We eat a lot of cake at Film Companion. Birthdays, milestones, farewells – everything is an excuse to get happy on sugar – the more gooey and chocolatey, the better. Team members who are leaving cut a cake and then give a speech. We even had a cake delivered in Chennai to celebrate the birthday of Baradwaj Rangan, who heads FC South. The high point of our cake obsession was when Le 15, the much-loved Mumbai patisserie, used our team to test their new concoctions. Some 7 or 8 cakes were delivered to the office – we had to taste and rank them. It was bliss.
However, the last four months have been cake-less. Our last day in office was March 14. We locked down before the official lockdown was announced. The risk to life and health didn’t seem worth it. Over the next few weeks, we figured out how to be an efficient team which doesn’t meet. Zoom, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Skype, Dropbox became essential components. We quickly figured out DIY shoots so interviews and reviews continued. There was no pause in video or text. In fact, our website numbers have grown by more 100 percent through the lockdown. Importantly, there have been no layoffs. Our team, which is more like an extended family, is still in place.
I share this with a sense of pride and gratitude. These are difficult times. In the face of a global pandemic and large-scale human tragedy, a platform aiming to provide credible and compelling entertainment journalism, seems peripheral. But the current situation has once again, shown us the importance of art and artists. Through these isolating and anxiety-inducing months, films, shows, books have given us succour and solace, maybe even kept us sane. Film Companion is an acknowledgement and celebration of that.
This month, we celebrate our 6th anniversary. It’s been an eventful year – our YouTube channel crossed the one million subscribers milestone; we launched Class in Session, an e-learning module with a course on film criticism; we also launched #ReaderWrite in which we publish the best user generated content; there were reviews and interviews, which generated conversation and controversy; and our Actor’s Adda, in which we celebrated some of the best performances of the decade, clocked over seven million views.
There is much to celebrate but cake and cheering will have to wait. This is not the time. Plus, we have miles to go. But thank you for your support, especially in these last few months. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to be your film companion.