Film Chamber backs Producers’ Guild, no shootings from 1 August

The film shootings are likely to resume only after a solution is found to the ongoing crisis in Tollywood.

ByBhawana Tanmayi

Published Aug 01, 2022 | 3:37 PMUpdatedAug 01, 2022 | 3:37 PM

film shooting- subramaniyapuram

After days of brainstorming, the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce (TFCC) has supported the voluntary decision taken by the Active Telugu Film Producers’ Guild (ATFPG) to halt all movie shootings from Monday, 1 August.

Following this, all the shootings of the ongoing and new films in Tollywood were suspended.

Addressing the media after a general body meeting convened in Hyderabad on 31 July, producer Dil Raju announced that the shooting bandh would continue until they come up with solutions to address the ongoing crisis in the Telugu film industry, which has been reeling since the the Covid-19 epidemic struck.

He thanked all the producers for unanimously supporting the ATFPG’s decision. He also assured that all pending wages of workers would be cleared after holding talks with the respective unions.

Reiterating that Tollywood is going through a rough phase, especially producers and theatre owners, the new TFCC president K Basi Reddy said that halting the shoots was a collective decision taken to resolve the existing problems in Tollywood.

“We are all on the same page. The Chamber would regroup with all the stakeholders in the industry, including the members of 24 crafts, to find answers to the problems at the earliest, before resuming the shoots,” he said.

Rift among producers

Even as the decision is likely to delay a good number of projects, the rift in Tollywood became evident over the past few days when a group of producers openly expressed their displeasure with the guild’s decision to stop all shootings.

On 26 July, the ATFPG announced that it decided to voluntarily suspend the film shootings so the members could come together and discuss the problems affecting the industry, post-pandemic.

However, the very next day, TFPC president C Kalyan claimed that the council represents a majority of the producers in the industry and they had decided to go ahead with the shoots.

Renowned producers Aswini Dutt and Bandla Ganesh criticised the guild for its “unilateral” decision to suspend shootings and its “foolish” act of blaming star remuneration for the rise in ticket prices.

However, TFCC secretary Mutyala Ramesh said that “fake” collections being quoted by producers/directors were only helping the star heroes, while in reality, the exhibitors and distributors were incurring huge losses due to subpar theatrical performance of films.

Issues in Tollywood

It all started with the indefinite strike launched by over 20,000 workers of 24 crafts on 22 June seeking a 45 percent wage hike and better working conditions, among other demands.

In no time, the core issues plaguing the Telugu film industry came to the fore:

  • A steep rise in production costs
  • A surge in star remuneration and ticket prices
  • Poor theatre revenues
  • Losses being incurred by exhibitors and distributors
  • Over-The-Top (OTT) releases
  • Virtual Print Fee charges
  • Problems in various unions including artists and technicians

Revenue model for theatres

Meanwhile, the producers are learnt to have put forth the following proposals to streamline the theatre revenues:

  • Release of small-budget films on a percentage basis (producer and distributor to take share in profits/revenue on the agreed model)
  • Rationalisation of ticket rates for small- and medium-budget movies
  • Make no producer pay the VPF charges to digital platforms
  • Streamlining the film releases and the release dates
  • A 6 or 10-week gap between theatrical release and OTT premiere
  • Amending the daily wages of workers.