Focus PK-16 was a two-event that kicked started off on Saturday 3rd of December and concluded on the 4th of December. The event was attended by many celebrities from film, drama, radio and television. Some prominent representatives from the government were also in attendance to participate in the dialogue of the business of entertainment.
The event had nine sessions each day featuring film, television, theatre, cinema, music, radio, censorship, digital marketing and many more.
Two big names in the industry, Anwar Maqsood and Ghazanfar Ali, were given shields to honour their contributions at the conference.
The morning session I attended on Day 1 was Scriptwriting/storytelling for which the panellists were Vasay Chaudhry, Haseena Moin, Bushra Ansari, Iram Parveen Bilal, Kamal Khan and Misbah Khalid as the moderator. The session was quite enlightening as they discussed the issues that are faced by writers even though they are the backbone of the industry.
The significance of a well written is oftentimes neglected and not many people want to invest in the art of writing. Vasay put forward a point where he mentioned that after writing hit serials like ‘Dolly Ki Ayegi Baraat’, ‘Jutt ad Bond’ ‘Humsafar’ and many more that have been played multiple times after their original airing and sold hundreds of thousands of DVDs but the writer isn’t given a single penny. However, the session did have some positive aspects where they talked about how work is being done to encourage young writers and polish their skills. Suggestions were given how some these issues can be tackled.
The afternoon session started after an hour and half break which was quite a banger of a session. The session ‘Censorship Policies’ panellists were Hameed Sheikh, Mubashir Hasan from Central Censorboard, Writer and President Jang group Imran Aslam, actors Bushra Ansari and Usman Peerzada with Samina Ahmed as the moderator. The session started off with Mubashir Hasan briefing the audience with little history of censorship and the key sections that are followed currently being followed. The panellists went back and for debating on what is the critera to censor any content and how the censor board is eligible to censor films. Bushra Ansari proposed a very valid point where she said that out 10 there should be at least 7 members from the industry and the three from concerned organisations like the government and army.
The panel session concluded with everyone agreeing to the fact there should be a censor board but a question in the audience was raised by a filmmaker, Anam Abbas, who was curating a film festival and two of the documentaries were not allowed to be played at the festivals which was ‘Among the Believers’ which was about the Lal Masjid incident and another about Hazara genocide. Usman Peerzada asked why the film was submitted for censorship when there is no censorship for festivals, to which she replied that they were showing it at PNCA and they needed approval. Peerzada said that there is a UN charter that says there is no censorship for festivals at all. Mubashir Hasan, however, failed to give a valid reason as he argued that it represented Pakistan as a ‘failed state’ to which the audience responded like this:
The argument went on saying why does there needs to be a government’s narrative and if there is freedom for the festivals why did she face all these issues. The argument was cut short as they were out of time but the crowd seemed dissatisfied with the session.
After the session, Abbas was asked if the session was a failure to which she said, ‘I wouldn’t say that because I got to get my anger out.’
The final session of the day I attended that day was about Music. The topics to discuss were background scores, piracy, royalty and copyrights. The panellists for the session were Zeb Bagash, Shallum Xavier, Omran Shafique, Danish Khwaja and Zeeshan Chaudhry and was moderated by Zohaib Kazi. The conversation switched between royalties and the music scene in Pakistan. The session highlighted how Pakistani music is still very young and how we shouldn’t rush into defining a sound just yet. Questions were raised about how there are fewer music channels are there now and even they don’t play enough Pakistani content and the reason for that was that no one makes music videos anymore.
They panellists agreed that they were all very passionate about making music which is why they still continue doing so. The record labels are supposed to give you royalties, distribute your music and make you a brand but instead they were doing the opposite to which Zeb Bangash said that torrents and free downloads actually helped her reaching out to her fans at one point when she couldn’t.
While a lot of issues were being put forward, Omar Shaikh announced that a bill had been passed that would help the artists protect their creative property. In the question and answer session Atiqa Odho proposed for an Artist’s association and offered her help in any way if it were required to help this setup.
So, the final session ended on a good note with Uzair Jaswal performing live for the audience before dinner was served.
Next day we were really excited to attend the session on Animation which was going to have Usman Riaz as the speaker and talk about the journey of ‘The Glassworker’ (Sheesha ghar). Unfortunately, the Usman couldn’t make it person (which broke our hearts a little) but a video was played where he explained the story about his journey.
The animation director Aamir Riffat and producer Khizar Riaz joined in to answer questions and announced that they are actually looking to hire and they have a studio in PIDC where they are working on the film.
Radio and FM stations
The second session was about Radio and FM stations for which the panelists were Adeel Azhar, Mehdi Raza, Sohail Hashmi, Zoe Viccaji, Khursheed Ahmed Malik, Faisal Javed and Ali Safina. This session was about the medium and how the audience for the radio is different. Radio is easy and very close, you don’t have to do much but listen. You can be in your pajamas and listen to it under blankets late at night – not in that way but you get the point, I’m sure. Anyway, the style of the medium is art in itself.
The session also discussed about why isn’t there Pakistani content being played on the radio. The panel agreed to bring back good old music and conceptual music. Tina Sani was also asked to join in the panel when she arrived at the session and offered her words of wisdom as well.
Actors vs Producers
The final session was Actors vs Producers which had Omair Rana, Angeline Malik, Erum binte Shahid, Naeem Tariq, Jamal Shah, Hameed Sheikh, Hina Bayat and Sarmad Khoosat as moderator. This session was very useful for young aspiring actors who wish to understand the business. They talked about the contracts, how they work and what to look out for. The actors discussed how they would be expected to do work on the whim of the producers and producers talked about how certain actors would acts spoilt and privileged which would impact not just one person but everyone involved. The session, however, ended on good note where they all discussed on discussing a standardised contract that help safeguard the rights of actors as working professionals.
The conference concluded with a banger performance by Rachel Viccaji and Zeb Bangash.