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Industry Insights: DROO PADHIAR

Droo has worked in UK film distribution for ten years across studio and world cinema titles in both Marketing and Publicity. She currently heads up Marketing for leading Documentary specialist Dogwoof across world sales and UK distribution. She has previously held roles within Theatrical Marketing at STUDIOCANAL and Peccadillo Pictures where she worked on award-winning titles across multiple genres including 2014’s Paddington and 2011’s British breakout-hit, Weekend.

Why do you think you are the UK & Global Marketing Manager for Dogwoof?

Quite simply, I love film, I love marketing, and I love documentaries. My first proper in-house distribution job was at a specialist distributor (Peccadillo Pictures) and I have always been drawn to niches who are innovative and companies who are cutting-edge. Having worked on marketing campaigns for arthouse and independent film in addition to studio level titles at STUDIOCANAL, it’s put me in a unique position to understand how to make films work on a shoe-string budget, and on a big one. I like the challenge of reaching the widest possible audience for any given title, and particularly for under-represented and female-led stories.

What’s your elevator pitch to describe the kind of films and/or filmmakers you like working with the most?

Imaginative, thought-provoking and original, and above all else, friendly. Some of the best film-makers I have worked with the past decade have been pioneers in their field, with multiple award-wins behind them, yet remained humble and down to earth. It’s a winning combination for a working relationship.

What is it about such material or teams that you find the most inspiring?

I work primarily on documentaries which is an exciting move having come from a predominantly fiction-narrative background. I love that there is a new challenge that comes with each release, and the various stories and subject matters covered in each release are all unique in their own right. No campaign is the same. One day, it’s a biopic of a famous rock star, the next day it’s about the rise of Satanism. It keeps it fresh and forces you to evolve, which is very important.

If forced to give one tip to new people coming through what would it be?

Work hard, be friendly, and know your worth. I would recommend starting out at a smaller company to gain an overview and trying your hand in all areas. Gain experience at big companies, mid-level, and small; that’s where you’ll truly find where you belong, what makes you happy, and what’s best for your career progression and your own well-being.

And what pitfall would you say is essential to avoid in your sector when starting out? (You can be general about film or specific to your area or both)

Be mindful of career progression and knowing limits of your environment. If a company doesn’t want you to grow or value your hard work, find one who will bring out the best in you and nurture your skillset. If you aren’t growing year-on-year and remaining stagnant in your role, be conscious to change it.

Tell us about where you come from or where you live now and how it filters into your work?

I was born and raised in South London and have recently moved back there after living in Hampstead for five years. Being in easy distance of Central London allowed me to get my foot in the door at Verve Pictures ten years ago which is how I got into the industry. I come from a family with a deep-rooted love of film and cinema. If it wasn’t for my parents’ support to go into the arts, I am not quite sure what I would be doing now. I come from an Indian background where film isn’t a primary occupation choice for people from my ethnic background, so having a family who loved and knew about film was a key factor to where I am now. To have got to where I am and represent the BAME community in this way – especially in UK distribution where there are very few South Asian AND female managers – makes me proud. This filters in to my work as it offers a different perspective to others’ opinion, and makes me a little more sensitive to stories about overcoming obstacles.

Tell us about the latest film / exhibition / book / public figure / article to have inspired you?

I’ve been completely hooked on Debbie Harry’s new book, titled ‘FACE IT’. Music is my other passion in life and as a long time admirer of Debbie Harry and Blondie, the memoir was such a fascinating insight into the life of a remarkably strong, beautiful and badass individual who has faced all sorts of adversity as a woman finding her feet in the entertainment industry.  She stood her ground and persevered – we need more cultural icons like Debbie Harry. Prior to this, Michelle Obama’s ‘BECOMING’ was another book I couldn’t put down. We’re lucky to have female leaders like these in the media.

What frustrates you about what you do?

Nothing frustrates me about my job.  Across Distribution in general, Marketing is a very deadline orientated position with multiple facets and responsibilities that come under that umbrella, so naturally it is a very busy, fast-paced position with a lot to do. You have to be on the ball, or you’ll find you fall behind. Regarding the industry as a whole, I do find it frustrating seeing that there is still a big gender imbalance of women at the top in executive roles. We’re quite lucky at Dogwoof to have a strong female, international and diverse workforce.

How do you overcome this?

Being realistic, keeping calm, and knowing what to prioritise. At the end of the day, things that need to get done, will get done.  If you love what you do, no task is an obstacle. Having a great and talented marketing team also helps, in addition to supportive and kind upper management. I always find it’s a danger when one person’s vision is driving a campaign. It’s got to be collaborative and a team effort, otherwise nothing will work. Keeping a positive atmosphere is crucial to me.

Do you believe in the ‘female gaze’ and what does that mean to you?

I would like to think we are able to get to a point one day where this isn’t a gaze identified by gender and women, men and non-binary people are identified equally and not segregated. Hollywood is making a concerted effort to move away from fetishizing women on screen, but there is still a long way to go. In saying that, I’m pleased to see an influx of female-focused stories from female film-makers. FLEABAG and THE HANDMAID’S TALE are both excellent examples of how the presence of The Female Gaze has proven the need for these kind of stories in society.

Parting shot – Why are programmes like FUTURE LEADERS IN DISTRIBUTION important to you and what does gender equality in film and society mean to you?

This course has been amazing. We’re not even half-way through and already the training and mentoring is helping my day-to-day. The women on the course are all extremely talented and lovely people and it’s refreshing to know a lot of us share similar experiences. Post #MeToo, things have got better in improving gender equality in the film industry, but there’s still a lot more to do, especially for BAME women. We’re still vastly underrepresented and this needs to change. Within Dogwoof, I am happy to say that we have a 100% female Marketing team, with 2/3rds of us from a BAME background. It’s a big step to a more inclusive and diverse future  and I can’t wait to see what the film industry looks like ten years from now.

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