Tuesday, April 6, 2010

CASO Visits India

CASO, with the vital financial support from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, sent a small delegation to attend India’s premier entertainment industry business conference (FICCI-Frames) in mid-March. The delegation comprised of Andrew Harvey (Guru Animation), David Steinberg (Starz Animation) and me (Side Effects Software). Our mandate was to recommend whether or not a larger delegation from CASO should be attending next year’s conference, on the basis of there being sufficient business opportunities in India for CASO member companies beyond the less-appealing outsourcing of Canadian work to Indian companies.

The week-long trip was comprised of two parts: the 3-day convention in Mumbai followed by a trip to Pune, a prospering city of 6.5M people, which is placing significant focus on animation/vfx/gaming.

This was the eleventh anniversary of the Frames conference. The program featured many familiar topics found in other geographies such as film piracy, co-production opportunities, developing profitable IP content. With the help of Ajay Ramasubramaniam and Sachin Balpande, both trade advisors working within Mumbai’s Canadian Consulate, we were able to meet with a variety of studios during the conference. While this wasn’t as insightful as actually visiting the studios themselves, it did allow us to get a broader sense of the players because of the all-under-one-roof convenience of the meetings. Unexpectedly, we garnered a lot of value from our impromptu conversations with foreign delegates who were experienced with doing business in India’s animation industry. Ajay also organized an interview with Animation Express - the most popular on-line news source dedicated to our industry and a visit to Crest Studios – one of the larger studios in India, soon to release the country’s first stereoscopic feature animation Alpha and Omega for Lionsgate.

In Pune, we visited four studios and had a constructive meeting with members of their animation/vfx/gaming committee in their chamber of commerce offices. Again part of the greatest value was had through our informal discussions where we had time to delve deeper into the workings of their industry, their own aspirations and ideas, and what they saw as opportunities in working with Canadian companies.

Sachin is currently organizing a trade mission of Indian companies to visit Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto in late May anchored by Vancouver’s Digi Week. We know a number of the facilities participating in this delegation who will want to do business with Canadian companies, in a flavour other than outsourcing.

We submitted our report to Michael and hope to have the opportunity to share our impressions and findings with those CASO members that are interested in India beyond outsourcing.

Richard Hamel

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