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‘We can take Indian short films to 70 million homes’

Rashmi Pratap Mumbai | Updated on November 29, 2018 Published on November 29, 2018

CARTER PILCHER, Chief Executive, Shorts International

When an investment banker falls in love with short films, the result is a global business built around selling short stories on screen. Carter Pilcher, who founded Shorts International in 2000, has turned the company into the world’s biggest distributor, broadcaster and producer of short movies. In a chat with BusinessLine, he talks about the uniqueness of the Indian market, partnership with Tata Sky, economics of short movies and why his India entry could turn around the fortunes of short film makers. Excerpts:

What makes India an attractive market for you?

There are a lot of reasons. India is our first market in Asia. We had looked at launching in China, Indonesia, and had other offers, but we did not find the right partners. We need to find people who have the same kind of sensibilities as us and are willing to take risks. We settled on India and Tata Sky as the best way forward.

Why are short movies gaining traction here?

Short movies are gaining traction everywhere. India has an amazing history of cinema. On top of that, you have an audience used to cinema. We have always developed our service around film creators — they tell real stories in the best possible way with the best technical means.

Here, in India, there is a growing class of emerging film-makers who are starting to take real risks in developing short movies, which are not the usual Bollywood movies. That was another big draw for us. We think there is a lot of room to expand and grow with the film industry here, which will be unique to any other place in the world.

How does the Indian market compare with global peers?

It is very different, I would say. India is such a big country that it has been a self-contained universe for decades. But Indian film-makers are starting to move into the mainstream and are changing.

They have an amazing talent of a very different kind of story-telling. It is fresh and challenging, and a new type of film making is happening here.

India already has many online platforms for short films, such as Pocket Films, HumaraMovie. What is it that sets you apart from the rest?

These providers have some of the best content and we are doing partnerships with them. We have brought all of them together on the Tata Sky ShortTV platform and are in the process of working with them in partnership for developing new content. We are talking to production partners across India.

How do the returns on short films compare with longer duration films?

As an investment banker, part of the reason I have never produced any feature film is that the risk is much higher. And one of the things that attracted me to short movies is that there are so many great stories, but the economic model is different. It is about the success of the category and not just one short film.

So, we are positioned to bring entertainment that is much more mature and with an economically feasible model. You will notice that anybody who focusses on not only one hit but a string of hits, and guarantees high-quality content for audience has a more secure business model.

What advantages do Indian film-makers get by distributing their films through you?

We have a global distribution business and some of these films from India are going to be huge hits in America and Latin America.

So far, it’s not even something content creators here have considered as they haven’t had anyone in India to take it to the international audience. That’s what we are able to provide to the Indian movie industry — international exposure in over 70 million homes to films coming out of India.

Published on November 29, 2018
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