COVID has certainly brought something good and some opportunities to a lot of people. Just like to Praveen Nagda, Founder and CEO of Peregrine PR and Festival Director of KidzCinema, and to the filmmakers who took part in the first two editions of the film festival. From an idea of a project of passion that could also bring some business opportunities, Praveen is one of the people who initiated the KidzCinema 2020 with one-third of the countries worldwide taking part during the first two editions.
In this episode, Praveen shares the idea and inspiration behind the KidzCinema, their brilliant ways of involving children in the film festival, some ways to raise funds for a large-scale industry but charging very minimal, or even free, to the participants, and how it got noticed.
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Welcome to this episode of The Unnoticed Entrepreneur. Today I'm delighted to introduce Praveen Nagda, who is the Festival Director for KidzCinema 2021, joining me from Mumbai. Praveen, welcome.Praveen Nagda:
Hi, Jim. How are you?Jim James:
I'm well. And look, it's lovely to have a conversation with you. You and I know each other because of your Peregrine PR agency work in India. But you're an entrepreneur, and I'm going to ask you how you're helping other entrepreneurs get noticed. And I think specifically filmmaker entrepreneurs.Praveen Nagda:
Sure. So, it's an interesting topic that you'd like to hear, and you may like to know a little bit what we've been doing here in this case. COVID presented one good opportunity to us in 2020. Whole world was locked down, kids were sitting at home, families were living in the closed spaces, couldn't get out, and, people who are, you know, switching on to online media consumption like never before. At the same time, kids were also suffering a lot emotionally because they have always been used to playgrounds, friends, moving out of home. And I have my own kid, ten year old, nine year old. He was eight years old two years back. So I could see him so restricted, and so feeling, so much feeling of claustrophobia in home because he would always be out with his friends, five to seven hours a day he would be out. And this is the same thing which is happening around the world with many of my friends, whether it's America or India or Europe, all of us have that experience. Also, that was one angle. And second angle was, COVID also provided a lot of challenges to us in our traditional businesses that we were doing. So one also was constantly exploring, some new opportunities, some new avenues. So we thought, why don't we do something which is an act of passion also, which becomes a long-term mission for me personally, at the same time. Also brings in some kind of additional business opportunities that we can look at. So we planned to create online film festival for children. Film festivals are there. Kids film festivals, not too many of them. India has a few of them, Europe has a lot of them, but again, each country will have one or two of them. Kids need a very wholesome, healthy entertainment where they can learn a lot of things, get value education, life lessons. All those things are very important. And, typically, in the world there's not so many children's films are made as compared to the films for adults. We have Hollywood and Bollywood everywhere. But for children, you don't have so many films. Of course, European market is pretty much evolved. There are a lot of, you know, running film festival for children for 30 and 40 years. And it still evolves, but India still is evolving. We had few good film festivals for children here, but not many of them. Now online was a opportunity that one could end cash. And therefore we decided to create the property which was around kids. Now, film festivals gives a lot of opportunities to filmmakers, to exhibit releasing a film theatrically it's on big, big, big expense. Many people don't even have those stabilities, reaching out to debtors and exhibiting is a humongous task. So festivals give this opportunity to a lot of filmmakers where they can showcase their work at, probably, free of cost or very minimal costs in terms of the fee or something. In case of kids films, we don't charge any entry fee from the filmmakers. We let them submit their films. Of course, we take some films which are the recent ones, the last one year's time made films. So first edition, we also approached at that time UNESCO in the office and they were very kind. So they helped us connecting with people, reaching out to many constituents. We also connected with many embassies in India and extended our outreach. It was interesting to note that the first ever film festival, first edition of KidzCinema, received about 1100 films. And they came from 87 countries, which is pretty good. One third of the whole participated. And next year, the second edition that we celebrated this year had about 1500 plus films from 90 plus countries. So which which means what, it's so overwhelming that, you know, you see one third of the world is actually coming together and joining towards this cause. And these films came from filmmakers living in remote area. Remote like small countries from Africa, very small islands from different places, a number of films from Europe, a lot of films from Iran. There are countries which have sanctions. There are countries which have, you know, economic conditions don't allow this kind of culture, which is there to grow. And still we got a huge participation. We, in the secondary nation, we partnered with the organisations called, which is again, one of the world's largest organisation of people, filmmakers, who are making content for children. So it has got members from 40 to 45 countries. Hundreds of people from established filmmakers who have made films, documentaries, dramas for the children, animation for children. We have the live action films, we have animation films and we also had one very unique category where we took films made by children. So in the age group of age 6 to 13. There were two categories, 6 to 13 was one category, 14 to 21 other category. And we got hundreds of people from all over the world, and amazing amount of creativity you can see there. What kind of beautiful animation films, small stories, large stories, very interesting creative work from children. Films is a universal medium. It can bind people. You know, it doesn't even require a audio. You can, you can see kids watching films without audio and they'll understand what's happening there. It's a really powerful tool of communication. And we experienced and we found that, and it was pretty overwhelming experience for us to really connect the whole world together. And last year with the first edition, a lot of learning for us. It was at the beginning of a very task with that we, we also did not believe how it will unfold. Because when we started the festival we didn't really know how many entries we'll get, how many participations we will get. And, we started and finished within about 52 days, the first edition. Every day we used to get 50 of entries from different countries, it was so overwhelming that, you know, we had to constantly add more people at that time to our process of curation. Because we have to make sure that we see each film. So there was a 10 full member curation team to see each film and evaluate it on certain parameters and get it for the next process of the selection committee, which again would be a part of filmmakers. Good well-known experienced filmmakers that we formed the committee. They will go through it. And from there, the next step would be for jury members. Some would be from Bollywood, some senior bureaucrats. So we really have a mix of, of some jury. And they finally awarded the best films across different categories and all that. And this year we upgraded in a couple of parameters in terms of the whole experience of the festival. And the first edition we had to run very fast. So we used YouTube and these platforms to showcase the film for three days of the festival. This year we increased the time of festival. The main festival activities from three days to seven days, and exhibition from three days to 30 days. So if one wants to see all 40, 45 films, which are there in the part of the official selection. You know, one can see very comfortably in the setting of the couch, in the bedroom, or dining room, or whatever they are doing and wherever they will want to. Or in a garden simply using their handset mobile they could do it. So we tied up with a platform called Movie Saints, Movie Saints platform is a US-based platform, that delivers films via online medium on internet. And you can register, login yourself and move to watching the film, just like you would watch them in the theater. I mean, it's just like watching it on the computer. And you can choose the films, there are synopsis of the films, there are trailers of films available. So you actually can have a bit of experience and then you can watch that whole film. And of course there, there is a bit of a revenue generation from there also. So whether it's a project of passion, but it still requires a certain amount of investment. And both in terms of time and also money, because there are things which you have to do. Exhibition itself is with an expense. How do you show the films? How do you get the people to watch the films? So people from across the world could actually watch those films. And therefore it totally became an international kind of event. What we also did is, usually, in festivals, on one hand, you support the filmmakers. You give them a platform to express their creativity, et cetera, et cetera. There are other things also there for kids because it is eventually a kids' event. So in the kids' event we do a lot of workshops for them for filmmaking, we do workshops on script writing, we do workshops on, cinematography, et cetera. So one of the interesting workshops we have conducted by one gentleman called Ritesh Taksande. And he had created a specific course, mobile filmmaking. How you can use your mobile phone to make films. And youngsters would just love it because, you know, nowadays the time of while everybody has mobile, there are some nice apps which are there. And interestingly, these apps allow you to pretty much good work, which is like your professional editing, you know. So there are apps which allow you to edit films, apps which allow you to put overlay and edit that and give special effects, and without any kind of watermark, without any kind of, you know, distraction, and you can really put together a nice story. Besides that, this year there was one more very interesting concept we had. Not typically most often what happens is that adults make films, or the film content for children, and adults only judge them also. Now this time we created a specific child jury of five kids, and we also asked them to review two of the film categories of short films. So of course, we had five candidates. So in live action, we had long and short, short films are less than 30 minutes and long, full 30 to 90 minutes. So we had live action, long-short, animation, long-short. We also had kids film, kids made them. So we got this children jury to judge the short films in animation category and live action. And they all discussed, they evaluated, we had a proper jury meet for them, which we regarded it. And then we arrived at a very scientifically, plus, their thoughts and views subjectively, and we arrived and narrowed down to the blindness. So, so child jury awards, additional awards, then the normal jury awards for those categories. So the normal jury also judged all categories, but for two categories, we had child jury. In child jury, again, we had a very good mix. So there was one celebrated child artist, there was a one classical dancer, there was a one young author, a poet and, one theater person. So we have creatively inclined children to come together, form a jury, and watch the content made by adults for children to consume, and then judged them and give them awards. So it was quite an interesting exercise in terms of involving the children and bringing them together. So that was a bit of a wholesome package that, you know, we could create for children.Jim James:
Praveen, that's an amazing explanation of what sounds like a Herculean effort to curate so much content from around the world. Can you tell us about how you got people to come and watch? Because you've explained the partnerships with UNESCO and the filmmakers society, but what about the audience? How did you get that breadth of audience to make it worthwhile for all those filmmakers to take part?Praveen Nagda:
Right. So primarily the promotions were done through social media. We had a lot of active social media pages on Instagram, Facebook, et cetera, et cetera. And we also involve the filmmakers to, you know, create the buzz within their markets and get people to watch the films and all of those things. And, mainly social media, because in case of online environment that is the best way to reach out people. Of course, if you have physical, then you can do whole lot of other things, you can put billboards and promotional things. So that was the key way to reach out to audience. And the Movie Saints provided a good platform for us to exhibit anywhere in the world. And that's how we would manage.Jim James:
And can you give us an idea of the audience figures? You've talked about sort of 1500 movies, and over sort of seven days. Any, any statistics you can share about how many people logged in?Praveen Nagda:
Numbers, it's difficult for me to share the numbers, we don't discuss usually out, but it runs in hundreds and thousands. So these are good numbers.Jim James:
Yeah. It's good. Well, just get some context, doesn't it? Appreciate the confidentiality, but it justifies both your investment and that of all the filmmakers to take part.Praveen Nagda:
So you did mention, Praveen, about the financial aspect. From an entrepreneurial perspective, what was the business model then? Because if you've got a lot of people doing things for free, can you share how does it generate enough money at least to fund itself, and to be sustainable for the future?Praveen Nagda:
Absolutely. So interestingly, usually these are all large-scale events and they require huge investment. However, having said this, COVID and online environment gave us an opportunity to create something like this at a very minimal cost in terms of expense at our side. And in our first edition we did get a bank to come and join hands to partner with us. They had a product for kids' bank account. I don't want to get into the numbers because again, that's a a more personal discussion with them. This is the kind of opportunities that you have. And then as you go ahead, we can scale up. There are many ways to scale it up. So one of the ways to scale up is to involve a lot of schools, create certain programs for them, and in those programs you can teach them filmmaking on various aspects of filmmaking, you can show us other films, you can have the director of the film coming in talking about his experience, et cetera. So those kinds of things will mean revenue. Though this is not something in the immediate term, I see revenues, good revenues coming in its own time. It's a very longterm mission for me. As I said, I must have talked to you earlier, it's a mission for me, it's a lifetime mission for me. And we need to keep building this activity. As we go ahead, I think the moment we are able to bring it on ground, and then you will see on ground and online both coming together, pretty good audience at that point in time. I love that, Praveen. Yeah. You shared about having your grandchildren and in years to come, saying, you know, 'Grandpa Praveen organised this, which is a lovely vision there. In terms of the 2022, we still got COVID, still offline. Tell us, just briefly, what's the plan for this year. See, we started with COVID. The first year our team was together, and that's in distancing times. And this time they were going through COVID, so our theme was stories of positivity. And they'd recognise the filmmakers who are talking about the stories of positivity. Now, when we come out of this pandemic, we'll create some team which is around this, you know, how you came out of it, and you know, what is your life ahead, et cetera. And of course, we will try to reach out a lot more partners, like banks or other corporate partners, which could probably, you know, want to be a part of the journey. Because everybody, there are brands that want to catch them young. So the brands which can possibly be good partners, and engage them for the more intensive activity. And we will keep it always global. We, as I said, we have we have a truly global participation, both in terms of filmmakers, in terms of jury, judges, there's the entire team, which is involved from all over the world. We'll keep getting ahead the same team to the next auditions. And hopefully, if in couple of years, if we are able head a firm footing within your local market, we might make this festival as a traveling festival. We might do this festival in some other country every year, and those kinds of things are always, you know, considerable. Of course then that's when you require some support from cross-country governments and all those things. But when the time is right, that will also happen. I'm in no hurry. I believe in taking baby steps and then bigger steps and then leave. So that's fine.Jim James:
Well Praveen, maybe your 10 year old son in 10 years will then have the grandchildren to carry this forward. Praveen Nagda, the Festival Director of KidzCinema, how can people get hold of you?Praveen Nagda:
Well, you can reach me on my emails, and my social media, I'm pretty active on my social media. My LinkedIn is available. My websites, I'm just a phone call away. It's all public information.Jim James:
Alright. And I will include Praveen's details in the show notes as always. Praveen Nagda, Festival Director of KidzCinema 2021 and 2022 and 23 and 24 and 25 and into the future. Thank you so much for joining me today on the Unnoticed Entrepreneur Show.Praveen Nagda:
Thank you, Jim. Thank you. It was a pleasure to talk to you. I hope your listeners will be happy to listen to this.Jim James:
I'm sure there'll be as inspired as I have been. Praveen Nagda, joining me from Mumbai, thank you so much. How would we say goodbye in India?Praveen Nagda:
We say goodbye, in Hindi, we say, Phir Milenge.Jim James: