The untapped prospects of digital cinema
This article was published in the Daily Financial Express
Digital film is what is made using digital technology especially in production and post-production stages and displayed, using the digital projection system. Decades ago, it was a very expensive media used by the Hollywood studios only. However, with the improvement of technology and production, digital filmmaking technology is widely available now and, thus, the cost of filmmaking is so reduced that a digital film-making needs only half of the average budget for a film-format cinema.
The Bangladeshi filmmakers are in the primary phase of making digital films. Very few filmmakers are using digital technology in their filmmaking; obviously, the main reason behind this is the lower cost of filmmaking. Producing film at lower cost is not new in Bangladesh; it is the successor to the short film movement carried out by the alternative filmmakers like Morshedul Islam, Tanvir Mokammel and Tareq Masud that began in the 80s. The alternative filmmakers are also the pioneer of the digital filmmaking – some energetic and innovative filmmakers like Animesh Aich, Nurul Alam Atique, Mostofa Sarwar Farooqi and Wahed Tareq join with the old folks.
Filmmaking using computer-based technology shows good prospect for an underdeveloped film industry like ours. Many dreams of filmmaking cannot see the light of the day due to non-availability of the funds. Digital films can help in removing the problem. Compared with the traditional filmmakers, it is found that digital filmmakers are innovative, technology-friendly and hard-working. New filmmakers are highly educated; some of them are having degrees on filmmaking from prominent institutes abroad. Their stories are different, focusing various aspects of social and economic phenomena, far beyond the traditional stories. All traditional films are not of worse quality; rather, some are very good, most of the digital films that have been produced in the last five years have become popular due to their storyline and quality image.
Since traditional filmmaking is Film Development Corporation (FDC) centered, it requires a long, bureaucratic process that costs time, money and interest. On the contrary, due to the availability of funds and technology, digital films are not FDC-centered; rather, anyone with necessary funds can set up a mini laboratory in any house that would simplify the process only.
The most important factor of any film’s success — the viewers — is in favour of digital filmmakers. It is because most of the digital filmmakers gained experience and prepared themselves by producing drama for TV channels. As a result, viewers are familiar with them and have faith in their quality.
TV channels along with the DVDs play a vital role creating the market of digital cinema. Some of the TV channels are providing necessary funds and technology to produce digital cinemas that are also available in DVDs and VCDs. Thus, any digital cinema can reach to all classes of people. Even some local cable service providers are the buyers of these digital cinemas.
However, it also creates problems. Since the cost of producing digital cinema is lower and the technologies are widely available, many so-called filmmakers are born here and there. Lots of under-quality visuals are made that are neither cinema nor drama. DVDs like ‘Baba go’ or ‘Sundory Shali’ are available in the local shops that are full of vulgar dialogues and acting. Censorship and proper guidelines for digital visuals are needed to control these.
Although digital movies are made, they can’t be displayed publicly in cinema halls because of the traditional projection system. Only two/three cinema halls have the arrangements to show digital cinemas and this is very much insufficient. Lack of proper government regulations also barred the revolution of film industry. Films like ‘Priotomeshu’ by Morshedul Islam, ‘Dubsatar’ by Nurul Alam Atique, ‘Kanna’ by Maruf Hossain and ‘Fire Eso Behula’ by Tanim Noor are some of the films that are jailed in red tapes. All these films were made in digital formats but only the Almighty knows when they will see the face of light.
Although TV channels and DVDs create a good market for digitally made visuals, they are not sufficient. Moreover, a ban on the export of entertainment materials through CDs, VCDs, and DVDs are squeezing the market. Government has been losing a considerable amount of foreign exchange since 2003 while the digital filmmakers are losing prospective markets.
Movies represent culture, promote economy and accelerate revolution. Only digital movies can now be the vehicle for improving film industry. Young and innovative digital filmmakers will raise the prestige of the country at abroad, we have faith on them.
The writer is a student, Department of Marketing, Dhaka University. He can be reached at e-mail: [email protected]