Classes Vs Masses

Dubbed as “The New Voice of Indian Cinema”, Abhay Deol is bucking the Bollywood trend with his offbeat movies that he claims demonstrate Hindi cinema with “A ‘real’ element”.

Famous for his roles in Dev.D, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Shanghai and Six Feet Under, among others, Deol is part of a new generation of Bollywood actors and actresses who are keen to portray a true message within a contemporary style that doesn’t fit the traditional Bollywood mold, often tackling edgy subjects that others tend to avoid.

photoThe Nephew of Hindi Cinema legend Dharmendra, Abhay has this week been in Birmingham to take in the Bollywood 100, a month-long festival that is celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema. We were lucky enough to catch up with him at a screening of Dev.D at Millennium Point.




”Media was a part of life, I was exposed to it younger but it wasn’t until later in my life where I decided upon to make it a career.”




The offbeat nature of Deol’s films can sometimes be of detriment to their overall commercial success. He was keen to speak of the importance of distribution and marketing of films in order for them to be enjoyed and appreciated by the target market, whether it be for the classes or for the masses, terminology Deol was eager to explain.

“You need to work with the right people, one that knows if they are making a film for the classes or for the masses. You should be clear as to who your audience is, in India you classify it as ‘is it a mass movie or a class movie?’ that’s the lingo I hear back at home, if it has songs, dances and is happy it’s for the masses, in a movie for the classes the actors and actresses are unlikely to sing.”

Deol stressed the importance of working with the right directors and producers when taking on a role and feels that it is important for the film to have a clear direction.

“An important part of the game is to know how to distribute and market your film, when producers cannot distribute nor market it right, then it doesn’t matter how good your film is, it really kills it.”

An important rule before making a film is to have an understanding of who the audience is. Sometimes it takes years after the film is completed to realise who the real audience is and therefore the wrong kind of target audience means the marketing and distribution lack direction.

Deol also spoke of the difficulties new unproven producers face when selling their film to a studio and the problems they can face with regards to control and freedom. When they do not yet have a proven track record in the industry, they are open to being exploited and dominated by studios who are reluctant to give up control of a film.

“When you are new producer working on a new subject, I’m not sure if you can have any control or say in what the studio wishes to do with your film. Sometimes a studio can bully a producer because the producer is new. You don’t want to be stuck with that.”

The Bollywood 100 in Birmingham continues throughout June and will capture the glitz, glamour, music, dance, drama and style of one of the biggest film industries in the world through screenings, events and workshops.


Words, pictures and video by Film Futures student Yossuana Aguilar

Selling the Idea: The Perfect Pitch

You’ve got the best idea for a film, ever, and you want to make it. Chances are you’ll have to pitch that idea to multiple people before it ever gets made.

What is the perfect pitch?

Here’s the wisdom from Will Massa, Damian Spandley, and David Pope at the Virgin Media Short Sessions.

We’ll give you the bad news first: it’s tough getting it right. You have to be charismatic, bold, and confident – everything your mother wanted you to be, but sadly aren’t.

The good news is that even if you’re not all of the above, you can still practice your pitch.

Don’t think of it as ‘pitching’, suggests David. Think of it as having a conversation with somebody, a conversation that ends up with you in a business relationship with that person. If you hate putting your ideas up for other people to judge, you’re not the only one – however, do keep in mind that everybody will be judging your film at some point, so it’s best to get used to the idea early on.

Pitching is a dark art, talking about yourself, about your work; some have it, others don’t. However, before you go bumbling about trying to convince a distributor to take your film – here’s what you can do.

  1. Understand your audience.
    That means the person you’re pitching to, not just your film’s audience. Do your research; find out what kind of films they buy, which genres they specialize in.
  2. Know all your references, and build a toolkit.
    It’s good to use examples that people are familiar with. If you’re selling a gangster film its ok to say “like Good Fellas” or “Godfather”- however, keep in mind that you better be able to match up to the references you provide, your little cousin Vinny is probably no Al Pacino, even if you are Francis Ford Coppola.
  3. Establish a hook.
    Which emotion are you aiming for? Decide on that, and make it sound good. If you’re pitching a comedy, make sure somebody laughs – confidence is key here.
  4. Divide and rule.
    If you’re pitching as a team, break up the pitch into different parts for the Producer and the Director. Producer answers the all-important “Who is the audience for the film” questions and the Director talks about the story, mood, and treatment. Remember, you will be judged on how you function as a team, how you will deliver. When you’re pitching, they’ll be thinking if the Director is clear enough about what he/she wants to do? If the producer knows his numbers and audience? A good way is to give examples and say we’re targeting the kind of people who’d go watch film X.
  5. Get your cast list together.
    Unless you have Angelina Jolie as the lead, it’s fine to not use names and say “Young, attractive, 35-year-old woman”. Get your cast list together with pictures and letter of intent/release forms.
  6. Film references.
    That includes references for mood, the visuals, and sound.
  7. Film synopsis.
    A short, beautifully written summary of what’s happening. Please spell check it, and get somebody other than a computer to read it before you send it in.
  8. Complete script.
  9. Online presence.
    Last but not least, make sure you have an online presence so people can look you up and check your work if they need to. Your showreel should be ready and transferable to multiple platforms.

Once you have all of the above, practice talking about it. Once you’re done, practice some more and then some more. Keep going until it’s as natural as scratching your nose.  Keep it short, and as long as it has to be – though shorter is better, you’ll know it’s long if they start checking their Facebook feeds, but then it’ll be too late.

Remember that all you are trying to do is tell the man with the money what your film is, where it will end up, who it’s for – and most importantly, how it’s going to make more money for him.

By Vasi Hasan

Hi Everybody!

So, in the infamous words of Dr Nick, ‘Hi everybody!’ For yes, this is a freshly minted blog created with the sole purpose of sharing the things we care about on our Film Futures: Pro course – AKA ‘MA in Film Marketing & Distribution‘ – at Birmingham City University’s NTI Birmingham.

So, what do we care about? Well, much like the masters degree we run, we like to concentrate on the start and end of a film’s life, albeit from the slightly less glamorous, but vastly important, perspective of a film Producer, Marketer or Distributor.

But of course, for those outside the film industry, such job roles can be somewhat more alien and mysterious than that of a Film Director or actor. Yet these are the roles that many film industries, such as the UK’s, are desperate to fill in order to truly build a successful and sustainable sector.

So, in a nutshell, that’s what we intend to use this little Film Futures blog for, demystifying the film industry with blog posts all about the distribution and marketing of film amidst the backdrop of ever-changing patterns of movie consumption by a increasingly cine-literate public.

Wish us a luck.