SIDDHARTHANANDKUMAR – VP Films and Television, SaregamaIndia and Producer at YoodleeFilms talked to us about the marketing of movies on OTT platforms, their future plans, and censorship on OTT platforms.
Ques1: Theatrical release and OTT release, as a production house you have experience in both. Can you pinpoint big differences between the two?
Apart from the obvious difference in the screen size, the critical difference lies in primarily the choice of subjects one gets to see in the two domains. In an OTT release, we as content creators are not bound by box office considerations of whether a subject – to use an oft-abused phrase – is ‘commercial enough’ . We are free to create narratives that dare to go left of center, taking on subjects that are at once relevant and engaging. There also lies a difference in the economies of scale of release in a theatrical. There is a certain amount of marketing spends that have to be sanctioned in along with print and distribution costs for a theatrical release. All this adds to the pressure of recovering the same from box office revenues. In an OTT release, this is obviously negated. Having said that, Yoodlee is open to both theatrical and OTT releases for all the films we make.
Ques2: In the absence of big stars, how do you plan out the marketing of a movie to be released on the OTT platforms.
The marketing for a film on an OTT release is determined in collaboration with the OTT platform we have partnered with. Our films are not dependent on stars, they are driven purely on the strength of the subject, and our marketing is geared towards that. We use digital where we can target who we are speaking to, radio and a healthy relevant dose of PR to talk about our films.
Ques3: In layman terms can you explain how do we measure the success of a movie on platforms like Netflix and Prime?
OTT partners don’t share numbers generally on the number of streams/ views a film has done. But if your movie featured in the Trending sections, and continues to feature there for a considerable amount of time, then you know that you have done something right! Also, the rating of the film on the platform, which is driven by users actually watching the film, is a good yardstick. The chatter that one picks up on social media is also an indicator of how well the film has been received.
Ques4: What is your content strategy like, when it comes to Originals indifference to the movie to be released in theaters.
Our strategy is simple: make relevant content to an ever-evolving millennial audience. Talk to them about issues that rankle them in their daily lives, but make it entertaining. OTT players have their own content strategy for Originals. Think given our track record with OTT platforms, we can safely say that our content finds a fit in many of these platforms as Originals. Whether it’s theatrical or OTT original, Yoodlee makes content that is stirring and daringly original. That’s our forte.
Ques5: Censorship on OTT platforms is one of the most discussed topics. Do you believe there should be censorship on online content and your views on exploitation of the freedom by filmmakers?
I feel censorship lies within the locus of your moral compass and how you define it in your craft. We are essentially filmmakers and content creators and me as a creator of a work of cinematic art- will have a definite viewpoint on what is important for my film, what it demands and what I need to include to get across my story. I also like to believe that I am a responsible filmmaker who is well aware of the cultural and social ramifications of the country we stay in. I feel censorship is terrible but it is that filmmakers respect the feelings and sensitivities of audiences and balance that with the demands of the story.
I think the onus to censor and the extent they would want to censor lies with each individual platform. For content creators like us we will go by the sanctity of the story and how best can we bring it to the screen without compromising on the creative vision. Case in point: two of Yoodlee Films – Ajji and Ascharyachakit had subject matters which were edgy and traversed unconventional routes. Both films are now available on Netflix because the films were true its milieu and it reflected relevant topics of our times. Like I have said I believe OTT platforms allow creative people and writers a platform where they can express their work without commercial trappings. So at Yoodlee we respect the filmmaker’s vision and do what’s best to express this on-screen responsibly.
Ques6: Other than your own production which is your favorite movie/web series that you watched lately.
Game of Thrones, Haunting of Hill House and Made in Heaven.
YoodleeFilms is one of the sought after production houses which has got 5 of their content-driven films on the OTT platform – Netflix. Out of which 2 are originals. All this in less than 2 years.
YoodleeFilms who have strongly believed in the mantra of fearless filmmaking as their brand philosophy. YoodleeFilms has stuck to its promise of producing and releasing content-driven films, be it ‘Ajji’, ‘Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz’ or ‘Brij Mohan Amar Rahe’, ‘Ascharyachakit’ last year or the soon-to-be-released ‘Noblemen’, ‘Habbadi’, ‘Axone’ and ‘Chhote Nawab’ this year. YoodleeFilms have also ventured onto the OTT platforms with films ‘Brij Mohan Amar Rahe’ premiering as a Netflix Original and ‘Ajji’ and ‘Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz’ and ‘Ashcharyachakit’ which is now streaming on Netflix. Hamid was their first theatrically release of 2019 which was received highly by critics and audiences alike.