Most stakeholders in the film industry are sceptical on how research can help the business of movie making. Traditionally research has been used post production for evaluation, mainly in form of pre-screenings, marketing materials testing etc. Such research has limited application as major changes are too expensive .The story ideas themselves have been firmly in the creative zone, virtually untouchable by research. Creatives see research as critics of their work and hence as adversaries. So how can research be an ally in the creative process rather than a critic? The answer to the question lies in redefining the research paradigm- research the audience, not the movie.

Prior to embarking on the project, a discussion with a couple of creative producers on what they would really want from research brought out the burning need for “new ideas, new concepts, and new trends”- that little seed that could germinate into a screenplay. And the seed had to stay relevant for at least two years- the lead time required for movie production. They wanted research to help create a bank of ideas, research to become a source of spotting trends, research to help the creative and production team travel to various cities and sensitize themselves with what is happening in India beyond their immediate vicinity.

The research was carried out over 3 phases through multiple data collection and analysis methods . Phase 1 involved the key objective of Establishing Macro Trends where the key methods of data collection for base trend identification were secondary research within books, internet chatrooms, forums, reports in the public domain , face to face interviews with thought leaders such as sociologists, journalists etc. and bystanders such as maids, dhobis, caterers, photographers etc. Ethnographic Immersions and Peer Focus Groups were also conducted . In addition, Travel immersions were also conducted . This was done across cities pan India with viewers between 15-36 years of age, NCCS A1, A3B1,B2C, Male /Female (Mix of College going/Housewives/Working women). At the end of this phase, research came up with a list of 45 trends.

Phase 2 involved a trend filtration affinity workshop with all key stakeholders at the client end where the agenda was to shortlist trends which would work as the nucleus of a story and actually create something around it. The client production team came up with 8 script ideas based on the trends

Phase 3 was done along with the scriptwriters to aid character, setting and story development for the stories shortlisted and approved for production. It involved face to face interviews with character prototypes

“A creative producer at a leading studio called me and said we have a superb concept and story idea and want you to work on the script. The idea was exciting and very interesting but I had never interacted with the kind of character the script demanded. So the Pixights research team helped me by scheduling interviews with the character prototype, I travelled to some cities to see the setting, character, interacted at length and got detailed understanding. The research report gave me a lot of fodder to write my script and helped with tremendously with the screenplay. I had developed the character in my mind but this research helped me define the scope of how grey, black or white the characters and scenes can get” (Sumit Batheja, Writer of Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana; A Gentleman)

The research has not just thrown up concept ideas for a movie, but has inspired characters in other movies and screenplay and scenes for movies based on youth. The marketing team uses it to see the hangout places among the youth, websites they visit, lingo used etc, and making online video for digital marketing. The creative and production team – uses it regularly to refresh what’s happening in India, the lingo, the character sketches. Apart from the Movie Studio team, the research was also shared with the Broadcasting team and 2 TV shows based on the trends were made

A research paper based on this project was also chosen to be presented at ESOMAR BEST OF INDIA CONFERENCE 2014. Pixights has conducted 7 such trendspotting exercises till date.