On the scene with The Plot Pictures.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
The Plot Pictures, the first independent film studio in the GCC and MENAT (Middle East North Africa Turkiye) region and a studio specialising in developing, producing, and distributing scripted and non-scripted long-form content, including independent films, TV series, Web series and feature films, has announced its official launch. Founded by Pratixa Kanojia and Manasvi Gosalia, it aims to provide a platform for aspiring filmmakers, writers and storytellers, to bring local stories to global audiences.The platform strives to create stories that represent the region through its language and settings by developing, financing, producing, and distributing its content to OTT platforms, studio networks, streaming services and TV networks worldwide.
Screenwriters, filmmakers and storytellers are invited to pitch their ideas to The Plot Pictures’ development team. The selected projects will be evaluated and assessed by a development team and a group of collaborators to prepare the story for production and execution. Currently, The Plot Pictures has four new projects in development from KSA, Taiwan, India, and the UAE. Pratixa Kanojia, Co-Founder, The Plot Pictures, lets Gulf Today into the plot through her answers.
How will you assess the UAE film scene vis-a-vis, say, Bollywood?
What are its strengths and weaknesses?The greatest strength of the UAE is our strategic geographic location. We benefit from drawing the best talent to this region from all over the world, which provides us access to talented crew, actors, production facilities, etc, that are second to none. The regulatory environment is such that it allows for work to flow without interruption, along with a very transparent tech-driven process. Whereas in other countries, you might have stoppages due to unions or civil action or the weather, for example, that disrupts the workflow and slows down an already long process from script to release.
How important is it to have a platform that supports creatives from the UAE and the region?
Cinema, in my opinion, has always been the strongest form of art. It is extremely important for talent to be seen, heard and felt, irrespective of the country or region. Having worked in the UAE and the region over the past two decades, we understand that there is a lot of talent brewing some very important narratives, and we believe that “who better to say our stories than we ourselves”?
Are there enough skilled personnel — crew to cast — available in the Emirates for your projects?
There is amazing talent available locally. The industry has really taken off in the past decade and moulded talent that is relevant to international filmmaking.
How will you deal with censorship, if any?
When our projects are developed, we of course ensure that all local regulations are followed and adhered to. We have an easy and transparent relationship with the local regulatory authorities, which allows for scripts to be vetted at every stage of the development process.
Don’t you think people will watch only what is culturally comfortable? Or, according to you, is there a common MENAT film language?
I believe that audiences today are extremely evolved in their taste. Stories such as ‘Parasite’ or ‘Burning’ coming from South Korea resonate equally with audiences from Turkiye, as they do in the local market. Similarly, a film such as ‘RRR’ is loved by audiences in central Europe and the Americas. Irrespective of language, there is always a universal emotion that binds the audience of a story, and is experienced by all.
Suppose a script is submitted in Arabic. How will you handle the language, deal with its finer points and understand its unspoken nuances?
We are putting together a multi-lingual development team that speaks the numerous dialects of the region, from Khaleeji to Levantine Arabic.To add to that, we are staunch believers in the authenticity of voice, and we ensure every hyperlocal script is honed by a talent true to the language of the region. Having said that, I’m born and raised in the UAE; so understanding regional emotions, traditions, culture and myths, flow very naturally.
Who will you collaborate with for realising your content once finalised? How will you source actors, make-up artists, and equipment?
The projects that we develop, finance and produce benefit from our strategic partnerships with local and international distributors, sales agents, and aggregators. From streamers who own AVOD, PVOD, SVOD channels to TV networks, Free TV, to theatrical releases, we ensure that our projects receive the right exposure for the relevant platform. The cultural boost by the regional authorities in theatre, music, art festivals is a great place for us to find upcoming and leading talents along with the various talent agencies.
Can you tell us something about your alliance with Dejavu Network?
Dejavu Network has been leading the way in producing world-class TV commercials and social media campaigns for the most prolific brands in the region for over a decade. Their vision to enter mainstream cinema as their next phase, aligned with my dream of bringing out hyperlocal stories — which led to the inception of The Plot Pictures.
What makes you confident that The Plot Pictures will be a successful venture?
I think it’s been a long since storytellers from the region have been working from the sidelines, hoping to have their stories told, but have found a lack of platforms. We hope to be that platform to groom, grow and take these stories to the world.
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