Audiences are opening up to the format of shorts – Ranjan Singh
Ranjan Singh of Phantom Films is a vital part of Chaar Cutting, an upcoming anthology of 4 short films. He has lent his expertise and knowledge to release and promote this interesting venture, and also produced one of the shorts titled Blouse. Ranjan talks about the birth of this idea, his vision for Chaar Cutting and the future of such concepts.
How did the idea of Chaar Cutting come about?
I have been marketing & distributing alternate content for sometime now (Leaving Home/Supermen of Malegaon/Katiyabaaz etc)…but releasing shorts is really tough because of the format and framework of the exhibition. So I’ve always been thinking of trying that out. Sometime last year we were trying to bundle some of them and release it (with Satyanshu & Devanshu Singh of Tamaash). At that time I met the Jamuura team with Abhishek Nayyar and Devanshu. And in that meeting Piyush of Jamuura suggested we do genre based bundling of the films and then try it out. I liked the idea, and we started working on getting similar genre shorts for release. That somehow couldn’t happen, but the idea of making a bundle of four different genre shorts came from there, and thus Chaar Cutting was born.
The 4 films were not specially made for Chaar Cutting and have individually travelled to film festivals as well. Do you feel that their individual recognition gives the entire project an added benefit?
The idea was to pick shorts from different genres and bundle them together to create a full experience for the audience. The fact that these films have travelled the world, and have been appreciated there gives us the confidence that they will be appreciated here too. So yes, it definitely is an advantage.
You’ve produced one of the shorts, Blouse. How did your association with the film happen?
I have known Vijayeta (the Director) for sometime and she brought the story to me. I liked it quite a lot, and thus decided to produce it. And then the usual process of meeting the writer, finding locations, actors etc. began. Some changes were done for the screenplay and that’s how we started.
Were you involved in the creative decisions of Blouse as well?
Yes, they were run past me once. Sanjay Chandwara (Writer) and Vijayeta locked the script, and did the recce for the shoot etc. At times they took my inputs also and have been generous enough to credit me for some additional dialogue too (smiles).
What has been the objective for you all along for Blouse as a film? And what is it that you are doing for all four shorts as a single product?
The objective is to take these shorts to a wider audience and my collaboration with Jamuura is for that purpose. After the theatrical release, we will try and sell Satellite and DVD rights for it, so that it completes a full model for shorts.
Also, given your marketing background, what has been your key input to the promotion of these films?
The main pitch to the audience is that you will have a good time with this film too, as with any other film. This also has drama, some thrilling moments, humour as well as pain. My contribution has been to translate this pitch into the trailer / posters and other communication units. Also, since I have been working here for more than 12 years, the knowledge about exhibition & distribution comes in very handy.
Anthologies of short films are becoming a growing concept. What according to you had led to its popularity?
I will say it’s still early…however, its’ growing. The reason is both the audiences and the filmmakers’. More filmmakers are making better shorts and the audiences are opening up to the format too. Big names like Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar & Zoya Akhtar made shorts for Bombay Talkies, and those kind of efforts also help a lot, as it gets more eyeballs.
When it comes to a collaborative concept like this, what business model do you’ll follow? Who are the financiers?
Like I said, the whole effort to release these films across platforms is to find a successful model for it. Two years back, when most of these films were conceptualized, nobody thought we will reach here. So it’s a journey…And it’s changing rapidly. Now even brands are getting aggressive in this zone. I wish that soon this will become an economically viable model for short film producers.
With this concept, do we see Phantom as a production house foraying into a new arena?
My association with Chaar Cutting is independent of Phantom. But at Phantom we always believe in creating good and entertaining content…so yes, shorts might not be far away.