'C U Soon' maker on why it's tricky to write movies for streaming platforms

mahesh narayanan
Editor-filmmaker Mahesh Narayanan

Editor-filmmaker Mahesh Narayanan said the possibility of streaming films on platforms like Amazon and Netflix, supposedly unburdened by the pressure of box office, have not made creation any easier.

“I thought there was more liberty, that I could play around with pacing, and be more relaxed. That is not the case,” Mahesh said during the Fireside Chat on 'Streaming Content Ecosystem' at Manoramaonline's Techspectations on Saturday. He said he had to break the usual act-based regular script structure.

“For a normal film, the script is written in various acts. In the first Act there would be the exposition of characters, then there would be a leading incident, then a mid-point, and from there a pre-climax, climax and culmination,” Mahesh said.

When he started writing 'C U Soon' for streaming through Amazon, he found the writing to be far more trickier. Reason: “If the plot is not intriguing, or if there is no emotional connect, then the viewer will straightaway get out. Unlike in a theatre, they also have the option to skip certain phases of the movie,” Mahesh said.

The first and perhaps the most important lesson Mahesh learned while making content for streaming is the need to frontload the intrigue factor. “The intrigue factor has to come earlier (in the film). People should not miss it,” Mahesh said.

In short, the film should not be predictable. “That's the challenge. Whatever the viewer expects, the opposite should happen. This way the viewer can be kept glued to the content," he said.

Vijay Subramaniam, the director and head of content, Amazon Prime Video India, said Amazon did not really interfere with content creation. “Our products are happy to share content with us. It is a path of collaboration that really works,” Vijay said.

Besides the amazing storyline, what convinced Vijay to take up 'C U Soon' was producer Fahadh Faasil's vision. “I remember the first call Fahadh gave me. He said he had an intriguing story by Mahesh but also said he did not want his film to be even a minute longer than 90 minutes. He asked me if there was any problem. It was this vision that got me hooked,” Vijay said.

Post-COVID multi-tasking would be the other skill that would be sought after in shooting locations, at least in the case of middle and low budget films. It was the demands made by the pandemic that made Mahesh persuade his crew to multitask.

"Usually we have three or four camera attenders. During the shoot of 'C U Soon' we limited it to one. He was then asked to work as the boom operator also," Maheh said.

By now the industry has come to know of the benefits. "I think this would be the new normal," Mahesh said.

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