In conversation with Media Samosa, Ram Madhvani, Founder & Director, Equinox Films, shares his views on the A&M industry, challenges faced in campaign video productions, and tips on the road to recovery in the near future.
With over two decades of experience in the industry, Ram Madhvani has been through the regular ups and downs of the A&M Industry. Nonetheless, tackling and foreseeing the impact of a pandemic is a tricky task. Amidst all things unprecedented, the industry veteran sheds light on the evolution of ad film-making, expressing how he preferred the ‘old abnormal’ to the ‘new normal’.
How has the ad film-making evolved in recent times with the ongoing lockdown?
I like the term evolved here. Every industry has gone through a change in this lockdown. It’s a great challenge for all the brands to figure a way out to be there in the audience’s mind, especially right now when the whole world has come to a halt.
The Client right now does not care about ‘how’ you communicate but rather they are focusing on ‘what’ you are communicating. This has helped communication to go back to basics.
At this point, we are concentrating more on the message of the content rather than the gift wrapping of it.
What are the top challenges being faced in regards to campaign video production during this period?
Being in the communications business, the top challenge is — communication. Right now as everyone is working from their homes, we are solely and wholly dependent on technology and so much is the dependence on good WiFi connections. If that lags, then communication lags. We, at Equinox, have shot some commercials during the lockdown. The major challenge is to have patience with bad WiFi and to understand that things will take longer and to do things with 100 per cent safety.
As an organization, what are the top 3 key focus areas for Equinox at the moment? How are you dealing with the pandemic?
We are currently focusing on just one thing and that is on getting work. We are aware of the economic issue that has hit the industry and we would like to do our work, keeping that in mind. We have been here for many years and would like to be here for many more years to come.
The only way to continue is to understand each other’s problems and sustain each other and try to come out through this economic crisis.
With the lockdown in place, an impact is bound to appear on the business front. What kind of impact are you looking at? How do you plan to deal with it?
The biggest impact is going to be the budgets that the clients give us. There are going to be budget cuts, down the line.
We will have to become more creative with communication so that it can have a higher impact in a relatively low budget.
But we are open to this challenge. Equinox has been making ad films for a very long time, therefore we are adaptive and nimble. In the past, we have understood when a client has had budget restraints and we were still able to create memorable work in the given budgets. So largely, budgets are going to be the major impact, but we are prepared for it.
We have already started getting ‘Post-COVID-19’ budgets and we are ready to embrace them as we all are facing the same problems. If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught us is that we are all in it together.
Feature films VS Ad films: What are the key differences when it comes to the conceptualization to execution process?
I am passionate about advertising and it has made me what I am today. All my major learnings have been from the world of advertising and that has helped me immensely in my storytelling. In advertising, we learn: What to say? How to say it? And most importantly, How do you make people feel?
I apply these lessons to feature films and web series too.
My work ethic, my time management, and my discipline also surface from my life in the world of advertising. Focussing on details, we prepare extensively before we shoot.
What are the top trends in Ad film making that have changed over the last decade?
One of the changes is that the shelf life of an ad has decreased. This has also decreased the amount of time one puts into the thinking and the making of the ad and therefore it’s reduced the longevity of the ad in people’s memory. Generally, the longer time you invest in anything the longer it will stay in people’s memory.
What are your thoughts on social media as a platform for marketing?
Whether you advertise in traditional media or social media, what’s important is the same thing, and that is, communication that needs impact, emotions, creativity, and the right messaging.
What changes can one expect post lockdown in the A&M sector?
Well, we are all hopeful as creative people, so I am hoping that soon we’ll get back to normal. I preferred the ‘old abnormal’ to this ‘new normal’.
What are your business continuity and expansion plans?
One shouldn’t be thinking about business continuity or about expansion plans at the moment. The world seems to be in an ICU in current times. We need to recover first. We should be thankful for the work that comes our way. Work will keep us and our minds occupied.
Work will also allow us to support our in-house as well as our larger teams, who are the most essential part of our work, including the carpenters, painters, light boys, spot boys, and every support staff and crew who make our work possible. Today, we are here because they were there for us. On getting back to work, we can support each other. But we need to follow complete safety protocols in the entire process.