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When the founder of FOIOA replied...

(So I just gave an interesting title to this blog, praising myself only.)

We get a bunch of interesting queries month to month dropped on our e-mail and social media inbox. While most of them turn out to be from sponsorship firms and spam, a small portion of them are from individuals that seem to be interviewing us. For the first few moments while observing such questions, I feel being in some sort of a limelight and the very next second I laugh off thinking, “I didn’t create anything; I am just honoring artists with social media posts.”

Three years and counting, even though it hasn’t gained any measurable credibility or notability; I can’t bring FOI Online Awards to a null now. Reason being, what started as an individual’s judgement, is now a team of more than two dozen opinions; and the trust and love they show dedicating their time and support, cannot be brought to a dead end.

One evening, I was going through the replies I had sent through social media mailbox. The venture ended after some three hours, there was much I had replied in past two years; some sarcastic, some serious. Since I wasn’t doing anything for the next few hours, I decided I would write about it. As I started writing it, I thought, it’s going to be long-long-long essay, that I myself might lose interest at last stages, buried in exhaustion and being in front of screen for long. What I thought next was that I would share all those queries down below, and restrict my writing to three paragraphs only (this being the last). After all, contents on this page are being written for past two years.

(And yes, I remember punctuating and capitalizing those queries to be presentable. Also, I am keeping the senders anonymous. Also, before you are confused, these are the replies that the Founder and the current Interaction Manager gave out personally.)

29/01/2016: I went through 1st FOI Online Awards tweets. What exactly are you?

Reply: We are an award event, which gives their telecast on Twitter through tweets. Yes, it’s a bit weird. You can head to our website, for more information.

27/04/2016: Hello, we are from -------. We deal in trophies, plaques and medals. We have some exciting offers for your events.........

Reply: We started this venture with zero investment, if you exclude my Wi-Fi charges. I think rest of the reply is understood.

04/03/2017: I recently joined your Jury panel, but I came to know about it very late. Was it not constituted before?

Reply: Hello, welcome to the family. Yes, you guessed it right. We started expanding Jury panel from this year onward, after 2nd FOI Online Awards. Before this, we didn’t have a Procedural Constitution or an organisational hierarchy. We were just a group of friends, which is now reduced to just one after others got busy with their jobs.

09/03/2017: Have you ever been contacted for something in exchange of money or fame?

Reply: I don’t know whether I should tell this here, but I guess I can give away few of them, without naming them. Yes there have been such incidents, but nothing came in exchange for money. Most of them were for media coverage, followers, numbers etc. A media house requested half the nominations of 2nd FOI Online Awards, in exchange for news coverage. Film production houses of disaster movies have been frequently contacting us, without naming themselves from anonymous e-mail ids. I guess that’s all I can give out.

10/08/2017: Why don’t you try getting some backup from media house, your numbers are terrible?

Reply: The only strict policy we follow is that we don’t want to give any control of our creative decisions to moneymaking practices. We will surely take such help, if and only if we are absolutely sure of it.

12/12/2017: You just announced 3rd FOI Online Awards which again would be a bunch of online announcements. Why aren’t you considering organizing a live event?

Reply: Hello, what you suggested is far-far away from our initial goals. Firstly, we don’t want to give any control of our creative decisions to moneymaking practices, which a live event involving sponsors and media houses would require. We will surely take such help, if and only if we are absolutely sure of it. Secondly, it depends on what our credibility turns out to be in future.

29/12/2017: Is there any post of graphic designer available?

Reply: We’ve been doing our graphics on a very low scale and Windows Paint. A professional help is not affordable.

07/01/2018: What investment did you venture to setup your format?

Reply: Honestly, just a laptop and an internet connection. I mean we are just a social media account. But yes, Website cost us few thousands of rupees each year. Also, we reward our Research Assistants twice a year, so yeah there are some managerial expenses, but nothing more.

20/01/2018: Your 3rd FOI Online Award winners are very happy with your event, most of winners responded to it. Has there been a backlash moment?

Reply: Most of them didn’t reply till the 2nd edition, but we understand and were ready for it. The 3rd edition was a great turnout, we had 10000+ votes polled and we saw the filmmakers campaigning for it too. Not exactly a backlash, but we remember during the very first edition, Richa Chaddha declined her nomination for the film Masaan in Supporting Actress category. We didn’t understand the reason, it was our very first edition, we were fans and not professionals and we thought we had done something terribly wrong. We respected her decision, took her off the nomination list, but eventually the jury decided to a name her performance worth a Special Jury Mention. Anyway, she blocked us on Twitter, but I still find her performances very good.

22/02/2018: Does your format follow opinion of any film critic?

Reply: No, there is no such provision. What we have on our panel are a bunch of film enthusiasts from the regular audience, and they are independent to decide their source of taste and suggestions. For me personally, I love the team of reviewers at Film Companion. I also find the page Screengobblr very interesting.

25/02/2018: Why is your whole team anonymous?

Reply: We have a foundation policy where we decided that no one’s association with FOI Online Awards would be visible to public. The very prime reason for this is due to the presence of hundreds of star fan clubs that might try to influence the panel members. It’s not completely effective, we have problems of formulating and circulating discussions around, but it has been good till now. Additionally, it adds an element of suspense to it.

27/03/2018: What’s the one irritating thing about your format you dislike and regret you can’t change?

Reply: The name! It’s too many syllables to pronounce and the word Online sounds awkward.

01/05/2018: Pick worst and best edition in your view.

Reply: (Personally), best has to be 3rd, rest were equally bad.

14/06/2018: Any special criteria of choosing jury members?

Reply: Nothing in particular. We give preference to film bloggers, and avoid fan club accounts. Screening applications is a tough job.

20/06/2018: Why did you choose bringing digital movies on board the procedures of 4th FOI Online Awards?

Reply: They are part of the league, people are watching it, and digital platforms have some great content. So why not?

21/07/2018: Who are you?

Reply: I am not allowed to; we are supposed to be anonymous... for a hint... I am a silent group member of Film Companion Film Club.

23/09/2018: Do you write blogs on FOI Editorials? What other blogs you like?

Reply: None of the FOI Editorials’ blog was authored by me; I just review them, before they were published. We have an open link where we allow anyone to send and publish blogs through FOI Editorials. We get many entries but sadly most of them are fan based promotion or copied. No particular blog, I appreciate there are so many film bloggers, who have excellent observations and concepts. I really like Screengobblr reviews. I just started reading a bunch of articles on a Facebook page, named Third Vantage Point, I personally loved them.

26/09/2018: Why you bring in Special Guest voters on your panel, when you have a permanent panel?

Reply: Honestly, it was a promotional thing at first, where we tried involving more audience. But after the first experiment, we found it a right decision, and decided to make it a permanent thing. It’s good bringing in different opinions.

08/10/2018: A film critics you like or follow?

Reply: I would be talking about me personally; it doesn’t reflect the whole panel. Anupama Chopra.

10/10/2018: Do you have some loyal followers?

Reply: Few of our Research Assistants, though most of them left midway. We also see a bunch of accounts always promoting/appreciating us somewhere or the other. Thanks to them.

14/10/2018: Why don’t you tell your story, on how you thought of this somewhere...?

Reply: I dedicate the whole article to your question. :)

It has been a good experience answering these queries, keep them coming.

Signing off...


FOI Online Awards

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