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Singapore Platform: David Puttnam Reiterates Call For Shorter Theatrical Windows

Leading producer-turned-educator and lobbyist, Lord David Puttnam has once again called for a shortening of theatrical release windows. As recently as May this year, Puttnam had suggested a six-week exclusive period for theatrical releases. He now says that 30 days is ideal.

Puttnam was in conversation on Sunday with Singaporean filmmaker Boo Junfeng (“Apprentice”) at the ongoing Singapore International Film Festival.

“There is this ridiculous holdback on product,” said Puttnam. “Ideally, we should, very rapidly, move towards a 30-day holdback. After which (films) should be available on whatever medium people want.”

Puttnam was scornful of the idea of a film being available in cinemas for just three weeks, before making way for newer releases, but then not being available to audiences for the next 12-14 weeks when they need to be re-launched in other formats. “All that people want to see, has disappeared. Then, you’re surprised when people pirate it,” said Puttnam. “They can’t get it in the cinema, they still can’t get it on the mobile, they’ve to wait for three months to watch it. It’s ridiculous. So, the industry has a lot of thinking to do.”

Puttnam has film producer credits including “The Duellists,” “Midnight Express,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Local Hero,” and “The Killing Fields.” After hanging up his producing boots, he has been involved in a range of activities, including being the U.K.’s cultural envoy to Southeast Asia. He has close ties with Singapore – the film school at Lasalle is named after him, and he regularly delivers masterclasses there.

Talking about the current state of the Singapore film industry, Puttnam said, “I think there is just a sense of ‘success is possible,’ but it now needs a push. I really think it’s taken too long to come to the party. The moment is now. Actually, the moment is past now, the moment was two years ago.”

Puttnam said that the Singapore industry needs to grow in self-confidence, and that neighboring Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam are making faster progress.

Puttnam also spoke out against red carpet events. “As an industry, I’m very worried that we’ve become red carpet obsessed,” Puttnam said. “It’s got nothing to do with making movies.” Puttnam said that making cinema is a lengthy and painful process and the red carpet is fleeting. He described red carpet pageants as “90-second thrills.”

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