It’s a beautiful sunset I’m watching now. Having just watched a film in OTT, glittery silhouettes make my heart shimmer with hopes. The same sun will rise in another twelve hours approximately. What does the sun do all this time and what does this rest period of the sun indicate? It is indicative of hope and resilience. In these past one and half years where I handle “people with stories” my perception about creativity. The other side of the table has many stories under the creator’s quilt.
Now that there are more OTTs almost all the creators long to make a film or a web series, the content landscape in India has witnessed a significant revolution. But is it an easy process? I cannot say a definite YES to it. While India invests a substantial amount in creating content for over-the-top (OTT) services, production houses and the people involved in the creative process face a multitude of challenges. The main issue mirrors an unclear content roadmap which if only rectified can establish a vibrant and sustainable content ecosystem.
Many OTTs still strive hard to carve a face of their own identity, which is unique. That echoes in their confusions to demarcate clear content roadmap. They struggle to determine the genres and spaces they want to operate in, leading to ambiguous briefs provided to production houses. If crime is the strike of one OTT, a simple slice of life content in another which turns out to be a hit- makes them recarve their identities. This uncertainty hampers the efficiency and effectiveness of content creation. If a particular genre gets popular all other platforms fly to hold it – not giving a thought about the audience who would become tiresome seeing the same content everywhere.
The OTT platforms can establish a well-defined operating blueprint that aligns with their content goals. By defining their content strategy and clearly communicating it to production houses, platforms can ensure consistency and clarity, enabling a more streamlined content creation process which the clients too will be well clear about so that time is not “killed“ in the process of listening to the script – making the client wait and negate finally after six months.
Why is this important? This lack of timely and specific feedback leaves creators uncertain about the reasons for rejection and impedes their ability to improve their content. Platforms should strive to provide detailed feedback to production houses, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the pitches with absolutely no yardsticks judging the creative efficiency of the creator. This feedback not only helps creators refine their content but also fosters a more efficient pitching process, ultimately enhancing the quality of the content ecosystem
What if it is approved? The lengthy approval process for content projects poses a significant challenge for many. Greenlighting a project, such as a web series or an episode screenplay, can take an extensive amount of time, often exceeding a year. This prolonged timeline results in creative fatigue and affects the timeliness of topical storylines. Also, the financial backdrop of the creators is at stake. Art even if doesn’t feast a creator, shouldn’t make him or the people around starve. Delays in payments, often disguised as quality control checks, further exacerbate this issue. I know certain writers, directors literally struggling so much during this delayed processing time. Proper time lines, prioritizing and streamlining the delaying approval process is a must by streaming platforms.
Many platforms suffer from overly centralized decision-making processes, limiting the involvement and knowledge of local teams. By involving local teams in decision-making processes, platforms can gain a deeper understanding of regional preferences and cultural nuances, resulting in more culturally relevant and engaging content.
It’s a bane that the power centers in OTT platforms take refuge in big names – big actors – big directors- big production studios- neglecting the creators’ preferences or choices- perfectly tailor made for the characters they have created. Giving chances for new talents seems to be more of a lip service and a risk not worth taking for the platforms. And even if it doesn’t work out well, they involve in blame games.
Power is a glass ball which when breaks hurts both sides. What I constantly hear is unbelievable reports of excessive interference in casting decisions, compromising the integrity of the storytelling process. Directors and writers have expressed concerns about the lack of creative autonomy in selecting the most suitable actors for their projects. How nice it would be if there is trust on the expertise of the creative teams and empower them to make casting decisions that align with their vision for the content- and respecting the creative autonomy
Exploring collaborations with international markets to facilitate co-productions and cross-cultural exchanges is one facet still lying undernourished. It will offer opportunities for talent exchange and creative synergies, leading to the creation of compelling and globally resonant content.
Personally, if I was asked about the content ecosystem for creativity in India my answer would be it is poised for growth and innovation, driven by the emergence of numerous platforms. As platforms and production houses work in tandem to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities, the Indian content landscape will continue to evolve, delighting audiences and inspiring creative excellence
Just now sprung out. Baptized as “OTT”. Long time to grow. Severing off weeds and having a dialogue on the alter ego and its consciousness may enhance a networking society where we together grow – together harvest. Of course, it has grown dark as I switch off my system but there will be sunrise in the next few hours.
(Author is COO – Regional Content at IN10 Media Network. Views expressed are personal.)