The Story Ink: Scripting New Success Stories

From Books-To-Screen 

Sidharth Jain’s The Story Ink boasts of over 75 book to screen adaptation deals in just one year! What makes a book attractive enough to be adapted to screen, finds out Emma House of Oreham Group in conversation with Sidharth.

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Sidharth Jain founded India’s first story company – The Story Ink & in a span of 12 months, became India’s leading book to screen company, with over 75 book to screen adaptation deals. The Story Ink is also co-producing more than 20 projects based on books.

He has worked as a producer in Hollywood & Bollywood. A serial entrepreneur, he founded the world’s first online auction portal for original Bollywood Memorabilia – BollywoodAuction. com (subsequently acquired by Baazee.com which is now Ebay India). He also produced India’s first 5-country coproduction international film – Marigold at Hyperion Studio (Los Angeles) and has worked as a Development Producer at Adlabs Films. He also founded India’s first script development company – IRock Films and produced India’s first found footage horror film – Ragini MMS – and also worked at Hotstar.com. He speaks at 15+ forums a year, hosts a monthly talk series at Soho House Mumbai, and is a TEDx Speaker.

Here, Sidharth shares more about The Story Ink in conversation with Emma House of Oreham Group.

The genesis of The Story Ink…

“I started The Story Ink in April 2018. My instinct was telling me that as the streaming will push the pedal on original content, there will be large demand for stories, and since I had spent more than 10 years as a Development Producer, I thought it would an ideal time to start India’s first story company,” tells Sidharth.

Services offered…

“We are a story company. A company that solves the story problem for the industry at large. We think like producers and almost 80% of our revenue comes from content consulting, being a development producer and in almost 20+ projects, we are active co-producers where we take on the task of creatively driving the project towards greenlight and financing,” he shares.

The clientele…

“With authors, publishers and lit agents, we work on a success fee basis. Though, I must confess, we prefer to work more with authors, since they are most excited and passionate about their stories. We also work as consultants to producers, filmmakers and studios,” adds Sidharth.

Screen world – then and now…

The landscape has changed tremendously over the last couple of years in the screen content world. “It’s like a new world now. The premium screen content market in India, which used to be dominated by theatrical films, is now heavily competing with the streaming companies for stories and talent. This is the best phase that I have witnessed in the last 20 years.

The best time for creators. The best time for storytellers. But one needs to keep in mind the fact that, 90% of the resources will go to the top 10% players, which means the key strategy for success will be – Collaboration,” tells Sidharth.

Trends in screen content…

“The market started with a mad scramble and now it is stabilising. Curating for specific content strategy is the need of the hour and that is exactly what we focus on. We do not think like a broker or an agent. We think like producers and creators and that is the reason why our unique number of ‘projects based on book’ transactions are 50-60 in a year,” tells Sidharth.

“Since most demand comes from streaming companies, high concept ideas with engaging plots get all the attention. Staple genres like thriller, crime, mystery, suspense and real stories get most traction. But a good-for-screen story will always be genre-agnostic and will find a producer. Indian audiences are wonderful and very forgiving.

They love watching entertaining content that’s value for their money and time,” he adds.

Why The Story Ink…

With so much written content out there, how can you and producers sift through it all to decide what will be suitable for the screen? “This is exactly why The Story Ink exists. We do the curating and our producer specific recommendation strategy makes it easy for a producer to find what they need,” replies Sidharth.

So, do Indian producers prefer working with already published content or do they prefer original scripted? “Well, it is both. What matters is the story. A 300-page detailed story in the form of a book helps, but screen writing is a different animal and book adaptation is not an easy task,” tells Sidharth.

Tips on how to make your book attractive for screen adaptation…

On asking about what advice Sidharth would like to give to an author, publisher or agent who think they have a good story that would work as an adaptation, he replies, “Think of a terrific title, write a compelling half page synopsis and craft a compelling plot summary in 2-3 pages. A terrific book cover adds to the package.”

Few successful adaptations so far …

“Books by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Anand Neelakantan, Arjun Raj Gaind, Ankush Saikia, Madhulika Liddle, Shweta Taneja amongst others are the ones that I am looking forward to watching on a screen,” concludes Sidharth.

Emma House is an international publishing consultant based in the UK. Her previous roles included Deputy CEO of the Publishers Association UK and Head of International Development at the London Book Fair.

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