Our very own Ali Azarmi started his career in advertising with Publicis Graphics London in 1987. He made the move to Dubai in 1993. Having worked with BBDO till 2004 as an executive creative director and decided to work as an advertising consultant. Four years later in 2008, he founded the Middle East branch of Joyfilms UK (Joy@RSA) with his partner Mehdi Norowzian.
Following is the featured article in the Campaignme magazine dated Sep 12, 2018.
How is the regional production market changing?
The regional production market has been through a phenomenal transformation in terms of growth and quality. Especially considering the lack of support and resources. Creative standards of agencies and production companies from our region have been recognized internationally. But we have now reached a decisive junction to navigate. We have to diversify, change and redefine our processes. Unsettling as changes always are, they also present new opportunities. Joy Films, for example, has merged with Film Streetwise to become a diversified film production company with capabilities to perform in all forms of video storytelling.
How is demand changing?
Demand is not changing; it is driving the change and it’s accelerating the time to get there. Substance and content became a priority over style for a while, and then style came back, faking both substance and content. Demand is the biggest driving factor in human progress and now it is amplified through the social media mob. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. Everyone wants more for less; it’s human nature. The challenge is that everybody sees a cost and too few see the value. The casualty in this will be that which takes time to craft and perfect until craftsmanship becomes a trend or people will once again appreciate its value.
What is the biggest challenge to regional production houses?
Shrinking budgets, without the understanding or acceptance that processes and scope need to change to accommodate them. But there are different types of production companies with different formulas and different challenges. Commercial film production is no longer the generic descriptor in our field. Production companies in this region must stop defining themselves by their region. Some are more than capable and able to be considered as international. Just because they are based in Dubai, Beirut or Cairo does not mean that this is their operational boundary. They can and should compete internationally.
What high-level reform would most improve the industry?
The fact is that we are not yet an industry. The UAE Production Forum is working very hard on behalf of the whole production community to transform it into an industry. Establishment of industry standards and best practices is one important factor in growing and expanding our market. With its recognition and collaboration with government entities, we can help make the UAE a more economical and profitable production hub for the region, and by attracting more talent it can also grow to become a global production hub.
What changes are you most excited to see in the coming few years?
Peace where there is conflict in our region, and the application of Dubai’s mindset as a blueprint for progress prosperity. Everything else pales into insignificance, even our evolution from a production company to broadcasting. It would be good to see big corporations realize the benefits of interdependence and take responsibility to preserve the business ecosystem.