The brief that goes out at a macro level is ‘ I want the best film ever.’
My largest learning curve was when we walked away from a film where the client asked us to squeeze the costs. We didn’t want it to be tacky and since I thought it was a great cost for the film, we actually walked out.
It’s a joint responsibility to look at creativity in context of an idea rather than execution. The Adani Fortune ad shot inside a hospital was a great idea simply told. That’s what filmmaking should be.
That was shot in Budapest.
It shouldn’t have been. In certain cases, when you have external locations it does make sense. It’s a classic example of did this need to go out of the country?
What are the factors that buffer up the cost of a film?
Production house margin is the largest component after director fee. No one can touch these since the belief is that if you do, the film can go awry. It’s a sword hanging over the head of clients. We work on tangible costs. Should you be using a three camera setup? Should this talent be used? Procurement are the brands cost custodians and ask tough questions. They say “The brand wants a Rs. 4 crore film but we can’t be making three of these a year. How do we manage costs?”
Location and shoot days are another big element. We know they can happen in two days, but sometimes they are spread over four to five. And then there are international directors and stylists. A marketer who doesn’t have an understanding of these cost levers ends up paying more.
Around a decade ago, big budget films were believed to be more noticeable. Given that ad films on TV have a shorter lifespan, how do agencies and marketers justify large budget films?
There are two bits: do you need to make a greater number of films to excite the consumer who is attention starved? How do you create something that’s creatively clutter busting? Both are answered by creative concepts. Costs are secondary. Large budget films have nothing to do with length. You can have a short film with elements that inflate costs.
Many Indian ad folk claim the entire debate about budgets is redundant since even our most expensive films aren’t even half the most expensive films made in the USA or the UK.
That’s ridiculous. Production cost of a film much like other costs is linked to consumption of that economy. Let’s compare consumption and GDP of those economies with ours. How can you compare the two? India is not an economy of extravagance. You can’t make that comparison.
Those statements typically have a corollary about that being the reason why Indian agencies can’t beat foreign films at awards
I’m completely passive to the idea of saying ‘we are in the business of competing for awards on the global platform on the basis of costs.’ I’m in the business of making sure the communication delivers to the brands objectives. At the same time, we’ve had the likes of Prasoon and Piyush putting up great creative at a global platform without making a film as expensive as a $ 9 million 60 seconder (the most expensive Super Bowl film this year).
We often have people — ad filmmakers mainly — tells us that they were so invested in the project that when they ran out of money, they put in their own cash to make up the shortfall.
I don’t believe that at all. The Cokes of the world are telling agencies to own the output and the outcome and take greater compensation. In that scenario, it’s perfect. If you make an expensive film and it doesn’t deliver, it burns your pocket as much as that of the marketer. That is the structure of the future. Once that happens, I’d like to see how many creative guys would claim to spend out of the pocket.
There’s no category information on average spend or benchmarks. How can a client and why should a client take decisions in isolation? Why don’t agencies give category benchmarks to marketers on production? Because it will kill their business.