The big question I’m asked a lot is – why casting? What’s so special about the casting process that you’ve decided to start a company for it?
When I first moved to Mumbai a year ago, my expectations were of a larger-than-life, creatively supercharged city where the filmmaking ecosystem would be supportive, vibrant and upwardly mobile. These expectations come from a mainstream narrative of Mumbai that is glamorous and romantic, and that is driven more by PR and marketing concerns than by reality.
The shocking thing is – we do have immense talent, and immense desire. At every stage of my interaction with filmmakers in Mumbai, I’ve been amazed by their drive and commitment to their craft.
Somehow though, all that talent and ambition all stuck in a decades old, stodgy system of content-delivery. We are still focussed on making films for the big screen. We are still dependent on a distribution network that is opaque and inaccessible to all but the top 10 or 20 executives at big production houses. And frankly, without references, there is no way for someone new to make it in this industry.
Which is why people laugh politely when you call filmmaking an “industry”. The government may have granted filmmaking the “industry” status, but we are very far from earning that tag on the ground.
But times are changing. The internet is flattening hierarchies. The audience prefers an actor who delivers a great performance over an actor who…twinkles. Millions of hits on web-series without a single mainstream recognizable face are testimony to this trend.
We are at the precipice of detonation. Vast investments are being pumped into loss-making content creation, in the hopes that revenues will come with eyeballs. The air reeks of adventurous risk-taking. Everyone wants a webseries of their own. Big houses are moving online. TV shows are being released online. Netflix just came to India. These are BIG events. These are events that will shape this industry in the decade to come.
And the people who make films have got to keep up.
There is no time to waste. No energy to waste. We’ve got to innovate, find efficiencies where there have been sweat sinks. Create new tools to enable a flattening of content creation and distribution. Find new ways to help indie creators monetize. People are hungry for new, good content. Increase our output.
If we keep fighting against our own stale ways of working, we will miss this wave. We will probably end up in the same multipolar studio system that Hollywood finds itself in, and start making Marvel-ized versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana again and again and again for the mindless consumption of bored audiences around the world. The numbers will rise, the craft will not.
Castiko is a small step in this direction.
The casting process is crucial to any creative project – it’s been said that finding the right actors is 80% of the job. There are also grievous inefficiencies in this space that Castiko aims to alleviate… create data-centric tools that will smoothen the logistical nightmare that is casting today. We want to help our incredibly talented casting directors focus on what’s most important – casting.
There’s so much more to do, people. Distribution. India-focussed production tools. Budgeting. Financing. Collaboration and discovery. There is SO MUCH.
Let’s get down to the business of making art.