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Interview

Moses Ingram on her Debut role as Jolene in “The Queen’s Gambit”

Moses Ingram stepped off the stage at Yale and immediately onto the set of The Queen’s Gambit. The acting newcomer had only two weeks between graduating from the Yale School of Drama in May of last year and flying to Toronto to begin filming.

“The first scene I filmed was a little snippet of the car pulling up and [me] stepping out of the car,” Ingram said. “I definitely overthought it though because I’m like driving in this old-school, fancy car and they’re putting sandbags down like don’t drive too far.”

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (L to R) MOSES INGRAM as JOLENE in episode 106 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020

Translating her skills from the classroom to set was a magical experience for Ingram. So much so, that The Queen’s Gambit writer/director Scott Frank invited her to set her first day to observe.

“I didn’t have any scenes to shoot, but I was just around so they brought me down to set,” Ingram said.

The Queen’s Gambit has been frequently praised by critics and media alike for its excellence in all departments—from the lighting to the acting, to costuming and directing. For Ingram, it was the costumes specifically that she found to be an essential part of getting into character.

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (L to R) MOSES INGRAM as JOLENE in episode 101 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

“It really kind of just started in my body…especially once you put the clothes on and are actually surrounded by other younger people who all thought I was 14,” she said laughing. “I kept trying to tell them, ‘No, you guys, I’m actually an adult.’”

Jolene first appears onscreen as a lonely, misunderstood teenager and has fully blossomed into a strong, successful woman by the final episode. Ingram seemed unperturbed by the difficulties of portraying a character at so many different stages in life, and rather embraced the challenge with the same tenacity adult Jolene displayed for embracing life.

“Standing a little more solid was I think the main thing, and being grown and taking space in a way that she couldn’t when she was younger,” she reflected on playing Jolene’s transformation.

And while teenage Jolene provides comedic relief, it’s adult Jolene that drops bits of sage wisdom. One of the most profound scenes in the show, the “guardian angel” scene, where Beth and Jolene have a conversation on the squash court, was also one of the first Ingram used to audition for the role. Ingram says it was that dialogue that immediately drew her to the project.

“I think I was most intrigued by the fact that Jolene was like damn, you know, I hope you would do the same thing for me,” Ingram said. “Because that’s what love is.”

Ingram went on to reflect on the strong connection between the two “sisters” that stood the test of time.

“I think Beth would do the same thing for her, I think they go way back,” she says. “I think it was more so — as cliché as I’m about to make it sound — ‘You’re my sister and I love you, and this is what we do.’ And I imagine it’s like when you grow up in a place that’s so flawed on so many levels (I mean giving kids tranquilizers) — I hate to say they’re bonded by trauma but in a way they are. And I think at that moment Jolene is saying we are more than our trauma.”

But for Ingram, it wasn’t this pivotal scene that was her favorite to film on the show, but rather a more somber moment.

“The funeral scene. It was kind of late, but it was dark outside, and it was cold and the day before had been long. I think it’s mainly just the one line of Beth being like, ‘I owed him $10,’ and we’re sitting in this man’s funeral…it’s like, ‘Is that really what’s on your mind?’ I was really laughing at that, I thought that was funny,” she laughed.

 

Ingram said she is still getting used to existing in this world and adjusting to a career as an actor but feels she’s been on “a blessed path at this point.” Although The Queen’s Gambit served as her debut, Ingram was acting long before the world of chess and 60s wardrobes came into the picture.

“I started acting when I was probably 9, 10…something like that. My teacher thought it would help with my behavior,” Ingram recalls. “I was very blessed to have teachers who saw me early on. I had a teacher who would send me on errands around the school to get whatever and she would tell me what accent to do.”

Once Ingram fell in love with acting, she said the consequence of not being able to act “became a bargaining chip” for good behavior. As long as she behaved accordingly, she could continue acting. And act she did, all the way from her home city of Baltimore to Yale University where she chose to go by a new name: Moses. Moses isn’t a name typically heard in reference to anyone other than the famed, Biblical prophet—the same prophet that inspired Ingram’s stage name.

“So when we got to school [Yale] they wanted us to register our names because this is the first time they would be publicized so people can see them,” Ingram explains. “And before I got to Yale I had, had such a time just trying to make things work that my name just didn’t feel suited. So I prayed and asked God, ‘What is it? I know it’s not my name now, but it is something.’ And a few days later, I just heard Moses in my head and that was it.”

And it seems to be working out for her just fine. Along with The Queen’s Gambit, Ingram starred alongside Denzel Washington as Lady Macduff in the upcoming Macbeth, set to be released in the summer of next year.

“I’m definitely excited for people to see it,” Ingram said. “It really was an experience that when I look back on it it feels like something that I made up because it just sort of fell together in a way that was that organic.”

This article was first published in The Credits.

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FICCI Frames 2020

[FICCI FAST TRACK COVERAGE] CONTENT, TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS MODELS : THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL SERVICES

The concluding session of the 5th Edition of FAST TRACK DIGITAL, organised by FICCI and presenting partner, the Motion Pictures Association, was on content, technology & business models that will shape the future of digital services. The session was moderated by Mr. Prashanth Rao, Partner & Leader, M & E Consulting and featured a panel with industry experts Mr. Karthik Nagarajan, Head-Content, Wavemaker, Mr. Vinit Mehta, Director-New Business, Brightcove, Mr. Saugata Mukherjee, Head of Original Content – SonyLIV, and Ms. Kranti Gada, Chief Operating Officer, Shemaroo Entertainment Limited.

In a year of unprecedented change, the session shifted the lens to the future of the streaming ecosystem to explore the potential of the industry, how it will shape up and what needs to be done to ensure systemic growth for industry players as well as audiences.

While the panel unanimously agreed that the online content industry will see growth, and that market penetration in rural consumption is also exceeding expectations, several challenges were flagged.

Ms. Kranti Gada highlighted a key reason for churn in users was a gap between intent to consume & sampling of platforms and the challenges in payment systems to enable long term accessibility. She said that currently the cost of reaching a mass audience is quite high. Different styles of content are required for SVOD vs AVOD etc.

Mr. Saugata Mukherjee noted a shift from long-form content to “bingeworthy” content that should further increase audience retention and engagement. He shared that SonyLIV is adapting a defined content strategy. For the time being, they are staying away from big-ticket films and are choosing content which is target oriented.

The panel also noted how the evolution of viewing devices influences creators and services to reimagine new content but also how to integrate advertisers into ecosystem to unlock additional revenue streams.

Further, Mr. Vinit Mehta touched upon the subject of a more advanced technology ecosystem including scalable, accessible and reliable technology to improve viewer experience.

To conclude, the future of the industry appears positive and promising. We are seeing good habits forming when it comes to consuming content on demand, on the go and at convenience, and most importantly audiences are willing to pay. With ease of entry, competition in this space will increase which is only healthy for the industry. The survivors will be the ones that have the right recipe combining content, technology and the team behind it.

 

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FICCI Frames 2020

[FICCI FAST TRACK COVERAGE] DIGITAL CONTENT REGULATION : LEARNING FROM BEST GLOBAL PRACTICES

Moderating the session ‘Digital content regulation: Learning from best global practices’ at FICCI’s Knowledge Series FAST TRACK DIGITAL, organised by FICCI and presenting partner, the Motion Picture Association, Ms. Vanita Kohli Khandekar, Contributing Editor – Business Standard, said in her opening remarks that while bringing OTT under the Ministry of Information & Broadcast is a perfectly logical and expected move, it is necessary to know what consequences the industry might expect from the change.

The panel agreed that there needs to be regulation, and that having clear guidelines in regulation is desirable to all. However, Mr. Ajay Chacko, Co- Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Arré, said that it was important to not regulate with the sole aim of establishing parity between two mediums – such as broadcast television vs VoD.

Mr. Tarun Katial, Chief Executive Officer, ZEE5 India, and co-chair for Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), said that the government has always encouraged the industry to come up with a self-regulation code and has also been supportive of content diversity. He added that 80-90% of the industry members have agreed to, and signed, the code. “I think we have to see the government in the light of the support it has given to this sector and let it flourish to this point”, he concluded. Mr. Karan Bedi, Chief Executive Officer – MX Player, agreed that the discussion has come a long way and it’s only a matter of time when it comes up with a standard accepted by all.

Mr. Gourav Rakshit, Chief Operating Officer, VOOT, said that the ability to narrowcast an audience allows the industry to provide content that is consistent, and the code takes the existing frameworks forward, not a step backwards. There is a need to centralise so that there is uniformity. Taking responsibility while telling impactful stories is very important.

Mr. Sanjeev Lamba, Executive Producer, Hungama Originals, pointed out that having an informed audience, free to make their own choices, was as important as establishing clear and consistent guidelines in self-regulation.

Mr. Vivan Sharan, Partner – Koan Advisory Group, said that the industry needs to ensure that the code doesn’t limit creative freedom, but furthers it. He added that while there is no question that minors need to be protected from harmful content online, when it comes to adults, the state needs to look at who the reasonable average person in India is and what will offend them. This should be done before creating a negative list of exceptions for everything that should be allowed for adults.

When asked if statutory approval for a self-regulation code make sense, Mr. Katial responded that the government needs to be satisfied that the self-regulation code the industry comes up with works, so that they won’t have to step in to regulate, argue in a court of law, or interfere in its implementation.

Ms. Vanita Kohli Khandekar concluded by saying that in the end what matters is quality content reaching audiences and the hope is that it continues to happen.

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FICCI Frames 2020

[FICCI FAST TRACK COVERAGE] DIGITAL INDIA COPYRIGHT ACT – REDEFINING THE FUTURE OF CREATIVE WORKS

Titled ‘Digital India Copyright Act – Redefining the Future of Creative Works’, the 2nd session of 5th Edition of FAST TRACK DIGITAL, organised by FICCI and presenting partner, the Motion Pictures Association (MPA), delved deep into the various aspects of the Copyright Act of 1957.

Moderating the session, Mr. Trevor Fernandes, Vice President, Govt. Affairs – Asia Pacific, MPA, emphasised the need to protect the intellectual property rights to highlight the importance of content protection. He also applauded the growth of the Indian market in recent decades, and was confident that the MPA’s effort in this space, would complement and have a positive impact the market.

On the topic of amendments in the Copyright Act of 1957, Mr. Fernandes said that while revisiting an Act that was last reviewed in 2012 was justified, he cautioned that 2020 was not the time to rush changes without very careful deliberation and policy calibration.

Mr. Ameet Datta, Partner – Sai Krishna Associates, saw room to improve enforcement against digital piracy and make enforcement more timely in the new global digital era. He praised the Delhi High Court for being innovative where site blocking is concerned, and he also applauded the MPA for taking a lead in helping the courts to develop their jurisprudence. He also made suggestions about how the industry and Government can collaborate so that resources are well spent for better solutions. More broadly he said that the Copyright Act could also include modalities to fight digital piracy.

Mr. Anil Lale, General Counsel, Viacom18, added that piracy needs to be tackled more stringently as it’s more than infringement, and hurts the creative economy a lot. Mr. Ritesh Khosla, Deputy General Counsel, Sony Pictures Networks India, agreed with the rest of the panel that piracy and copyright infringement are eroding revenues for all major industry players. He then drew attention to the need of defining piracy clearly in the Copyright Act, which is not currently the case. He urged that the government look at piracy as an economic offence.

Talking about the efforts of MPA and the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), Mr. Uday Singh, Managing Director, MPA India, said, “The MPA and ACE has been set up as an answer to this multi-jurisdictional and shape-shifting problem, where it tries to stimulate a legitimate marketing environment for our businesses and also to raise the cost for the pirate to do business and reduce the cost for our legitimate players. Multiple jurisdictions have tried to put voluntary measures in place and what we have been able to achieve with the Telegram Monitoring Project (TMP) is a very good step in that direction.”

Mr. Fernandes concluded the session by referring to one of MPA’s longstanding efforts in India – the clamp down on camcording content in cinemas, and what it means in this newly digitised entertainment world. Mr. Singh said, “The uphill battle continues. Last, we appeared before the parliamentary committee and the recommendations have already gone through. And though there will be Covid 19-related delays. In the end it is just a small provision in the Cinematograph Act which will hopefully cross the line in the parliamentary session now scheduled for January 2021.

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Industry

[FICCI FAST TRACK COVERAGE] Inaugural: The Role Of The Digital Economy To Revitalize Economic Growth

The inaugural session of the 5th Edition of FAST TRACK DIGITAL, organised by FICCI and presenting partner, the Motion Picture Association, was hosted virtually this morning, 25th November 2020. Moderated by Dr. Ashish Kulkarni, Founder, Punnaryug Artvision, the session sought to discuss how important a role the digital economy would play in revitalizing economic growth.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Ashish Kulkarni said that it is exciting to see how well the digital content economy has captured the imagination of the audience. Industry players, too, have been alert to these changes, which has led to a surge in VoD services and the content they offer. He also pointed out other areas where large growth has been observed, like the digital payment segment, sports, gaming, and the start-up ecosystem.

The welcome address was presented by Ms. Belinda Lui, President & Managing Director Asia Pacific, Motion Picture Association. Acknowledging how challenging this year has been in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms. Lui said that the entertainment industry at large is encouraged by the spirit, ingenuity, and community displayed by those in the digital sector worldwide. “It is the one sector that has led the charge in delivering the best possible experience,” she said.

Ms. Lui also said that the growth of the VoD sector in India highlights that audiences across the world are responding well to the content offering. “Audiences across the globe have developed a new appreciation for Indian stories and culture. The incredible dynamic culture led by the VoD industry has helped develop a very high standard of storytelling,” she added.

Addressing the issue of piracy, Ms. Lui said that though it is an affront to businesses all over the world, the MPA along with the Alliance for Creative Entertainment (ACE) will continue “to protect the copyright that protects all work through every form of distribution channel.”

Delivering the keynote, Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Prathiba M. Singh, Judge, Delhi High Court, said, “If media and content creators have to remain free and fair they ought to involve free and fair adjudicatory mechanisms, which are not coercive in nature.”

Elaborating further, Justice Singh said, “OTT and VoD platforms and other creative content providers should also be a part of this mechanism. Such a system would also protect and preserve the rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India by effectively providing for reasonable restrictions. This would also minimize the need for legislative and judicial interference in issues relating to content,” she added.

Commenting on the rise of VoD services in the country, Justice Singh said that while the pandemic brought everything to a standstill, it proved to be the silver lining for the VoD services that have seen an exponential rise in the last 6-8 months.

However, the challenges, said Justice Singh, for the VoD services, have just begun. “While there can be no specific solution to the issues currently being faced by the broadcasters in general and digital platforms in particular, I would comment that inspiration should be taken from other self-regulatory or independent redressal mechanisms, which can be used as models for OTT and VoD and broadcaster platforms in general,” she further added.

The session was concluded with a vote of thanks by FICCI’s Secretary General, Mr Dilip Chenoy.