Apurva Chandra, secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on Thursday confirmed plans to create a national streaming platform within the National Film Development Corporation’s website. The move is integral to plans to promote India as a global content hub.
“We plan to do that on the website so that not only did NFDC co-produce and produce films, but we also curate and present shorts and other films. Because some of those who produce in India can’t get a market otherwise. The NFDC platform can be used to focus on such talent and also promote good quality content,” Chandra told Variety.
He spoke in Goa to a panel at NFDC’s Film Bazaar discussing the proposal for a content hub.
Chandra also reaffirmed a focus on supporting the animation, visual effects and gaming sectors.
“In India the cost would be a quarter or a fifth of what it is in the US and Europe and the quality is actually comparable to Hollywood movies. So that’s very big, even for the gaming industry. Each game is content-driven innovation, running on very heavy production. India is already doing a lot, but we have created a task force and we are going to submit the report to the government in about 10 days,” he said.
“We will then implement it with a focus on further training and also on education, so that more and more people can practice this profession. We have a very talented group of people who are skilled in animation and visual effects, which is a cross between technical skills and creative skills. Currently we have about 150,000 people working in this sector with potential to scale it up to a million or more,” Chandra said.
Chandra was joined on the panel by MD Ravinder Bhakar of the NFDC; Uday Singh, MD of the Motion Picture Association; Apoorva Bakshi, managing partner of Awedacious Originals; festival programmer Paolo Bertolin and XYZ’s head of international acquisitions Todd Brown. The session was moderated by Variety‘s Naman Ramachandran.
On the prospect of India becoming a content hub, Singh said, “We have world-class crews and special effects expertise that can take advantage of the time difference between Los Angeles and India. We are very well prepared to become competitive on the global stage. So instead of just pushing, we have to pull. It’s not just about bureaucracy, it’s about rolling out the red carpet.”
Bakshi, whose co-producer was the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series ‘Delhi Crime’, said, ‘India is already a content hub. But we can do a lot more internally to support content creators, especially when it comes to nurturing stories on a local level. Story development labs need to be set up at the federal and state levels. I think private labs are coming together to fill this gap.”
The panelists agreed that a major international project would bring attention to India as a location for filmmaking.
“It will take some time and a few projects to get people to take a location seriously. Look at the change in New Zealand’s production community after ‘Lord of The Rings’. They are known for their very reliable setup. In India you have high incentives, a highly skilled, English speaking crew. Producers just need to be able to trust that the system can work,” said Brown.