The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in the country which has resulted in an economic calamity has brought the entertainment industry to its knee. Now, as the film industry is trying to take stock of the situation and looking at the way forward, they feel that downsizing in every aspect is what will help them minimise further losses.
PAY CUTS ACROSS BOARD
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar feels that this economic carnage can only be dealt with when producers imply budgetary constraints, starting with slashing remuneration of actors, in relation to all there announced and upcoming projects.
“The pricing has to be considered and there’ll be will a roll back in everyone’s cheque from the very top to the bottom. There’ll be negotiations in terms of budget. I’ve seen actors who hike their price after a couple of hit films and producers have been willing to give them that as well,” says the director, adding that now the case is totally different. “Everyone wants to work and do movies, so the economic dynamism has to change,” he says.
— Atul Mohan (@atulmohanhere) June 4, 2020
Even A-list actors in the industry will not be exception to the rule, it seems, as trade analyst Atul Mohan points out that the chunk of the budget of a film goes in paying actors.
“There’s no return now, so producers will have to cut down on the actors’ fee, so that the product remains profitable. Therefore, actors will have to understand that since they take a good amount of the upfront fees, they’ll have to compromise for the sake of the films,” Mohan explains.
Cutting down on the number of people on film set is another way to ease the burden off producers. Actor Rakul Preet Singh says it has to be the top option for the initial period at least.
“I think people have ended up becoming a little more productive because of the home work culture. Then you don’t end up wasting too much time on set having too much people around. That’s the only way I see things moving at a faster rate,” she says.
However, she is quick to add that while some films will be able to manage with a smaller set, “Some have huge sets erected like my film Indian 2. I don’t know how they will minimize crew there. For my Hindi film with Arjun (Kapoor) we will be able to manage with a smaller crew.”
Mohan also shares how the celebrity entourage culture has to end in such times of crisis as they also burn a hole in the producers’ pocket.
“These actors have a staff of ten people accompanying them and their daily payment has to be taken care by the producer, not the actor. This is an unnecessary burden on the producer, who has to pay upto Rs 50 lakhs for the entourage of just one actor for the whole shoot,” he says.
With as many as three films lined up for release this year including Indoo Ki Jawani and Satyameva Jayate 2, producer Monisha Advani will have to exercise prudence when it comes to the finances.
“It has been over 100 days since we’ve seen any inflow of income and that is the case for most production houses, for most technicians, artistes, and that’s a very scary thought. In that context, we should load our business less to last longer,” she says, adding how she’s encouraging working from home, “as it may control the overhead which can be diverted towards paying salaries”.
“It has been over 100 days since we have seen any inflow of income…that is a very scary thought” –Producer Monisha Advani
Producer Anand Pandit, who has two films, lined up for release — Chehre and The Big Bull, says for future films, one of the things that he has decided to do is to go with domestic shoots.
“We’ve put all plans of foreign shoots on hold indefinitely. However, I’m very particular that we should try and avoid as much as possible to steer clear of tampering with the essence of the script. As far as marketing costs of films are concerned, I haven’t taken a final call because a lot will depend on external conditions and what is allowed once restrictions are eased. I think those guidelines will determine what kind of marketing tools are used,” he says.
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