Pakistan’s media world is currently at the helm of top entertainment for its drama serials. The concepts and stories are gripping with their solid execution to capture not only the local but international market. With the network channels growing every day, the demand for new and improved content is on the rise. Along with that, our new and rising cinema is seeing an increase in number of films releasing per year with international recognition, and a growing cinema market. But that’s not all; we’re also experiencing a fast paced digital media entertainment which is also targeting films to be produced and made available for the viewer online.
Where does it put an average joe like myself to compete with gurus of the entertainment world? In a very tough spot. As a film maker, music producer, politician, IT consultant, and a television series producer, I can say the diverse portfolio and the journey to heading my own company 1NFLUENCE and partnering up with Moomal Entertainment, and also producing the first ever Pakistan International Film Festival has not been an easy one. The learning experiences have only made things better. From shooting on the streets alone with a DSLR, and managing post production solely, it has been a journey and a half to reach where I am today.
Anyone can become a C.E.O today, all one has to do is start your own company and voila you’re there, but there’s more to it. A C.E.O is a refined individual who not only heads a company, but excels at management, people skills, and carries a vision of subjects to execute in a timely manner along with team management, and above all has business sense to ensure a healthy financial model to grow the company. Especially when you’re dealing with the media world, where there is no concept of time, the production management requires patience and careful attention to execution. One bad mark will leave your viewer with an impression to last a lifetime. At least that’s what I experienced when I had written and directed my first feature film Thora Jee Le.
The attention to detail is necessary when it comes to media production. Your viewer is smart enough to understand the flow of the story, the dialogue delivery and the editing sequences. The attention span of your audience is quite short, so the grip on the story of the subject being executed has to be sharp and interesting. The content has to be appealing to spark dialogue for the viewer or a debate whether the message being delivered was worth everyone’s time. The producer has to ensure that the time invested to watching a television serial is worth it.
When it comes to film production, it gets riskier and tougher. I took a risk by launching seven unknown actors in my debut film with content which might have been socially relevant, but didn’t think about the aspect whether it was a subject for the masses. One has to understand what the audience demands. Films in Pakistan contribute heavily to weekend entertainment for everyone; which means your consumer starts paying for it, the moment he or she leaves their home with fuel paid, the refreshments purchased at the cinema, and then the ticket. That’s quite a bit of an investment for your average viewer, so a film maker has to ensure the film provides entertainment from start till the finish. However in my opinion we are still growing as a film market. We are yet to open doors to post production companies, sound recording companies, and film crews. We are unable to release films which do good business off festive holidays. There’s hardly any time left for PR and marketing for awareness and the film seems to bomb at the box office. All of this leaves a bad taste for the viewer, you’re judged as an incapable film maker and your audience loses trust in cinema altogether. That leaves very little room for local content. Therefore producing a film is a work of passion, dedication, massive commitment, and very careful attention to technical detail. Above all if your content is not good, you’ll have people walking out at interval.
Eventually we’ll have various film makers catering to different genres for all sorts of viewers, but it’ll take time and it won’t happen over-night. We have to understand that it hasn’t been that long to the revival of Pakistani Cinema, and we’re already aiming to compete with a tough neighbor like Bollywood. Comparisons at this stage with global cinema leaders are not required, especially when the cinemas in the country are growing. Our local young film makers are coming out and show casing their short films within festivals all over the world, and digital content has started to take leap as well. There is going to be a swift media revolution in no time, or maybe we are experiencing one already.
Hollywood witnessed one of the worst declines in cinema business in 2017 where your viewer decided not watch a film in a cinema, rather stream it online when made available. This makes way for digital media production which is the future of entertainment. Streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Youtube have become a booming business for new content; and is the way forward for shows and films combined. Even our Pakistani television serials are gaining massive viewership on Youtube. It’ll be a matter of time, our producers and directors start focusing on producing online content, but it is imperative to make it business feasible. I remember when I had started my company, my target was to produce online content, and that was 2015. Four years forward, we have Netflix original films being produced.
With television productions making their mark, and being globally recognized, producers need to focus on original online content. If we’re to compete with global media companies, it is imperative to follow the trends as well.