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OP-ED: No country for Bangladeshi films

  • Published at 12:16 am October 6th, 2021
ananda cinema hall
Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

What prevents the movie industry in Bangladesh from achieving success?

In Bangladesh, film directors and artists believe that government policies and public sensitivity hinder the production of true story-based films. 

When Bangladesh OTT platforms first appeared, directors were confronted with a slew of issues. 

Anonno Mamun, a well-known film director, was imprisoned for portraying the police harshly when questioning a rape victim. As a result, making a good film is difficult; however, few directors have gone beyond the constraints of government policies and audience sensibility. 

When films like Oggatonama and Komola Rocket were released in theatres, they failed to captivate audiences. However, once it was made available on YouTube, it received widespread acclaim. 

Amid challenges, why do good movies not get the expected responses from audiences? Because directors don’t use the right promotional tools to promote their films. 

Let's talk about one of the successful movies recently, Debi (a movie based on Humayun Ahmed's novel). Jaya Ahsan and Chanchal Chowdhury appeared as news presenters on a prominent TV channel, and the news went viral on social media timelines, and it has since become prominent news on every news media including online news portals in Bangladesh. 

By that particular strategy, we can easily understand the impact of public relations (PR) strategies that attract a large number of people to theaters. We understand how the Indian film industry and celebrities use PR to promote their films. In comparison to India, movie producers in Bangladesh do not use PR strategies to stay on top of the news.

When producing or directing a film, producers or directors do not allocate a budget for promotion; if they do, they invest in marketing strategies, and PR remains a less important tool for encouraging film in Bangladesh. However, in recent years, few directors have taken advantage of PR opportunities to promote their films. 

As we have seen, a few films received a lot of attention prior to their release, such as Aynabaji, Debi, and Gondi. PR and marketing do their job concurrently; when an event is arranged, PR strategies work to maximize the reach and coverage using various platforms. 

Apart from marketing, a film's PR begins the moment it is unveiled. Suppose a film has been announced and is about to go into production. In that case, the responsibility of a PR firm is to obtain exclusive news from the set and to remain in the news until the films are released and sometimes even after the post-release of the film. As a result, a PR job is far lengthier and more complicated than a marketing job.   

As a director, you've completed your film. How do you entice people to see your movie? And how do you get the attention of your distributors' interest? PR will give you the answer. They contribute to the build-up of anticipation and excitement that drives audiences to nearby theatres. Even the best cast and award-winning directors can't always pique the audience's interest. You'll need a strategy to develop an interest in your film and use the suitable medium for it, which PR can help you with. 

The most significant benefit of public relations is its media connections. They know how to take the film's elements and turn them into newsworthy, or, in today's parlance, trend-worthy material. They ensure that the movie receives maximum media exposure, resulting in increased attendance at theaters.

In addition, other benefits of public relations, such as cost-effectiveness, image-building abilities, and crisis-management skills, play a significant role in the film industry. With the high expense of advertising and marketing initiatives, more filmmakers are including public relations campaigns into their promotional strategy. 

Rich content is the most effective strategy to engage with your audience. To generate interest, the PR agency uses various platforms to spread the film's fundamental message. From arranging a press conference to introduce the new actors to publishing a teaser or trailer and organizing a photo-op, the more you talk about your movie, the more people are interested in seeing it. 

Publicists also use various outlets to promote films, including appearances on TV shows and social events. Social media has always played a critical role in propagating a message through its viral effect and word-of-mouth referrals. The producers choose to share exciting footage on social media, where the message can reach a broader audience more quickly.

With the industry rapidly expanding, filmmakers should recognize the importance of public relations and develop unique PR strategies to increase earnings. Following the pandemic, it is now absolutely essential for directors and producers to focus on how PR strategies can enable them to achieve their objectives. 

It is not only beneficial, but also for the interests of the entire entertainment industry, particularly those whose subsistence is entirely reliant on the revenue earned when movies are produced and scheduled to be released.   If this industry continues to decline, we will lose our cultural significance in the early days of the global arena.           

Yemad Fayed Ahmed is public relations professional

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