Previously we published Parts I and II of our exclusive interview with rising star in the British production business, Roopesh Parekh. Today we bring you the conclusion of this insightful interview in which we learn a few more things about Roopesh as well as getting into an interesting discussion about why some TV shows, like ‘Downton Abbey’ (SPOILERS!) take so long to reach US shores.
and the ‘Downton Abbey’ controversy.
Q. If you could make any movie, what would it be?
“Um…there’s quite a few, but I’m going to go with the simple, cheeky one which is Bugsy Malone. I love that film. It’s such a good story and I love everything about it, the stars, the design, the script.”
Q. When you watch a movie/TV program are you using your producing knowledge or you just watch it, as a fan?
“There lies the difficulty because sometimes, you just try to watch something, because you want to watch it (laughs), but you’re thinking, how did they do that? Or wondering how much something costs.”
Q. I can’t imagine being in the business and trying to watch something for your own enjoyment.
“It is difficult. I’ve been trying to figure out a way in which I can actually enjoy watching. So the first time I watch it, that happens, I analyze things, but the second time I watch it I can forget about all of that and just focus on the film or show. But a lot of the time I’m like, wow, how did they do that? And I just kept thinking about it, wondering how much money went into it.
You also think about who works on it, like the costumes in a period drama, I’d be, who’s the costume designer, because you want to make sure that next time you’re doing a period drama and you’re getting that person, so you try and talk to them. But watching something for a second time is not as exciting, because you know the story line. So yeah, it’s difficult, so the short answer is yes, it’s difficult to watch it as a fan. I think you can always appreciate something, but in the back of your mind you’re wondering.”
Q. You’re using your knowledge of the business.
Q. What is your favorite genre?
“Um….my favorite genre is comedy. I’ve always loved comedy and I’ve always wanted to produce romantic comedy movies as well. I watch so much comedy, American and British comedy, I really enjoy it. I also enjoy horror or drama, but comedy is what I like. And I watch different TV shows and movies that come out such as crime mystery.”
Q. So what are your favorite American shows or comedies?
“Obviously, everyone’s going to say Friends, because it’s just great. I think it’s one of those shows that will never loose its appeal. Things like Two and a Half Men also, 30 Rock, but just the first season. I absolutely love The West Wing, I love Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip, it only lasted for one season, with Matthew Perry from Friends.”
(some technical problems. Then we got into some discussion about other shows.)
Roopesh: Name me some American shows.
RE: What about 24?
Roopesh: Yeah 24, never really got into it. I’m very specific about what I like to watch.
RE: Did you like Spooks?
Roopesh: Yeah, Spooks is wonderful, I wish it was still running.
RE: Me too. I’m more of a historical fiction/period drama type of person. I do enjoy some sit-coms, like ‘Fresh Prince’ with Will Smith.
Roopesh: ‘Fresh Prince’ is great, love it.
Back to the interview.
Q. What are you excited about in the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?
“What I’m excited for in the future is, there are 4 or 5 films that I’d be budgeting for in the next weeks, which hopefully are going to be shot later this year, so I’m excited about those. I can’t talk about any of them yet, because of all sorts of reasons.”
Q. Yes, the mysterious industry stuff.
“Yeah, there you go. But there are a few interesting projects I got coming up and then, in terms of where I see myself in five years, hopefully, producing bigger and bigger budget films. I hope that in five years time, I’ll be producing 20-30 million dollar movies as opposed to the 5-6 million dollar movies I’m producing now. So just kind of keeping that progression going really. That’s the plan.”
Q. So for you, Red Dwarf X is the biggest production you’ve been involved with, as far as TV?
“Yes, it is the biggest project I’ve been involved with for TV. Inside No. 9 will be pretty big when it comes out. But Red Dwarf just has such great fan base behind it. So hopefully they’ll be a few more of those in the next years.
Q. We discussed (on Twitter) the fact that shows/films are not released at the same time around the world, this spoils the fun for fans. Do you think this will ever change, with the emergence of different technologies?
“The industry is changing. There used to be a time when a show would come out in the UK and it would take a good year to get to the US. It’s like Neighbors, an Australian show, is a year behind in the UK. There are other shows that are a few months behind. That doesn’t really happen anymore, the gap between opening in the UK and opening in America is reducing, because of the amount of ways in which you can watch a show now, it doesn’t make any sense to leave a show for a year, because people will buy the DVD or leak it on the Internet.”
Q. You probably loose a ton of money with that problem.
“Oh absolutely. And there’s just…the world is changing even since 10 years ago. The way we all watch films and TV are very different. There’s Skype Free where you can pull live TV, you can record multiple shows at the same time, in the UK we have BBC iPlayer, so you can watch BBC shows 7 days after they’ve been transmitted. Then you’ve got Netflix and Hulu and all those kinds of organizations as well. Just the way in which people watch shows is different, there is no need for it to be such long release time anymore. There is nothing really to gain and the industry is changing. I won’t be surprised if in the next 2-3 years, we find that a show gets released in the UK, let’s say a show has 6 episodes, by the time the sixth episode is shown it will be available in America to watch episode one. I think that will be the first phase, in two years time. I think within 3-4 years you will be able to watch a show in the US and the UK within a week.”
Q. As you say that, I’m thinking Ripper Street is a good example. It started a couple of weeks ago in the UK (BBC) and it premiered in the US on Jan. 19th (BBC), so we’re going to be watching it while it’s still being shown in UK. So I suppose the adjustment is already being made, by BBC at least.
“The thing with Ripper Street is that it was being advertised during the Olympics (in England), I mean, they’ve had such a big lead up to it. It’s quite a big production and also I think Hulu have invested in Ripper Street as well. Downton Abbey is not BBC it’s ITV, so they have completely different ways of doing things. In the UK, the BBC doesn’t show commercials, I don’t know if you knew that.”
Q. Yes, I think I knew that. PBS is that way here in the US.
“Exactly, PBS is like BBC in the UK. So BBC is not allowed to show any commercials at all as to where ITV is purely financed with its advertising power, so the BBC has a lot more flexibility to put out a show in the States, because it really doesn’t matter, their revenue is generated by their license. So the production company that’s making Ripper Street would put in half or something like that. In Downton Abbey’s case, a series in which each episode costs over a million pounds, nothing like some of the big American shows, I mean Charlie Sheen alone gets paid more than that per episode alone. But here, to spend a million pounds an episode is the highest end of the theater and it’s all paid for via advertising.
So because of advertising relations they have to have a delay in what they show here in the UK and what they show in the States. A lot of people watch it at the same time on the internet anyway, so it is changing. The other thing that’s happening is, at least in the UK, you can now get a show here and within 24 hours it will be available for download on iTunes in the UK. What they also realize is that they can’t wait for the DVD, so in order for iTunes to make any money it has to be available within 24 hours. So everything is speeding up and all the platforms of how you watch a TV show or movie are changing. So it will change. So things like Downton Abbey, ITV will always be a little bit behind in that trend, compared to BBC.”
Q. So it depends on the outlet really?
“It’s the outlet, it’s part of the financing deal, there’s a lot of without trying to make it sound too complicated, a lot has to do with exclusivity, the fact that something’s paid for the British taxpayers, needs to be seen by the British first. We don’t really have a studio system like they do in the States, so a lot of these big shows are funded by 20th Century Fox and they’ve got millions of outlets in which they can broadcast their show, we can’t, it’s very different to film in the UK.
So there are all those factors and also it’s a little bit of the tradition, from all those years ago, you show a British show in the UK first and after 3 months you show it in the US, if it does well here, it will do well there. There’s also the issue of which network you show it in, in America. Sometimes, new shows, Downton Abbey everyone knows it’s going to sell in America, but you put a new show together. Inside No. 9 has no US deal right now, but if it does really, really well here, PBS or CBS or one of the other networks will want to pick it up, but we don’t know that.
You can spend 3 months negotiating the contract, but you don’t always know if a show that’s produced in the UK is going to be successful in the US. One thing to remember is shows like Friends, which is distributed by Warner Bros, which has global reach to advertise the show and it knows when it’s going to be shown and they’ve got the money and the channels and distribution deals, whereas all the British shows are almost case by case, there is no blueprint. It all depends on who’s financing. Britain has a very, very independent system and that’s not a good thing, because there’s not enough finance available, it’s the same group of people who fund the projects, we don’t have big enough studio systems, and we don’t have big enough projects to be able to fund what we want. So every show gets reviewed on a stand alone basis. I do think it’s changing and it will change.
You also have the American schedules, which have been planned so far in advance; they can’t just say we’re going to show this next week. So if Series 4 of Downton Abbey starts tomorrow, they can’t show it the next day in the US, because they can’t fit it in their schedule. That is a difficult thing to solve, so that’s why they’re trying to come up with things like having it available on iTunes, so it will change, we just have to see what’s going to happen within the next couple of years.”
Q. It’s good to know, since the whole Dan Stevens controversy (Dan’s character was killed off in the last episode of season 3) is happening; now he’s getting hate on social media.
“The thing with that is that Downton is still huge, it hasn’t declined at all and Dan has left at the height of the show’s popularity and now with the world of social media, you know, people are going to tweet about it and facebook. So you’re always going to find that you get spoiled or things get leaked even if a show is broadcast on Friday in the UK and on Saturday in the US, people are still going to find out what happens. That’s the social media world now. The terms ‘spoiler alert’ are becoming commonplace.”
This concludes our exclusive interview with line producer Roopesh Parekh.
Additionally to the films already mentioned in this piece, Roopesh also produced the world’s first 3D street dance documentary Shortlisted: Steppin’ Krew 3D, starring Sisco Gomez (‘So You Think You Can Dance’) which is currently being sold by Electric Sky for 2013 and Roopesh produced three-times world ballroom dancing champion Pierre Dulaine (the inspiration for ‘Take The Lead’ starring Antonio Banderas) for a documentary on American Ballroom Theatre.
‘Love Tomorrow’ Trailer.
Winner of Best British Feature at the Raindance Film Festival 2012
Prior to this Roopesh line produced Corona Pictures, AV Pictures and Met Film’s Truth or Dare (released through Cine Britannia & Showbox in the UK) and line produced for Emmy-award winning filmmakers The Ballet Boyz modern day ballet love story, Love Tomorrow, which won Best British Feature at Raindance 2012.
Over the span of his career, Roopesh has line produced for Emmy Award-winning producer Kim Bour (’10 Bulls’, ‘Singing Stones’), co-founder of Working Title Films Sarah Radclyffe and BAFTA nominated director Nicolas Roeg (‘The Mapmaker’), Emmy-award winning director Michael King (‘Heroes of the Holocaust’) and has served as development producer for double BAFTA-award winning director Stuart Urban.
Roopesh is represented by Jacqui Fincham at Creative Media Management.
We thank Roopesh Parekh again, for the time he spent answering our questions and providing us with all his biographical information.