Wednesday, 14 September 2016

‘Little Directors’ to carve their future through film-making

A dream concept shared by me at the Impact Evaluation Workshop of Entertainment-Education and Mass Media Behavior Change Campaigns held at Mexico in May 2016 is bearing fruits in India.

After taking over as the CEO of Children's Film Society, India (CFSI), I was instrumental in taking filmmaking to the doors of schools and children from marginalised sections so as to bring about a behavioural change in these youngsters.

The Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) delivered an impact evaluation workshop in Mexico City, Mexico, aligning researchers, practitioners and producers from entertainment hubs including Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood to design and evaluate behavior change campaigns under a new DIME program: Entertainment Education.

I was one of the speakers at the workshop in Mexico. My presentation on the concept of Little Directors and bringing children from the marginalised sections to the mainstream through creativity, which in turn impacts their behavioural pattern through communication, received appreciation and encouragement from delegates representing renowned universities from different parts of the world as well as executives from the Impact Evaluation wing of World Bank.

When the same concept was introduced in Patna recently, my dreams got wings. It was an experience worth remembering for children of various schools as they laughed, clapped and jumped in ecstasy when they watched a series of children films at the three-day Children’s Film Festival organised by CFSI and Vishwa Samvad Kendra Patna from September 7 to 9. I am working on taking this concept to more number of villages across Bihar in the days to come.    

Hundreds of children from various schools in Patna enjoyed movies such as ‘Gopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa’ by Shilpa Ranade, ‘Ek Tha Bhujang’ directed by Mohinder Pratap Singh, Rajan Khosla’s ‘GATTU’, ‘Kaphal’ directed by Batul Mukhtiyar, ‘Pappu Ki Pagdandi’ directed by Seema Desai, ‘Krish, Trish & Batliboy’ directed by Munjal Shroff and ‘Tilakraj Shetty’. A special screening was organised for the children of Rainbow Homes orphanage apart from the regular screenings.

Through these film shows, I try to ignite the creativity of children by exposing them to entertainment films made for them from all across the world. Through the Little Directors concept, we are looking forward to teach film-making to children under the brand.

The interaction with more than 100 students of Rainbow Foundation and the experience in conducting this workshop was worthwhile and fruitful. These children are from the marginalised sections of the society; have either been orphaned or disowned by their parents. I was surprised to see that these children bonded positively with the organisers and showed keen interest in unleashing their creativity. We realised that these children can seriously take up creative art forms like film making to shape their future.

It was very encouraging for us to see that children outside the normal school system also showed interest in creativity. What was even more surprising was that 80 per cent of the children from Rainbow Foundation were girls, who were keen to know more about the Little Directors, which spoke about young children making films and winning awards at the international platform.

CFSI will soon start holding workshops for children of Bihar to impart the knowledge of this art form.
We will conduct a five-day workshop under the Little Directors concept on film making in various villages in Bihar. Children in groups will make theme-based films, which will be screened in the respective villages. The World Bank Impact Evaluation team will evaluate the behavioural change and the impact movie making has had on these children after six months. Another evaluation will be carried out after the next few months to again assess impact it would have had on the lives of these children.

We are hopeful that there’ll be a huge participation in this exercise to bring out the creativity of these children.

Films for children have a message and huge impact on the growth of a child. It's a medium that helps develop learning of a child through an audio-visual mechanism. There is huge audience for children movies in the country. Filmmaking as a medium helps cultivate the creativity of a young child.

To sum it up, I feel that this concept is the next level of making a real-time change in the personality development as well as career development of children.

- Dr. Shravan Kumar, CEO, Children's Film Society, India


Monday, 30 May 2016

CFSI films on Tata Sky

As you all are aware, CFSI provides value based entertainment to Children. Three Internationally acclaimed CFSI films Gattu, Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa and Pappu ki Pugdandi will be shown on Tata Sky.

CFSI for the first time is screening its films on Tata Sky and with this initiative, we are making rigorous attempts to be on all satellite and terrestrial channels.

·         Gattu is a story of an illiterate poor child who struggles to maintain his dignity between the two incompatible worlds of poverty and solace of schooling. He dreams of ruling the supreme blue sky with his kites…



·         Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa is an animated movie about two musicians Goopi and Bagha, who are banished from their kingdoms because their music is cacophonic. These banished musicians then play their instruments in the jungle and impress the King of Ghosts who grants them many boons…



·         Pappu ki Pugdandi is a story of a young boy named Pappu meets a genie, he thinks all his problems will be taken care of but the genie had had other plans for him which makes Pappu realize that there are no shortcuts to happiness and he identifies his own strength…



Enjoy watching these films on Tata Sky.

Channel. 602 and 296 in HD
Channel. 603 and 297 in SD


Date
Timing
Film
15.06.2016
00:05
Pappu ki Pugdandi
15.06.2016
07:35
Pappu ki Pugdandi
15.06.2016
10:51
Pappu ki Pugdandi
15.06.2016
14:07
Pappu ki Pugdandi
15.06.2016
17:23
Pappu ki Pugdandi
15.06.2016
20:39
Pappu ki Pugdandi
15.06.2016
22:25
Pappu ki Pugdandi
17.06.2016
03:05
Gattu
17.06.2016
08:10
Gattu
17.06.2016
11:20
Gattu
17.06.2016
14:30
Gattu
17.06.2016
17:40
Gattu
17.06.2016
20:50
Gattu
18.06.2016
00:05
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
18.06.2016
03:35
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
18.06.2016
06:30
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
18.06.2016
09:25
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
18.06.2016
12:20
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
18.06.2016
15:15
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
18.06.2016
18:10
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
18.06.2016
21:05
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya
19.06.2016
00:05
Gattu
19.06.2016
02:55
Gattu
19.06.2016
07:00
Gattu
19.06.2016
09:50
Gattu
19.06.2016
12:40
Gattu
19.06.2016
15:30
Gattu
19.06.2016
18:20
Gattu
19.06.2016
21:10
Gattu
20.6.2016
00:05
Pappu ki Pugdandi
20.6.2016
07:35
Pappu ki Pugdandi
20.6.2016
10:51
Pappu ki Pugdandi
20.6.2016
14:07
Pappu ki Pugdandi
20.6.2016
17:23
Pappu ki Pugdandi
20.6.2016
20:39
Pappu ki Pugdandi
20.6.2016
22:25
Pappu ki Pugdandi


**********

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Seeds For Cinema: An Interview With Dr Shravan Kumar, CEO, CFSI



“At CFSI we not only want to make films but also make film makers”
-Dr. Shravan Kumar

On the fifteenth of February, Director, Producer and Managing Director of ACEE The Third Eye, Vinta Nanda and Program Outreach Manager, Deepa Bhalerao sat down with DR. Shravan Kumar, The CEO of the Children’s Film Society India (CFSI) to discuss CFSI past present and future. The conversation throws open interesting insights about filmmaking and the democratization of content, outlining and navigating a nebulous and changing entertainment landscape.
ACEE is set to collaborate with CFSI on the creation of new content; and digital as well as grass-root outreach.
Vinta Nanda- Tell us about your journey with the CFSI
Dr Shravan Kumar- When I found that CFSI had a potential of reaching out to the audience of children, we did some interventions in the mainstream as well as in the North-East of India (for which we have a separate project), which are gaining results in the terms of acceptability by the global audience.
We have recently held the Golden Elephant Film Festival where we had 1204 entries coming from 80 countries. This tells us that we have been able to portray our commitment to the cause of films for children in the world audience.
But it all began when I could see that there are certain strengths of this organization, which could be leveraged. One strength is that this is an exclusive organization not just in this country but in the whole South Asian continent which caters to content for children.
These days, because of the decay of the traditional joint family system there is a void. Being a culturally rich continent, there has always been the practice of passing on values in the family through storytelling. Earlier, this was done by grandparents, uncles, aunts and other members of the older generation. This no longer happens owing to urbanization. An agency is now required to do it and fill the vacuum.
This could be filled by an organization which is able to give the right kind of messaging through the content
You only have some content on television which is not suitable for our values, and is therefore not relevant. There is a need for the creation of content. This is why we felt the need to create that content. I felt the need to organize this business of content making in the CFSI and we succeeded in a big way.
In June 2012, when I joined, the movie Gattu had just been completed, and had won a special mention at Berlinale. So I decided that we should go to the market, and into the theatres. We needed to tell the stakeholders that we mean business, and that we are in the business of content making. We ensured everything that was possible for making this movie widely accessible to children and ensure the greatest number of footfalls in the theatres. We had chosen Rajashri as our distributor.
There were also certain learnings. This was our first theatrical release. It was released in 100 screens. In the 57 year history of this organization, and 250 films behind us, no such theatrical release had ever taken place.
All this was in the first month of my taking over. Among the lessons we learnt was that we already have a niche audience waiting, and we have the product in our kitty. Only the medium had to be built between the audience and the producer. This whole exercise made me realise that we need not go through the traditional way of involving the P& A (publicity and advertising) partner as also a distribution partner, since that kind of a ball game required a lot of expenditure. In this genre of children’s films, the kind of funds that are being put in are not large enough to support an equally large amount of P& A.
On an average that time, the CFSI films were being funded within Rs 1 Crore. Now we have increased the budget to between Rs 2 and 2.5 Crores. If you have to spend another Rs 2.5 Crores, it is not a viable strategy to reach out.
We realised that we can do without that. The audiences is sitting in the schools and the multiplexes are almost empty in the morning shows. What we needed to do was to convince the principals to send the children to the nearby multiplexes, and this would work for both. We could bargain a very good price for those morning shows. We will then not only cut the cost of distribution, but also not incur the expenditure of the P& A.
This way, we were able to do a very good marketing. So we did the first pilot project for the film ‘Gattu’ with the Ryan Group of Schools and the PVR chain of multiplexes. We did 12 shows in 2 weeks and both CFSI and PVR Cinemas had a net income of Rs 3.5 lakhs each. Not a single penny was spent on P& A. If revenues from 12 shows gave Rs 3.5 lakhs, this could be multiplied further. This way, it has the potential to become the 100 Crore Club, if we are able to do it.
By this time, I had done another very good film- Goopi Gawaiya, Baagha Bajaiya’ which was an animation project. The effort was to now to increase the quality of our content. Only then could I do a global positioning and global marketing. 

Goopi Gawaiya was fortunate enough to be almost invited to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Cameron, being the artistic director of TIFF had come to Mumbai to scout for films. Our film which was not even in the final cut at that time. He saw the unfinished cut and invited it for the TIFF.
We got good reviews for the film at TIFF and I was invited to speak at TIFF Industry. However, I decided that I will perfect my own system and only then will go and share my experiences, which I did, last year.
We had very good collaborative talks with Ms Elizabeth Muskala, Director of TIFF Kids. She is now gung-ho about partnering with CFSI, especially in the other initiative within the film festivals- films to be made by the Little Directors – the children themselves. This is an investment in the future.
When you are thinking of strengthening an organization, you have to invest in the future. These Little Directors will become the bulwark for spreading the children’s film movement. Even today this idea is so enthralling, that some of the mainstream Bollywood filmmakers have been associated because of their children getting into this space. For example, in this context, Samaira Kapur was here this time, so Karisma had come and Kareena as also Babitaji.
I introduced the concept of Little Directors in the 18th International Golden Elephant Film Festival in 2013 when I became the Festival Director. Along-with this, there was another concept of the ‘Festival Hotel’, where children from all across the world, 500 of them come to the festival. This includes children from villages who may never have seen a cinema hall. And on the other hand, there are others from the international community like Chicago. The children stay together with the international directors, filmmakers and national film delegates. This is an energising exposure for both the children and the delegates. I have received feedback from the adult delegates, where they have said that the energy they felt being in the hotel, by living there, was something commendable. This serves the purpose of making the environment of the festival truly a celebration of childhood.
Both these prime innovations, introduced in the festival curation, were repeated in the 19th edition of the Golden Elephant Film Festival and the initiative to reach out to more and more audiences resulted in the increase in the numbers. From the 500 to 600 entries that were being received before the 18th edition, the numbers increased to 894 in the 18th Edition itself. The 19th Edition saw much more.
We did not have to hire anybody from outside. I made the system automatic. This automation resulted in entries and most of the content coming to us online. We showed this content to the Selection Committee from which they selected the finalists. This was the next big challenge that was met. 

The Selection Committee comprised of senior filmmakers, and film critics. Ruma Da Cunha, senior film critic, Mr Ram Mohan, senior animation professional, Mr V. J. Sawant, another senior animation person, Ms Rinki Bhattacharya, our vice chairperson and noted filmmaker Bimal Roy’s daughter were some among the august members of the Selection Committee.
Vinta NandaWhat are your plans for the new productions you are doing for the coming year?
Dr Shravan Kumar- I have decided that we should pool in the resources and the strengths of CFSI with market leaders so we have more market presence.
We have been able to really put our house in order, and made good content, and gone to the best festivals in the world. So we have tested our qualitative strengths. Now are trying to build bridges with the market leaders who have a presence.
Vinta NandaSo what are the projects in the offing?
Dr Shravan Kumar - We have already greenlighted one which is called ‘School Chalega’ with Satish Kaushik. We will market the film together with him. There is one more in the pipeline, which is yet to be finalised.
But beginning April 2016, we will have 4 or 5 projects where we will have a kind of synergy and ask the marketing people to do the P& A. We will make world class movies and take them to various markets abroad.
The last year, we had appointed a consultant for taking our films to Cannes Film Festival. This year we are going to the European film market at Berlinale.
We will be reaching out to various film festivals and markets which provide the platforms where the sales agents from the world converge. We can show them our product and if they are interested, take it ahead to the marketing section.
Vinta NandaSo you have told us of your plans of reaching out to the children across the entire spectrum through the theatres and through all the possible mediums. I know that you have plans to reach out to children who are even out of this discourse- the children who don’t have access to theatres or any other mode of communication. Can you tell us a little about that?
Dr Shravan Kumar - You have raised a pertinent question. As you rightly said, we have already worked on our methodology for this.
CFSI has been carrying out a program of exhibiting films in Municipal schools from the time it began to as recently as the year 2007, where the charges were just a token amount of Rs 5 per child. After 2007, the films are being shown for free. However, despite this program we were not able to really connect to those who are interested in watching our films. For this program, we used to take the help of district authorities and then show the films to the people selected by these authorities.
Our aim now was to be like the multiplexes or theatrical shows where people go and buy a ticket to see the movie of their choice.
We felt that our program for the Municipal School should be such that any child sitting in any corner of the country should be able to see a film of his /her choice (rather than we just showing a particular film to them). I was trying to make the system really accessible to the children of the Municipal school sector as well as for those outside the school system, because much of the creativity lies there.
Also, not just film appreciation, but I would want the children to also participate in the filmmaking through the Little Directors program. To enable this, we have launched a mobile app on November 14, 2015 during the Film Festival at Hyderabad at the hands of Kareena Kapoor, who is also the brand ambassador of UNICEF.
Now for a minimum number of 25 persons/children in a school or a locality, a Self Help group can make a request and we will arrange for the movie to be shown at a theatre nearby. Alternatively, they can get our content on any other platform (for example LCD) and show it to their audience. Mobile technology has made it easy for content to be reached to the remotest corner without the need for much paraphernalia at the infrastructure available to them.
3G is available throughout most of the country and this way I am sure that the interiors of the country can be penetrated, and we can facilitate the generation of a creative revolution in every child, and we are able to make little directors out of them, once we expose them to the kind of content that relates to them.
We are making beautiful content after deliberations. Sometimes it takes 6 months to lock a script itself, with it going to and fro between the writer and the director.
We make movies in all our national languages. We encourage the emergence of innate stories that are lying within communities, so that these stories watched by that audience.
Vinta Nanda- Do you have plans to do short digital films? That way we can include a lot of young people in the process. Digital films are doing very well and these short 5 or 10 minute films can be made in multiple numbers. Is the CFSI planning something like that?
Dr Shravan Kumar- The idea behind Little Directors is where we encourage children to participate in films made on digital platforms. These films are mostly 2 to 10 minutes in duration each which we package and show, each package being of a half an hour duration.
Vinta NandaAnything episodic like TV Serials?
Dr Shravan Kumar- We have just commissioned a TV serial ‘Aalu Kachalu Beta Kahaan Gaye Thay. It is a jasoosi (investigative) serial, where every episode will be a different story. This will be telecast as a web series and also on satellite channels and other platforms, but primarily intended as a web series.
We have plans of making films of short duration by children which will be funded by us. To achieve this objective we have made the organization accept at the policy level, films made by children to qualify for grants under the head -production. So the short films made by children will be entitled to grants like other big filmmakers. This will serve as a great enabler.
Vinta NandaWhat would you like to say to industry of entertainment?
Dr Shravan Kumar- Whenever I have interacted with the entertainment industry I have seen that they are all interested in making content for children. Where they somehow become reluctant finally in executing is their inhibition to take risks because it is not yet an established practice, so the return on investments, they say, are not guaranteed.
But I can say that there is a research by an organization in Europe conducted over the last ten years which has done a survey of 10,000 films, which has concluded that children’s films give 5 times more return on investment than a film made for a general audience.
So this is my recommendation to them- Don’t be apprehensive about return on investment because that is the only thing that is inhibiting you. This research is well documented and available on the net.
If they will start making films for children that are liked by parents, then they will come in droves to see these films.
I ask them to come forward and start making films. CFSI is always available to partner, and to provide the enabling environment.
Source: The Daily Eye Team, February 24 2016, 6:31 pm

http://thedailyeye.info/post.php?id=46eb595159d0f3b1&title=Seeds-For-Cinema:-An-Interview-With-Dr-Shravan-Kumar,-CEO,-CFSI

Sunday, 22 November 2015

What made #19ICFFI a landmark?

Dr Shravan Kumar looks back at the week gone by at this edition of the children’s film festival in Hyderabad


Over 2.5 lakh children saw our films
We reached out like never before as we set a new attendance record for ourselves: Over 2.5 lakh children watched the set of films we laid out in the 19th ICFFI 2015 in Hyderabad.  The programme content and structure was widely acclaimed by the public and critics both. The fact that jury member Satish Kaushik even postponed his flight to stay back and watched every film like a student made it an absolute pleasure! So much so that everybody is already reaching out to us and our celebration in 2017.

Raising relevant questions at open forums
The open forums at the 19th ICFFI 2015 had a lot of interesting debates – be it with policy makers or theater people or even the film makers who brought up very relevant queries and concerns. We ensured that all questions found answers or atleast were documented to be reviewed by those concered.

Be it 360 degree marketing of films, where we learnt lessons from the commercial success of Chotta Bheem through Samir Jain of Green Gold or film maker Nishit Takia who shared his difficulties faced on distribution in India: “It is truly difficult to get screens in India. Our film in China was screened in 12000 screens simultaneously. Children’s cinema hasn’t taken a form of paid entertainment in India.” And I understood his heartbreaking dilemma!

Moderator and curator Ashish S K – a film maker in his own right rounded it aptly when he said the digital platform is changing the way Indian content is being consumed and on the type of screen “We have to now make episodes/videos for 7 minutes rather 22 minutes to hold their attention!”

Making workshops count!

The workshops held for 5 days at Jawahar Bal Bhavan brought in the best quality of teachers to the forums. As I did my rounds, I was happy to watch the progress and interact with the young children delighted at this opportunity. And also glad to have an answer to a question raised by the Class X student of Mahboobia Girls Government School in Hyderabad – Bushra Begum. Bushra who is in love with animation, was thrilled with the animation workshop set out in our schedule, practicing even after class ended and even sharing her lessons with her neighbours and friends. She asked me with much concern, “How can I continue this learning after the workshop?” Luckily, I was able to reach out to the IT secretary in Telangana to look at a revised way to include animation in the school curriculum. And this truly is the power of these interactions – where the voice of the children can reach those in power easily without getting lost in translation.

The Jury fought with us for more awards!
The members of the jury fought with us to award more films and people. They complained that some of the films, especially in Live Action category deserved more awards. We had to double the number of awards in the Little Director’s Category! They were persistent in their endeavor hounding me and the team every day last week to give out more awards. “How can we do our duty and be fair to the content and the outstanding movies we have seen?” was what I heard from every single jury member.  It was truly the final salute to the excellent curation of films done internally by the CFSI team who watched 1204 submissions to pull out the best. Hear film director Satish Kaushik also share his experience on video

The celebration continues
The number of requests received from people all over the country for us to ensure they see the movies is phenomenal. Our plan at CFSI is to start with Kashmir and take the films and the workshops to Kanyakumari – because the celebration of films and the celebration of children can never end!

Hope you will join us too in them and spread the mandate of promoting every child's right to entertainment across the country.