How has your film expertise and vision for Al Montage developed over the years?
Al Montage sought to be a film production company from the beginning. We started an agency and had some artists as well as a small film division with just two staff who did the camera work and editing. We learned from our mistakes, including how different the pricing structure is when running a service business like ours. Two years after our establishment, we recruited an entertainment industry consultant who supported us in our ambition to become the largest production house in the Arab world. We reorganized the company and focused all our resources on production. It took us three months to adopt the new structure and set up, which was a challenging period for our business performance. Subsequently, business skyrocketed because we had the right processes in place, we knew exactly what we wanted, and we had a strong and accurate pricing model, along with the right skills in place. The market needed production houses that could deliver within schedule and this is what Al Montage could offer. We reinvest our profits into the company, for example by buying additional top-end equipment and training our people to advance our pool of skills.
Where does Al Montage stand today?
We are moving onto a new challenge, namely optimizing our processes and investing in new areas. We are moving from manual to digital processes so we can have advanced reporting, while also gaining a greater insight into even the smallest details of our business. We are developing a CRM system. The entire process will be on a digital platform where we can monitor the timing and issues for each stage. We also see a number of gaps in the market where we intend to invest. It is a challenge in Saudi Arabia today to find the right cast and crew for a film, video, or commercial. We want to create an online platform where one can search for and hire talent. We have already launched a beta version and the feedback from the production houses and customers is that they greatly appreciate this service and want to use it. We are currently in the process of optimizing this platform and building the user experience ready for release in the market by 2Q2018. The platform will also enable people to search for shoot locations and stock footage.
Who would be your clients for this platform?
Our clients are the production houses in this case. In the case of stock footage, this is built up by the community, and production houses, companies, the private sector, the government, and freelancers all pay to use it in their own productions. There are many stock video websites globally; however, there is none specifically for the Arab world, and this is where Al Montage can offer added value. We decided to invest in this area because of the gap in the market where people struggle to find the right talent, crew, and locations. Furthermore, if a client does not have a big budget, we can mix the production between live shoots and stock footage to reduce the cost for the customer. For example, it would cost a minimum of SAR60,000 (USD16,000) to fly a small crew in to film the mosque at Mecca; however, one can buy stock footage for USD3. By offering this platform, we fill this gap in the market. We rely heavily on the community to make this successful because this library of videos is built up by the community. The community has to share on the platform to make it work. This will be an important milestone for Saudi cinema because now that cinema is opening up here, there should be many productions taking place, with the new sources of funding in the country. Film producers need these resources to make their films, and our platform will help them.