director and head, content, Amazon Prime Video, India
On the challenges
First, it’s important for us to recognise what our customers want and cater to that want. Therefore, it’s really important to have a diverse portfolio. Within that, how to balance various stories, genres and make the right selection is a very interesting creative challenge for us. With every show and every piece of content that we create, we are learning - both from our customers as well as creative experiences. Given that it’s unchartered territory, what is the right balance? How do you tweak it? What kind of genres do you present first? What kind of genres should you focus on least?
Second, what we are doing is new to this country and its storytelling fraternity. To some extent, we are also creating an ecosystem within the market place. So, that is a challenge because people understand the medium and are very excited about it but it also requires a certain shift in the way you think about stories, post production and so on.
Third, the current infrastructure needs to quickly adapt to fast-paced global standards. We launched a show like Breathe in 200 territories, thus setting the bar high for the post-production team and technical specs. People are quickly realising and doing everything required to adapt to this new standard.
Lastly, this form of storytelling is clearly a writers’ paradise. We believe that battles are won and lost in the writers’ room. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into the writing and development process. This a new muscle that a lot of creators are learning to exert.
On finding the right writer
We don’t really make any distinction between TV writers and film writers. For us every story, concept and script is taken on merit. It’s really up to the creators to determine what kind of writers, they believe, will be able to execute the concept. So, the writers’ room can have a mix of people. Scripting is a rigorous development process and that can take months, or even years. And to that end it is very different from TV.
On attracting viewers
Everything we do as Amazon Prime is customer-centric. Understanding the existing taste and preference of our customers (when it comes to entertainment) and trying our best to cater to it whilst constantly understanding emerging trends through dialogue and conversation is most important.
On generating engaging content
Our first port of call was filmmakers because we wanted cinematic quality, finite fiction content. We approached established producers like Excel Media & Entertainment and Kabir Khan Productions. The opportunity for us now is to be able to nurture talent and storytellers, and bring their stories to life.