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A lot of brands are using short format films to tell their brand story: Carter Pilcher

ShortsTV is a 24/7 HD TV channel dedicated to short movies and is available in approximately 70 million households across the US, Latin America, Europe, and India. Since 2006, ShortsTV has produced the annual theatrical release of the Oscar nominated short films, distributing it to movie theatres around the world and digital sell-through platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. The theatrical release of the Oscar Nominated Shorts is now a firm fixture in the US and Canadian theatres and in 2019 grossed over $3.5 million at the US box office.

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In a freewheeling conversation with Adgully, Carter Pilcher, CEO, ShortsTV, speaks about his love for Indian Cinema, the scope of growth of short films in India, advertisers’ response to short content and much more.

Talking about short films in India, Pilcher said, “Since we have been coming to India, one of the things that really jumped out at me was that India has an amazing cinema culture. One of the biggest cinema industries in the world and they don’t have at the same time any much international recognition. India has kind of kept itself to itself. Bollywood is not connected to Hollywood in any way and so filmmakers that are successful here don’t really get any recognition except among the overseas Indian community. They don’t get much recognition outside of India.”

However, that is starting to change, Pilcher noted, adding, “Since I have been in India, I have realised that I have kind of made it a mission to help as much as we can in the world of short films.”

Speaking about his love for Indian Cinema, he said, “I love Indian cinema. Old Indian cinema is amazing. It is starting to have a huge influence on the world. If you notice what’s happening in the West and Europe and America, cinema is now becoming lots of song and dance, and all those kinds of things in Bollywood that we all used to laugh about are now part of our movies. Here, filmmakers are starting to explore new themes, new real ways of looking at life portraying stories that are intimate and maybe even small, not big and on the tops of Swiss Alps and dancing, funny dances, but it is a really important change because filmmakers starting here are starting to really tell stories about regular people’s lives and I think the stories are much more meaningful.”

Adding further, he noted that the films are certainly more powerful and also much more international – so, be it a story about a family or a tragedy or something fabulous that happens between two people – it is something that everyone in America can understand.

“While people may not exactly understand the cultural references in the old Bollywood movies, but love, hate, anger, happiness are emotions everyone understands regardless of which part of the world one belongs to. Those are the things that translate well and that’s what new Indian filmmakers are doing, which is so beautiful. Anurag Kashyap has started this new wave, he really started making shorts and started showing realistically what really happens between two people, and the anger that they feel and the bad things that they do. And that’s changing the way people think about cinema,” he added.

Sharing his views on the brands advertising on short format content, Pilcher noted, “Brands are interested in any content that people like and short content is more about what young people are spending all their time looking at or watching or interacting with. Long form content is becoming less interesting. But short content also, believe it or not, can be much more memorable and I think brands are interested in short content because impressions and thoughts that you take away from a short film are sometimes much more indelible than a long movie that you can’t really remember what happened and the brand that is associated with it.”

He noted that a lot of brands are starting to communicate with stories and they are trying to start using short format films, even tell their brand story or put forward their brand values. “It is kind of interesting; some of them are good, while some are not so good. They are too advertising-centric, but I think we are all communicating, and we are all trying to communicate authentically. Even brands are trying to figure out how you do that and the possibilities of short stories really help you leave something important in people’s minds.”

Talking about Shorts TV’s partnership with Amazon Prime, Pilcher called Amazon a great partner and added that, “We were thrilled to launch Prime channels with them here in India last year. We earlier launched in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and several European countries and in the coming weeks or so, we are going to launch within America. So, it’s a growing and fun partnership.”

He expressed his excitement about it and said that they are seeing real growth here. “Their platform is learning how to be more accessible. It’s a lot of content, and it is not very accessible. We love working alongside them to expand our audience.”

Speaking about expanding short TV content and subscription to the Indian market, Pilcher said, “We have developed an app which we are starting to roll out slowly. We are not Disney or Netflix that we just roll out an app and advertise through billboards, but we are starting to launch with partners. All of them have announcements with major app groups, conglomerates that are putting together groups of apps to launch, as well as one of the newer OTT partners in Delhi.”

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