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Reshaping the entertainment industry

by Fouzia Nasir Ahmad 2016-12-18
Last week marked a milestone for the Pakistani entertainment and showbiz industry with FocusPK16, the country`s first national production and entertainment trade conference held in Karachi.

It was organised under the aegis of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCT), led by the FPCCl-Standing Committee on Production and Entertainment committee`s chairperson Atiqa Odho.

Images on Sunday spoke to Atiqa about FocusPK16: Q: What was the outcome of the conference? A: The dialogue has begun, we have made the dent. It`s a humble start which became way bigger than we expected.

I am thrilled but humbled with the fraternity owning what my committee members Seema Jaffer, Farishteh Aslam, Umnia, Faisal Kapadia and I put together. It is a neutral platform, so nobody`s brand is being threatened. People who never get to meet each other focused on thawing out issues and follow-up meetings were outlined. The whole idea was to build bridges and that has been fabulously achieved.

Q: How did the idea come about? A: Having attended many conferences all over the world for different trades, I always felt that in Pakistan we don`t have a neutral ground where we could connect with stakeholders and where young people studying film or script writing or entering this trade could showcase their work and meet people from the trade. I could see this huge disconnect between a lot of different components. Our networking is all about individual connections. I realised that the only way the trade could strengthen and we could find a volume of valuable, talented human resource is by establishing a neutral platform like FocusPK16.

Q: Why were you asked to chair the FPCCI committee for showbiz? A: Being businessmen, they didn`t understand our trade and were oblivious to the kind of money and volume that rotates in the entertainment industry. As I already had the experience of setting up the producers` association and the actors` association which are registered, up and running presently as trade bodies, they wanted me to take the lead l`or them. I thought if`the Federation was giving me an opportunity to connect the business sector with showbiz, why not? Q: How did you work out the format of the conference`? A: FocusPK16 was based on the model of Ficci Frames, a trade conference started by the late Yash Chopra. That has run now for about 12 or 13 years and I have attended quite a few.

Q: How did it all go? A: In the two the days of`Focuspkl6, 150 speakers comprising the top tier of the entertainment industry artists, chairmen, presidents and CEOs of channels, film funds and radios highlighted industry issues, debated options, answered questions about how to move ahead and how to give the young opportunity.

Q: What kind of support did you get from the government?A: It was great timing for us as well as for Mariam Aurangzeb, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting. She is looking for support from the private sector to strengthen the trade and we need the government for policies. She quickly understood what we were looking for and made a commitment. She and her team were engaged in the sessions on both days across the conference halls.

Q: What was the response of the business community? A: They said `You have opened our eyes. We have no idea this kind of money was involved in the business of entertainment.` It was integral for them to understand that a film like Jawani Phir Nahin Ani can make 38 crore rupees indicating how money invested in a film multiplies rapidly.

Between 5-6 crores you can make an average film and if the ceiling is 38 crores, it could be your one-year return from scripts to screen. Which other business will give you this kind of return? Of course, there is a risk in any other business but you have to develop and build it.

Q: What issues are of top priority and what will keep your committee busy till the next Focus conference? A: Right now, we want to put all our collaterals on the website so people can see it, as there is enough content from the conference to run through for six months. We are looking at a trade magazine as an important communication tool besides a national award programme with PTV as the hub. I would also like international partners like Iran, Turkey, China, North America to visit us, build partnerships and invest in projects for the screens. Films are top on the agenda, more so because of the ban on Indian films.

Q: What do you see happening next year? A: Next year I`d like some add-ons. More student involvement in the halls which we miscalculated since the students were busy with examinations when the conference was on. Next year, we could probably schedule it in November so that students can participate.