After studying Economics, Gausul Alam Shaon studied Branding and Promotion as his post-graduation degree in Delhi. He came back to Dhaka and started producing television commercials (TVC). Shaon's strategy is to study the 'collective unconscious of people in order to understand the hidden truths of people's desires'. Star Showbiz recently caught up with him for an interview.
How did you begin working with TVCs?
It was an accidental beginning for me. I did not think that I will have my post graduation in Branding and Promotion because I completed my graduation in Economics. It was not popular at that time. When I came back in Dhaka and I started working here during the year 2000, I realized many things can be done here. Luckily, I am working before and behind the camera now and the viewers have accepted me well.
What was your first work as a producer?
I started working in this sector in Delhi in a company called Rediffusion DY&R Pvt Ltd. When I came back to Dhaka, I started working in Unitrend Bangladesh. Later on, I joined Asiatic 360 as a Plan and Creative Director. Besides, I worked with Nestle Bangladesh and I am presently working with Grey Advertising Bangladesh Ltd. At first, I produced Tisha's debut television commercial of Coke jingling 'Eklai Khaiba, Amare Diba Na?'.
Who are your favorite TVC producers?
Sir John Hegarty, Tor Myron and Taproot are to be mentioned but few among my favorite TVC makers. Besides, I like the work of Tanvir and Dr. Asif's work in Bangladesh.
You have appeared before the camera in a few TVC's. How does it feel to act in what you are producing?
Actually, I am not an actor. I like working behind the camera. I work in the conceptualization and idea development. Working before the camera is refreshing for me, a shift from the humdrums of regular work. I work in other sections too, such as in script writing.
What is your overall strategy to making advertisements?
To me, an advertisement is communication presented in a funny manner but it has seriousness within. There is nothing in it without motive. Everything is put together with craftsmanship so that it can promote the message of the product. Although, it is different from fiction work or commercial productions, it needs a proper focus on the message which is needs to deliver. Making of it depends much on the way a producer grows up and understands his surroundings. I think, one needs to understand the 'collective unconscious' of people in order to communicate with them through advertisement. Advertisement cannot work in their conscious mind and it needs to be embedded in their unconscious or subconscious mind.
Bangladeshi television commercials are full of songs and dances. Why is this so?
That was the case earlier but things have changed a lot. Many talented people are working here now. We have experienced a change in themes and structures. From my experience, I can say that we are introducing newer strategies and techniques which can relate to people.
What are the challenges of working in Bangladesh?
There are lots of problem here, frankly speaking, and yet there are lots of possibilities. I think the advertisement sector has not grown enough in our country. In fact, it is quite a new idea in Bangladesh which is adopted from the west. It is yet to flourish like an industry. In the west or even in our neighboring countries, the advertisement sector flourished after movie making. Consequently, the advertisement could use the technical help of movies like manpower working behind the camera, crew and others. It is a fact that we still lack skilled cameraperson. Besides, there are no learning institutes here.
What can be done to solve the problem?
I cannot exactly say what needs to be done. I think we need an institute in order to train up young learners. The situation can be changed if we can solve the technical problems. Skilled manpower in this sector is required and it is very positive that young people are showing interest in this sector.
Aren't most of these problems also evident in our movies?
Yes, I think our movies need skilled manpower and technical support. Without these things, the crew and actors cannot create good productions. I would be controversial but I think the Indian movies should be shown in our movie theatres. We can grow competition and, I think, through these competitions we can improve our skills. I think it is not wise to ban Indian movies in our country.
What would be your advice to people who intend to work in this sector?
I will suggest them to understanding their surroundings. Productions depend much on how a person understands his culture and people's expectation towards him. I think the rural areas represent the true Bangladesh. One needs to go to the rural areas and explore the landscapes, people's living standards, their life and expectation in order to reach their mind. One very important thing is to read peoples mind - 'unconscious mind'- to communicate with them.