In the book, ‘The Entertainment Economy-How Mega-Media Forces Are Transforming Our Lives,’ author Michael J. Wolf, amplifies the fact that media and entertainment industries have moved beyond defining culture to decisively drive the global economy.
However, the impact of the pandemic on the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry across the world cannot be overstated. Yes, there are signs of recovery but it will take some time for recovery before supply chains can be restored, and we can just focus on the business of entertainment without care. We also need to find ways to make films with more financial and logistical ease.
The question is whether this crisis will compel countries to recognize the social and economic importance of the creative economy and reconfigure their policies to support it more substantially? As the UNESCO piece rightly states, the creative economy must be strongly supported by “coherent, effective and integrated public policies.”
Incidentally, is it not a tad ironic that 2021 is the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development and yet we seem to be still in the woods as far as a post-pandemic road map is concerned? Even though the creative economy contributes 3% of the global GDP, we are still dealing with an uncertain future.
What we need to recover faster is increased, targeted investment in the creative sector. We need support from governments across the world so that we can continue to shoot in their countries with their logistical and fiscal support.
Creative industries like television and cinema are not just unique economic engines but also soft powers that need resources, tax credits and financial aid to continue to generate cross-cultural business opportunities and to build bridges of communication and artistic exchange between different geographies, communities and cultures.
Countries like France are taking a lead in supporting their creative industries by pledging 2 billion euros to a cultural recovery plan which I am sure will benefit the cinema industry as well. The Czech Republic is busy welcoming international units with the added incentive of a 20% cash rebate. A tax incentive of 35% has reportedly brought in $623 million to New Mexico via the entertainment industry this year. That this will also increase consumer interest in New Mexico’s heritage and culture is a bonus. Bali is inviting investors to build film studios to bolster the local economy.
The Australian government has given over $665 million in rebates to the film industry over the last decade and the South Korean Film Council has announced a $17.8 million stimulus package for its film industry. All across the world, film commissions are cropping up to serve production companies and coordinate public and private services for film shoots.
In India, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Film Facilitation Office seems to be a good idea to attract foreign production units. In 2019 alone, more than 10 foreign films were shot in India including Christopher Nolan’s, ‘Tenet.’ What is also helping is a single-window clearance online system for international film shoots, offered by the National Film Development Corporation operated FFO.
What we need in India is fiscal incentives, rebate style structures, and holistic support so that more international players are drawn to us and engage with us through cross-investment streams and creative synergies. This way, we can build a robust production sector that is geared to cater to content creators from across the world.
Film tourism is an unexplored goldmine for India and will shine a much-needed light on the country’s topographical diversity. For instance, ’Life of Pi’, partly shot in Pondicherry and Munnar in Kerala, attracted a huge inflow of international tourists post the film’s release and there is so much more in India that can be showcased.
We also need to update, expand and modify old ways of functioning so that we can become a global destination for creative and economic partnerships.
In the end, however, it is not just the incentives but also the ease of getting those incentives, clearances, and permissions that will attract more global partnerships. We need to create infrastructural and institutional support, at a national and state level so that a sustainable ecosystem can benefit both international productions and the local economy.
About the author: Vivek Krishnani is the Managing Director of Sony Pictures Films India. He has led the Studio to venture into regional productions, helped upscale the acquisition and distribution pipeline, and ensured revenue maximization of Hollywood releases in India. He is also a TEDx Speaker, a passionate foodie, and an avid traveller with a keen interest in spirituality.