The basic premise of our pricing
It is important to clarify that Magic Lantern Foundation is a non-profit organisation. Although our distribution initiative has a predominant element of ‘commerce’ involved, most of the revenue earned from each sale goes back to the filmmakers as royalty. In concrete terms, 65% of the revenue is paid to the filmmakers as royalty and 35% is used by MLF for mastering, duplication, packaging, promotion, marketing and administration. Hence, more than being a profiteering venture, the initiative is conceived as a mechanism to assist independent filmmakers to disseminate their work and earn some revenue on their behalf to support the making of these incredible films.
A frequent complaint from our viewers is that our prices are ‘too high’. They ask why should they pay Rs. 500 for a DVD, when full-length feature films are available in the market for Rs. 90, or even some for Rs. 60. It is a difficult point to argue, but we feel that the films that Under Construction is distributing are a) not commercially released and distributed in the scales that commercial feature films are, and b) these films are rare and difficult to access, as are many award winning feature films that are not outright commercial. We feel we can request our viewers to provide the support that these films require till they become more ‘popular’. In fact, we too are eagerly looking forward to times when our films can compete in equal terms with the commercial releases. But it will take time.
For similar reasons, we have a differential pricing for our films. The Under Construction films are available in Four distinct price categories:
As the name suggests, individual film viewers in India automatically fall under this category. However, NGOs, community based groups, Campaign and non-funded groups based in India also fall in this price category.
Films are available in both VCD and DVD and the prices are the lowest among all the other categories. Invoices are made in the name of the individual or the eligible groups mentioned above.
Films with South Asia rights are available at the equivalent Indian prices to South Asian viewers as well. South Asia includes India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
However, films sold under this category are strictly for private viewing. Commercial or public exhibition or circulation over LAN or cable networks are strictly forbidden.
Colleges, schools, libraries, universities, other institutions of higher learning, UN agencies, Ministries and Government bodies, Indian NGOs that operate internationally, film festivals, film archives, exhibitions, etc., fall under this pricing category.
The price range in this category is substantially higher than the ‘Individual’ category and only DVDs are available to institutions.
Invoices will be made in the name of the institution only.
Many of our viewers ask us the reason for charging institutions higher for the same ‘product’. Firstly, we strongly believe that institutions are expected to and are in a better financial position to take a proactive role in supporting the genre of independent films. Besides, the views per film in an institution is likely to be much higher than what an Individual archivist may be able to. For example, a film in a college library is likely to be accessed and viewed by hundreds of students as well as the faculty. Each film may be screened several times by different departments to classes full of students. Hence we have consciously kept the price in this category commensurately higher than that in the ‘Individual’ category.
Films with South Asia rights are available at the equivalent Indian prices to South Asian Institutions.
Films sold under this category are NOT for circulation over LAN or cable networks. These films are strictly for private viewing, library use or classroom viewing, and not for commercial or public exhibition.
Individual viewers in countries other than India or South Asia fall under this category.
Only DVDs of films with ‘World Rights’ are available for this category.
Invoicing will be in the name of an individual.
The student’s discount that is available to Indian or South Asian students is not applicable.
Films sold under this category are NOT for circulation over LAN or cable networks. Also, these films are strictly for private viewing and not for commercial or public exhibition.
Universities, colleges, schools, libraries, UN agencies, NGOs, film festivals, exhibitors, commercial enterprises, etc. in countries other than India or South Asia fall under this pricing category. Only DVDs of films with ‘World Rights’ are available for this category, and the prices in this category are substantially higher than the ‘Individual’ category for reasons similar to ‘Institutions (India)’.
Invoices will be made in the name of the institution only.
Films sold under this category are NOT for circulation over LAN or cable networks. Also, these films are strictly for private viewing, library use or classroom viewing, and not for commercial or public exhibition.
A few contentious issues
Many a time, individuals representing institutions such as colleges and institutions of higher learning tend to purchase our films in their individual capacities, while they use the films in their institutions. We cannot stop this practice, but urge you to refrain from doing so. We feel a better approach would be to request your respective institutions to purchase the films at the Institutional rates. That way, many more people will have access to the films and the filmmakers too will gain from the higher royalty. Ultimately, it will help the films to reach more people.
An equally contentious issue is that of unauthorised copying. It is not that we are in opposition to ‘piracy’ – a term that has been coined by the proprietory industries that are global, highly profit mongering and earn millions from the products by denying the conceptualisers, designers and makers of those products the deserved share of that profit. Besides, the technology is such that it is virtually impossible to stop anyone from copying.
However, we urge you not to equate these films and their makers with the proprietory nature of software, music or film industries. We once again underline, the proceedings from the sale of these films are not to earn profit but to support the filmmakers and encourage them to make many more meaningful and extraordinary films independently. Hence, if you want more such films to be made, do refrain from copying and instead encourage more and more people to purchase and view them, so that the filmmakers also find a reason and enthusiasm to continue.