Monthly Archives: April 2011

From Pixel to Pixelloid

Our day in London started with ‘Power to the Pixel’ a digital distribution and film innovation forum where presenters like Michel Reilhac, Exceutive Director of ARTE France Cinema talked about ‘Gamification of life’. Where he explained different behavioral changes with games from disorder to order and how people get attracted more towards games as players can be anyone in their fantasy games and do anything they want, that is something not possible in real life.

Mike Monello, co-creator of highly successful cross-media film project ‘The Blair Witch Project’ shared ideas on how to design and develop a cross-media project and cleverly market it. Few points: Design for communal experiences where many people can participate. He mentioned how to create sensational news and get extra publicity by quoting ‘Stolen Audi in a car expo’ incident which created a lot of hype. He also mentioned, one should build a larger world than the characters and have tangibility.

Among all the presentations, WireWAX was one of the most exciting new technologies that were showcased. WireWAX is a clickable interactive video service where you can tag people and products. It opens up huge doors for advertisers, sellers and for interactive information.

The next day, the first meeting was with Protagonist films at British Council, London. They do lot of distribution and rights management for films. They produced world’s first 3D dance movie ‘Streetdance’.

Second meeting was with Film London. It’s the capital’s film and media agency. They explained how they promote London for filming and the services they offer. Film London plays a major role in helping film productions and makers to find suitable locations, post-production facilities and to avail government tax credits. One of their recent projects was ‘Inception’.

Rebecca O’Brien, Co-founder of Sixteen Films was our 3rd meeting. She’s a highly regarded producer who works with director Ken Loach. They have a long history of film making. They have just 2 rooms for the office and manage all their projects. Another surprising thing I got to know is they still use traditional ‘Steinbeck’ for their film editing. We went to Rushes along with Rebecca where we met Joe Bateman, he is the festival director at Rushes Soho Shorts Festival. He explained how Rushes started their short films festival, how they organize and screen the shorts. It’s a 10 days festival where they attract more than 1000 entries from all over the world.

On the third day, our first meeting with Big Talk productions. They produced hits such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, most recently, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Matthew Justice and Rachael Prior gave us a lot of insight of growing the company from just a few people to more than twenty. At the time of expansion, they needed someone very experienced and networked and they recruited Rachael Prior who was then working with ‘Working Title’.

City Screen Picturehouse is a leading independent cinema operators in UK. Their venues screen a lot of mainstream, independent art house and foreign language films.

We met Tina McFarling, Head of Industry Relations of UK Film Council and British Council office. UKFC is a government funded agency for film in the UK ensuring economic, cultural and educational aspects of film are effectively represented. They fund around 100k for British Productions and have a program called First Light for young film makers. Recently, UK government merged it with BFI London and we’ll have to see what kind of changes they come up with.

Our last meeting for the day with Eddie Berg, Artistic Director with BFI. He worked with British Council before moving to BFI and he understands about YCE and other programs British Council takes up. British Film Institute (BFI) promotes understanding and appreciation of film and television heritage and culture. BFI London is one of the most popular film festivals in the world.

Day 4 was our Judging day at British Council followed by a day off. On Sunday we travelled to Bristol.

Monday morning started with meeting with Mehjabeen Price, Director of Finance and Operations at South West Screen. SWS funded by UKFC, Skillset & South West of England Regional Development agency. There are about 1800 companies in wildlife media and 90,000 in creative media industries. Bristol has tech companies like HP and airplane industries. 25% of world’s nature programs created in Bristol. They have well known media companies like BBC, Aardman Animation, Endemol, Bournemouth. South West Screen fills the gap carries industry need to policy makers.

Second meeting at Aardman Animation. A very pleasant and joyful place to work and visit. They have a huge studio and a nice entrance with some of the characters created for their movies and TV programs. Our young entrepreneurs turned kids and ran around the whole place to take pictures. We met Miles Bullough, Head of Broadcast who gave us a presentation about Aardman. Just 2 people started the company and they won several Oscars as well. We had a pleasure meeting Mr.David Sproxton for a few minutes.

Our third meeting was with The Watershed. It’s Britain’s first dedicated ‘Media Center’ and delivers a year round diverse, cultural programme of films, festivals and is a leading exponent and commissioner of digital and online creativity through its website dShed.net where you can view and engage with debate, projects, pod casts and artists commissions and short films and through its Pervasive Media Studio.

Then we travelled to Cardiff where we began by meeting Dragon DI, which is located in Sony Technology Centre outside Cardiff. It’s more like a boutique studio running Quantel systems for their digital intermediate services. They primarily work on London, Scotland and some of the European budget productions, where London handles high-end post.

Our next meeting was with Boomerang. They have a group of companies whose activities include program production, post-production services television facilities and talent management. They have both English and Welsh language productions specifically made for Wales. They have co-productions with some of the French and Canadian companies due their welsh language speaking population in those countries as well.

British Council, Cardiff.
We had a networking lunch at British Council, Cardiff. There were a few presentations from Owain Gillard, Film Office, Wales Screen Commission explaining how they are trying to promote film and related activities in Wales. Films like Robinhood shot in Wales beaches and forests.

Fresh Launch event at Atrium. They offer courses in animation, design, broadcast, music, fashion, communication and drama. They have huge space dedicated for their educational facilities.

Day 9: Back to London and a meeting at Dodwoof, a leading UK film distributor specializing in social issue films, documentaries, independent films and world cinema. They are known for their ethical documentaries, such as Black Gold, Burma VJ, Food Inc among others.

Q&A with Duncan Kenworthy, a highly respected producer whose credits include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually. He shared his experience from his days when he was working for someone then eventually took the risk of being a producer and the hardships then the joy of it.

Then there was a panel discussion about cross platform trends from the UK and emerging international markets. 19 years old Jamal Edwards, SBTV gave an interesting presentation about his YouTube channel with more than 13,000,00 upload views and Top 100 most viewed & subscribed directors of all time. http://www.sbtv.co.uk/

Another presentation from DamianoVukotic, RSA Films turned the attention of all the audiences when he showed Philips Cinema Parallel Lines – The Gift. http://www.rsafilms.com/company/rsa-uk/director/carl-erik-rinsch/philips-cinema-parallel-lines-the-gift-1265

Day 10: End of IYSE Tour.

It was a great opportunity for all of us to get together learn about each other, then visiting and meeting different companies and people. It was once in a life time experience. I’m sure at least some of our IYSE finalists would work on something together at some point. It was such a great group and total pleasure being a part of the whole program!

Thank you British Council and Aanchal, Claire & Rwituja!

Post by – © Yugandhar Tamareddy

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Tomb Raider, Hitman and TouchMagix

Recently I was fortunate to be a part of the YCE awards arranged by British Council and was also lucky to be the winner of “International Young Creative Interactive Entrepreneur 2010” award in London. I feel along with the award, it was the journey that was quite exciting and here is a summary of my experience and thoughts of the tour.
On winning the national YCE awards, 12 winners from different countries like Poland, Columbia, China, India, Mexico and many more assembled in London to compete for the International YCE award and go on a 10 day creative industry road-trip in UK. This full trip was sponsored by British Council to promote cross border collaborations in creative economy.

On arriving in London on 13th, our first meeting was with Ian Livingston, who is regarded as founding fathers of interactive entertainment in UK. His company is well known for creation of game characters like “Tomb Raider” and “Hitman”. The key learning was how he took his hobby of traditional games to modern computer video games to create a successful venture. We also met the UKIE, the trade body for UK’s interactive entertainment industry on the same day.

After our presentation day, we had a some free time to explore London and places around. I also found some time to visit our customers in Cambridge and a few more companies who were intending to do business with TouchMagix in London. On 17th, some of us took an early train to Edinburgh so that we could explore the beautiful city. I met with Shadab, a friend of mine who was studying at University of Edinburgh. He showed me around the university and we were discussing the similarities and dissimilarities between the UK and Indian education systems. On 18th morning we headed out on a road trip to Albertay University in Dundee. I was quite amazed to see a college who was training talent for the interactive and gaming industry. This kind of education is unheard of in India. We visited their game development studios and got an overview of the type of courses that were being offered there. We met with some interesting companies in the area like Digital Goldfish, a start-up who develops iPhone games and Tag games which was a big company developing mobile and online games. After quite a busy day, we headed back to Edinburgh to catch a train to Middlesbrough.

On 19th morning, we visited the Teeside University, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Dr.Simon, the dean of School of Computing was kind enough to give us a tour of the university and the various activities that were happening out there. We met with some students who were part of an entrepreneurial fellowship program conducted by the university. This program was conducted to encourage creation of start-ups in interactive media space. We then visited a cluster called Digital City, which was a hub for many start-ups in interactive media. We met with founder of Assyria games, Twisted and Iguana who were based in the cluster.

After returning to London on 20th, we visited several digital agencies like RGA, Unit9, PlayGen, IShift, Trampoline Systems, Moving Brands to name a few. It was very interesting to way these companies were working to serve different niche needs of the growing interactive creative economy. There were wide range of target customers these companies were serving. PlayGen was a company who was specialized in making serious games especially for the government sector where as Moving Brands was a company who were helping brands connect with people through interactive media and fun. On 22nd we visited Wired UK the popular magazine which showcases latest innovations. We also met with Paul Croft from Mediatonic who design online games and work with large publishers to tailor and distribute their IP. The day ended with a networking event of people from digital media industry. Made some new friends there and also got a change to present our companies in brief.

Just to summarize, the whole trip was filled with great learnings and following were some key ones –

  • Interactive industry is evolving as a modern story telling mechanism.
  • Forming small and efficient teams is the way to start a business in game development.
  • Creating your own IP or riding on someone else’s IP is an important part of being in creative business.
  • Talent hunt problem is common everywhere. Universities like Albertay and Teeside are helping reduce those by imparting right training.
  • Interactive industry clusters are a neat way to create good companies who contribute towards creative economy.
  • UK market is a growing market for creative companies to work with.
Anup
Post by – © Anup Tapadia
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When Library became College

It was John Keats’s birthday when I became a member of British Council Library, Kolkata, in 1996. I had tried to become a member of the British Council Library earlier but the library officials stated that I had to be at least a graduate student to become a member. It was a haloed turf for me because the library had a great collection of English Literature books, which were of great interest to me. Located in Shakespeare Sarani (formerly Theatre Road), the library had an old world charm to it if a telescopic view into almost fifteen years past is taken from now. The wooden interiors, the manual catalogues, the lending of audio cassettes, the blue-covered notes on literature, all had become an integral part of my life.

As years passed by the interiors became plush, the audio cassettes gave way to CDs, computers took over cataloguing and issuing, the notes on literature got neglected, the cafe became in-house, a kids’ section was added, film DVDs were compiled, subscription of academic journals diminished, internet and photocopying facilities were introduced, and the library itself  shifted from its Shakespeare Sarani address to Larsen and Toubro Chambers in Camac Street. But my attachment remained undeterred.

It is so because when I didn’t have a college to go to, the British Council library became my college. When I didn’t have a university to go to, the British Council library became my university. When I didn’t have a professor to consult with, the British Council library became my professor. When I didn’t have a peer to lift my mood, the British Council library became my peer. I treasure the Pictorial Retrospective of V. S. Naipaul that I won at the V. S. Naipaul quiz organized by the British Council library. The six Best of Bookers shortlisted books, which I won in another British Council organized quiz, adorn my bookshelf. The library still provides me with books for sustenance and a space to cherish. It has been a constant in my life and will always remain so. I believe there are many people who have had intimate associations with this or other libraries in their lives.

Post by – © Amit Shankar Saha

Amit Shankar Saha

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