he said.

Talking about the major changes due to the pandemic, Mukherjee pointed out, “One of the challenges that we have facing here post the pandemic, now that we can probably see it’s almost over; is that most of the films are being heavily dependent on CGI and VFX. We are doing virtual production as going to places is difficult at the moment. Probably that’s a better way of life.”

According to the L.A. based filmmaker, the pandemic did bring about a change in the whole media and entertainment industry.

“What has the pandemic forced us to do? It has forced us to get even more creative and try to deal with the fact that we need a picture clip in the backdrop; I can’t get it because of the restrictions on travel. So we had been relying on visual effects to show in the movies the places that we want,” Jam said.

The other thing that was witnessed was that the technology continues to get better, easier and cheaper to work with. We are able to do more today than we were able to do before.

Jam shared his experience of working with an Indian VFX studio (Famulus) for the first time, that too in the times of the pandemic, for his project The Misfits. Showering praises he said that the artists were very responsive, they took direction very well. He mentioned that the complexity of the shots, some of which were quite difficult, was worth appreciating.

“I have to say that the work that was done was extremely well priced,” he mentioned.

Mukherjee mentioned about his upcoming work with Pooja Entertainment, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, which is a remake of an old Hindi film, being taken into the world of Metaverse with an aim to create a different kind of cinema experience.

Asked if there will be a paradigm shift with rising digital platforms and Metaverse, Jam said, “I think it (Metaverse) is definitely not a fad. The more we learn about it, the more it will be a part of our fabric. The streamers, I think, are terrific in one aspect and devastating in another aspect. It’s not a very popular thing to say. Some of the things they are doing are really harming independent film space.”

In terms of payments it becomes difficult for the independent filmmakers to compete with these giants. Jam also appreciated the kind of content the streamers are coming up with.

On this he further said, “I think the money that is being pumped into content now, is an astronomical amount of money that has been set this year.”

The producer who has been working with Warner Bros., DreamWorks, New Line Cinema and so on opines that it is a really dynamic as well as challenging time to be in the business.

Talking about the effect of these advancements on the traditional theaters, Jam said, “I don’t think theater will die, it will change. But I do think that the social aspect of going to a theater cannot be replicated.” He will never want to watch Dune on a small phone but on a big giant screen with perfect lighting and sound system.

Asked if there has been a shift with the use of technology, CGI, VFX towards making movies that are big with different worlds, characters, Jam said, “For me there never has been a shift. I think visual effects are a really critical and important tool. But they are just tools. If you don’t have a good story or a good script, in my opinion none of that matters.”

He thinks it’s really critical to find a blend of the two (the creatives and technology).

As a piece of advice to the screenwriters, he suggested that they must read the scripts of the films that did well and also the ones that did not. Now everything is very easily available.

“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. You should be with people from whom you can learn new things,” Jam concluded his conversation at the VAM Summit 2022.