“ABC Talkies is a true film-tech platform for indie and amateur filmmakers”
ABC Talkies is a new unique marketplace for filmmakers to upload their films and monetise on their own terms. It has been envisaged as a platform for Indie, amateur and budding filmmakers to showcase and seek monetisation opportunities. In this interaction with Adgully, ABC Talkies’ founders Shalibhadra Shah and Siddharth Sinha, talk about the new platform and its uniqueness. Excerpts:
What exactly is ABC Tallkies? What is the inspiration behind launching this platform?
ABC Talkies has been envisioned as India’s first film-tech and the world’s first unified cinema marketplace. In its present avatar, it is the first-of-its-kind open-access streaming platform for filmmakers or any genres or language or region to upload their films free and monetise on their own terms without compromising their rights and minus the hassles of finding aggregators and distributors. The long-term vision of ABC Talkies is to create disruption in the industry through innovation based on AI, ML and quantum computing.
The inspiration for ABC Talkies? We found a big void in the monetisation opportunities for the larger pool of filmmakers, especially indie, amateurs, and budding filmmakers. Before ABC Talkies, the only option for filmmakers who could not find favour with theatres, DTH channels, and OTTs was to go to YouTube, where they would get lost and the monetisation opportunity was nominal or negligible.
Unlike all other OTT platforms, ABC Talkies does not restrict any films from being uploaded on its platform as long as they conform to government guidelines. There is no cost to the filmmaker for uploading the film on ABC Talkies.
ABC Talkies is the only DIPP-recognised start-up in the film-tech category under the StartUp India Initiative of the Government of India. We can proudly say that we are truly a Make in India platform and the technology has been built in India from the scratch.
The platform allows the filmmaker to upload the film and all details, including trailer and posters without any human intervention.
ABC Talkies is a true film-tech platform, and not just another OTT platform, as it does not utilise technology to simply stream films but it is actually working to combine films and technology to offer a completely different experience to the audience.
The recent cinematic revolution driven by OTT platforms has changed the nature of film viewing tremendously and this has been an inspiration. It really opened the doors of opportunity for niche players like us. Also, Indie cinema is gaining acceptance and there could not be a more opportune time for Indie filmmakers to find their footing and grow than now.
Tell us about the promoters, initial funding, etc.
ABC Talkies was bootstrapped with investment of Rs 1.5 crore by the founders themselves. ABC Talkies raised is first angel investment of Rs 2 crore through their network of friends and family in October 2021.
What were the initial challenges and how did you overcome them?
Since the business model of ABC Talkies was completely different from standard OTT platforms, it was not possible to pick up an off-the-shelf SAAS product and white-label it. We had to create everything ground up. We also faced a failure with our first release in October 2021, to the extent that we had to take a conscious but hard decision to scrap the entire platform and start from scratch. We went back to the drawing board and successfully launched our MVP within three months.
The first challenge after the MVP was to build a content library before we could initiate our consumer acquisition while adding new features to the existing MVP. We have successfully built a library of 200 films and the next challenge is to improve the quality of films to start the viewer acquisition process.
What have been the marketing and promotional activities undertaken?
Social media platforms, personal networking with filmmakers, PR activities, online interactions with filmmaker communities, etc., are some of the initiatives employed to popularise the platform. The digital marketing and viewer outreach will begin from next quarter.
What are your plans to scale and take ABC Talkies to the next level?
ABC Talkies has already charted its annual expansion plan that comprises some industry-wide disruptions. Though ABC Talkies is pan-India, it is following a focused state approach starting with two Southern states and move the focus gradually to other states. Once completed, ABC Talkies will move to global markets. It currently has leads in Africa, Canada and the US markets.
ABC Talkies has also initiated talks with potential investors and brands in the content production sector.
What is your vision for ABC Talkies? Where do you see the platform two years from now?
As India’s first film-tech platform, our vision is to create a unique marketplace for cinema that caters to a ‘Glocal’ audience, that is, filmmakers and consumers. Our end objective is that we want to become the trusted digital library where OTTs can come and buy commercially viable Indie films directly from the creator. As a platform, we will act as a catalyst for independent cinema since independent filmmakers now have a way to monetise their work, which in turn will infuse better cinema into this category. The task is definitely uphill and it will require us to sustain ourselves for the long haul, but we are very positive about the future of Indie cinema based on our business plans.