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Taking the 'incubation' approach for creating entertainment content

Friday, 21 March 2014 - 10:20am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna
  • Vikram Malhotra

Nandan Singh, an assistant film director and script writer, is extremely excited about Abundantia Entertainment's approach to entertainment content creation. Singh, who is planning to make his own film, feels it's an interesting business model offering upcoming film makers (like him) an opportunity to work with like-minded entertainment professionals while also acting as a stepping stone to bring new-age, clutter-breaking film projects to reality.

"Finding industry support for first-time film makers is very challenging. While there are business incubation centres for other entrepreneurial initiatives, there is nothing like that for film / television talent.

Professional assistance from experts in the area of financing, marketing and distribution will certainly help budding media and entertainment industry talent bring their ideas to reality," said Singh.

Incorporated in August 2013 by former Viacom 18 Motion Pictures' head Vikram Malhotra, Abundantia Entertainment Pvt Ltd (AEPL) is India's first independent motion pictures studio to pioneer the incubation model of film making.

"The objective is to create winning partnerships with talent in all areas of making film and television content viz. writing, directing, producing, acting as well as distribution and marketing front. And for building this model, it is important that the confluence of content happens across consumption platforms. While starting with films, we will also seek to gradually operate across television and digital front in coming years," he said.

Abundantia's business model revolves around creating strategic talent-studio partnerships with directors (to start with). What it means is that AEPL curates and funds the film director's project post which partners in the downstream functions of marketing and distribution are brought on board to take the idea to its logical conclusion. At a later date, AEPL may also look to selectively distribute and market some of the films on its own.

With Crouching Tiger Motion Pictures as its strategic partner, AEPL has put together a slate of 11 films that will hit the market till fiscal 2016. These films carry a combined value of approximately Rs 250 crore with budgets ranging between Rs 8 crore to Rs 70 crore per film.

Top-lining the slate are projects with Neeraj Pandey (A Wednesday, Special 26), Shoojit Sircar (Vicky Donor, Madras Café) and Nikhil Advani(D-Day, Kal Ho Na Ho) as well as up-coming talent like Soumik Sen (Gulaab Gang) and a clutch of first-time directors. At various stages of production, the slate will witness releases starting as early as mid-2014. "The first two years will see approximately 50% of the slate getting released and the balance will hit the screens in the third year," said Malhotra.

To fund the slate, earlier this month, AEPL brought on board two strategic investors -- RW Media (promoted by Reena Wadhwa, wife of Ambit Group promoter Ashok Wadha) and Singapore-based private equity firm Callista Capital. The duo acquired significant minority stake (49.9%) in AEPL for an undisclosed sum while Malhotra retained management control with majority stake.

Malhotra said that funds raised from the two investors will also be used for future expansion in the television and digital space.

"We are also in the advanced stages of discussions for international collaborations on the television front. Talks are on with content creators and IP holders globally to bring in some of their fiction and format shows into India," said Malhotra.

In the initial phase AEPL will limit to creation and management of IP. The second phase will see the studio align with the right producers (on the television front) to take the IP / content on to production and subsequently to broadcast platforms.

"With an eye to that, we are simultaneously working on two areas on the digital front. One is creating platforms to bring consumers of content on to one channel while also working with the film / television talent to custom create content for mobile and other hand-held devices," he said.




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