Entrepreneurship KSA conducted an interview with Pratixa Kanojia, Co-Founder of “The Plot Pictures”- the first independent film studio in the GCC and MENAT (Middle East North Africa Turkiye) region- to get her insights into the field of entrepreneurship, its challenges, how to stimulate film production in Saudi Arabia, nurture upcoming talents in the Kingdom, the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs and obstacles they face as well as other long term projects that “The Plot Pictures” will launch in the near future.
Here is the excerpt from the interview.
Entrepreneurship: Pratixa Kanojia, thanks for offering us this opportunity. To set the ball rolling, how did your journey in the world of entrepreneurship start?
Kanojia: Entrepreneurs need to define their path early on in life. My journey in entrepreneurship began a long time back when I set up a production department at Dejavu 11 years ago. That was my first initiation into this world, but no journey can be claimed by a single person alone; it needs the engagement of people and it automatically becomes a journey of multiple people as you traverse from one point to another. In my time at Craft Worldwide, I not only set up the production department but also consolidated the studio and postproduction units, centralizing the efforts of all agencies under the McCann Group into one unit to cover production, post-production, and studio from a unified central hub to maximize output.
Entrepreneurship: What are the main obstacles that you have faced? How did you overcome them?
Kanojia: No journey is devoid of challenges and how you put a positive spin to these challenges for your benefit is totally up to you. The best thing about being a part of this business is the many opportunities it offers in order to maximize the tools that are available. The key challenge for “The Plot Pictures” is that there were no historical precedents to learn from, as we are the first independent film studio in the region. So, we are more likely to be trendsetters in that regard in the near future.
Entrepreneurship: Women in the Entrepreneurial field face many problems. Is there a specific situation that you remember? How did you overcome it?
Kanojia: Overcoming challenges in the film production industry requires a combination of hard work, determination, and strategic thinking. By building a strong network, staying informed, and being adaptable, women entrepreneurs can succeed in this field which is a people’s business. Persistence is key in any entrepreneurial endeavor. Don’t give up easily and keep pushing forward despite setbacks or challenges. In summary, I would say, believe in yourself and your abilities, no matter who you are or where you come from. Confidence can help women overcome any obstacles in their careers.
Entrepreneurship: Why did you choose to reach out to Saudi Arabia to step up film production?
Kanojia: The region, with KSA at its forefront, is at its peak in development. KSA has invested greatly on cinema and the entertainment industry at large. There is a vast canvas for storytellers that lies undiscovered and now it has opened a plethora of unique talent, deep culture, and varied topography. There are enormous talents in Saudi Arabia, we know this from the work we have already done through Dejavu in this region. Be it creativity in the field of storytelling, acting, or film production – there is talent in abundance, and the Kingdom is looking for a platform to give it wings. We hope to be on that platform!
Entrepreneurship: From your point of view, how do you see the nurturing of talents in Saudi Arabia in the production sector?
Kanojia: Being a melting pot of cultures, Saudi Arabia offers multiple and varied opportunities for local talents. The history, geography, and commerce of the Kingdom are encouraging talents to come to the forefront with impeccable tech, easy set-up processes, training, and mentorship through creatives labs at film festivals such as the Red Sea Film Festival mentorship programs.
We’ve already seen success through these efforts where the country has hosted and produced movies and TV series for the biggest international studios from around the world like the Desert Warrior and Kandahar to name but a few.
Entrepreneurship: How did the idea of launching “The Plot Pictures” come up?
Kanojia: For several years now, we have been leading the production of different formats in the region from big brand campaigns to B2B content. Observing the pattern of consumption from audiences and having already produced a Hollywood feature film “Beneath a Sea of Lights” in the UAE, “The Plot Pictures” was the natural next step in the growth of the Network.
Entrepreneurship: How will “The Plot Pictures” make the most of talents in Saudi Arabia?
Kanojia: Our main forte is working with local talents to generate international content. We plan to extend this formula to all projects we undertake in KSA. We will not only allow local talents to have a stand-out presence, but we will also make sure that we empower them with tools to stimulate creativity and production that enable them to narrate their stories with a local essence that crosses boundaries and will be recognized internationally.
Entrepreneurship: What are your future plans? How do you seek to achieve them?
Kanojia: Our focus is to bring out hyperlocal stories from the region to the world and to amplify these voices loud enough to be heard across the globe. Efforts from the region have seen a few gains in the recent past, but that isn’t enough. More and more voices in the cinema sector need to come from the GCC region. We are here to bring the unheralded from the sidelines into the ring.
Entrepreneurship: How do you see the Saudi market’s potential in the field of creative production?
Kanojia: The Saudi market in the field of creative film production has been experiencing significant growth and development in recent years. The Saudi government has been actively promoting the growth of the creative industries in the country, including film production, as part of its Vision 2030 economic diversification plan. As I mentioned earlier, the establishment of the Red Sea International Film Festival in 2020 is another significant development in the Saudi film industry. The festival aims to promote Saudi and Arab cinema as well as create opportunities for local filmmakers to showcase their work to international audiences. These are great markers for the growth of the industry and we hope to be at its forefront in support of the local talents.
Entrepreneurship: Is the project of nurturing the local talents in KSA close to reality and today’s scene?
Kanojia: Like I said earlier, Saudi is a major melting pot of culture and talents. The talents are evident across the Kingdom and we are also seeing talents from the rest of the GCC moving to KSA for opportunities. Saudi Arabia is putting more effort to nurture talents so that they can realize their potential and deliver authentically on their creativity. The local and regional talents need to enjoy a wide platform and various tools so that they can do their best in creating authentic and regionally relevant contents that reflect modern society.
Entrepreneurship: Some people are not quite familiar with creative production. How can you address this matter?
Kanojia: I think creativity and storytelling are very subjective professions. So much of it depends on the observer’s background, culture, family, and environment. Also, there’s a widespread myth that our region isn’t as evolved in terms of technology, equipment, and talents to service creative production. So, the fact that many mega Hollywood features have been produced in the region is a good telltale for this myth to be addressed.
Entrepreneurship: What projects are you planning to launch in Saudi Arabia?
Kanojia: We are working on three projects currently – two TV series and one feature film that are being co-created by completely local talents. In time, we will release more details about these projects as we cross the development phase. Honestly, we are very excited to be pioneering the effort to create features that are central and authentic to the region.
Entrepreneurship: What do you think is missing from independent films in the region?
Kanojia: One of the main challenges is the lack of financial support for independent productions. Most of the funding for film productions in Saudi Arabia comes from the government’s public funds or large production companies, which can make it difficult for independent filmmakers to get their projects off the ground.
Another challenge for independent filmmakers in Saudi Arabia is the limited distribution channels for independent films. Most of the cinemas in the country show mainstream Hollywood films, and there are few opportunities for independent filmmakers to showcase their work to local audiences. Our vision is to address these challenges directly and provide opportunities to independent filmmakers and storytellers.
Entrepreneurship: In light of the global economic crises, how can talent and creativity be supported?
Kanojia: The sole focus of “The Plot Pictures” is to ensure that talent and creativity do not have to face the brunt of the changing socio-economic landscape. Our intent is matched by a clear model that ensures the allocation of sufficient funds for development, and pre-development of stories and ensures projects see the ending. We are also striving to help change the current environment and inspire talents to narrate the stories that blossom out of these tough times.
Entrepreneurship: What is the most important advice women engaging in entrepreneurship and business need to heed in particular?
Kanojia: You need to become your own cheerleader. Nobody can support you as you do. The fact that you’re a woman makes you extremely unique and special; so don’t feel overpowered by the naysayers that surround you in this industry. Always remember that your merit and your opinion is as valid as everyone else’s.