Exclusive Interview conducted by Jody Michelle Solis
Rajeev Kamineni: From print to digital, is one of the transformations that I was personally witness to, when the industry stopped using actual prints/reels and moved on to completely digital content, there was a radical change in the industry. The medium opened up to several young and aspiring movie makers who gained access without prohibitive costs. Continuous improvement and advancement in software and IT also ensured that the process of movie making has become more accessible to many new entrants. However, the old adage that ‘content is king’, and ‘script is life’ still holds good. The technique of movie making might have become easier, but the craft of movie making still remains complex, and the ability to narrate a story with gripping screenplay is an art that is difficult to master for many movie makers. We have several movie makers who make a solid impact with their first movie, but unfortunately, fail in their sophomore effort for the simple reason that they did not pay attention to detail after getting the first break. Another significant change that I have witnessed first-hand is the professionalizing of the industry. Several professionals with formal training and experience have entered into the industry, and this has changed the approach and outlook of the industry, of course, it has changed for better.
StudentFilmmakers Magazine: What was one of the most important things you learned as a film producer?
Rajeev Kamineni: Just like in real life, success has many fathers, and failure is an orphan. But, the most important thing learnt was that during the production phase itself, we will have a gut feel whether the movie is going in the right direction or not. Each time we ventured into a production without a full bound, water-tight script and hoped to wing it as we go along, we faced a failure or a disaster. Whereas we never lost money when we scripted well, planned well, and executed well—even though the content might have received a lukewarm reception from the audience but still because of our control and execution, we were able to recover our investment
StudentFilmmakers Magazine: What was the most challenging problem solved as a film producer?
Rajeev Kamineni: Every phase of movie production is a challenge right from the script to release. There are different challenges at every stage, but for me personally, the biggest challenge was people management and ensuring that the creative and commercial interests are aligned. Many a time we ended up having a fall out with the director because of the sub optimal output delivered. If Director is the captain of the movie ship, then the producer is the owner of that ship, so it is very important that both the producer and director are on the same page. Creative tension is good for a quality output, but unfortunately, what starts out as a creative difference pans out into ego clash and lack of appreciation for the commercial risks and return, then the project heads towards risk terrain. Filming schedules, financing ventures, technical coordination – all these are challenges, but they appear to be minor challenges when confronted with the differences between the Director and the Producer. We succeeded sometimes in overcoming this challenge and failed sometimes..
StudentFilmmakers Magazine: If you could share your Top 3 Tips for aspiring producers, what would they be?
Tip 1: Hard work and preparation always pays off, and never enter into a project without solid preparation and willingness to work, day and night. There are no shortcuts, and shortcuts will only result in long complications.
Tip 2: Do not get into the industry enamored by the glamour of show biz or with the hopes of making a quick buck. Unfortunately, the failure rate in this industry is very high, so passion for the craft of movie making and moving up one step at a time is the only path to success.
Tip 3: Formal training is essential, training in project management, marketing and finance is essential for a producer, whereas for the technical team, formal training in their chosen area of expertise is a must. Before venturing into movie production, work as a production assistant or in the production department for at least two projects, and then venture into production. This will give a better appreciation of the pitfalls and pathways.
Rajeev Kamineni was actively involved in the production, marketing and business development of 14 movies in the Indian movie industry. He was a member of the board of the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF), and an organizing committee member of the Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF).
‘The Indian movie industry encompasses South, North, East and Western regions of India and it is much more than just Bollywood. I am glad that this book takes a holistic view and presents the span and depth of this industry.’ — Katragadda Prasad, President, South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce
One of the world’s most prolific creative industries, the Indian movie industry has received scant attention for its spirit of enterprise. Indian Movie Entrepreneurship addresses this omission.
For many readers, it might come as a surprise that the Indian movie industry is not just Bollywood and that it has several regional clusters, which are just as vibrant, with a significant output. The authors begin by outlining the contours of Indian cinema and the different regional language hubs that form part of the larger picture.
The reader is then offered a glimpse into the actual process of making a film from day zero to release day. The key players in the Indian movie ecosystem are analysed, with the central role of the producer highlighted. Concluding with a look into the future of the entrepreneurial process in the Indian movie industry, the authors illuminate the shifting parameters of distribution and exhibition.
Appealing to those interested in understanding the entrepreneurial journey of the Indian movie industry, the book provides a sneak peek into the business landscape of India more broadly.
‘Producers are the backbone of a movie industry and this book perfectly chronicles the challenges faced by movie producers’ ~Arya, Actor and Producer
‘In the past 2 decades, by organising the Chennai International Film Festival, we have successfully placed Chennai on the World map of Cinema. This book takes a step forward in recording the cinema legacy of Chennai and pointing to its historical significance.’ ~Emanadar Thangaraj, Festival Director, Chennai International Film Festival
‘Born and brought up in the amazing world of Indian cinema, for me it is riveting to read the incredibly challenging journey of a film entrepreneur that is captured very well in this book’ ~Sanjay Wadhwa, Third generation movie entrepreneur, financier, distributor and content aggregator