'We make the best films when we don't worry about the money'
A movie may have a script as its starting point but there’s no denying that it’s the money(or the purveyor of it, the producer) that decides a film’s fate. Often the script remains just that and the film doesn’t even hit the floors. In a bid to decode the dynamics behind funding films, HitList spoke to some filmmakers about film financing today and how difficult it is to see a film take shape right from scripting to its release.
Last film made: 'Kal: Yesterday and Tomorrow' (2005)
filmmaker’s take: “Today, the market is flush with funds. As a filmmaker, one needs an impressive concept that would set you apart from the crowd. Of course, one needs the skills to sell it to producers or the studio. Cinema is indeed a profitable business. It’s not like a lot of people are losing money. Also, much of this change has to be attributed to the audience who are willing to watch a film that may not adhere to preconceived notions about how a film should or shouldn’t be.”
Current status: An untitled film, to be produced by Dharma Productions, is in the pipeline along with the animation feature, Hanuman 3.
Last film made: 'Inkaar' (2013)
Filmmaker’s take: “The way I see it, a film with a distinct identity will find it difficult to raise money. If the film lacks clichéd punchlines and formulaic plots, the producers and studios will be overcautious. That’s how it is and fledging directors should take this in their stride. Even Martin Scorsese struggled to make Goodfellas, so where does that leave us? In that case, the studios insisted on roping in Robert De Niro in what turned out to be a classic.”
Current status: Although he’s unwilling to talk about his next film, Mehrunissa, buzz is that the project is facing budget constraints.
Last film made: 'Rice Plate in Dus Kahaniyaan' (2007)
Filmmaker’s take: “Sourcing money is a problem for most films. However, the situation is better today with several filmmakers ready to test their potential. My real concern is budgetary but it has less to do with making a film and more with releasing it. In our industry, about 30 percent of the film’s budget is allotted to its promotions.”
Current status: His debut feature film as a director will be a romance drama and shooting for it will begin by the end of 2014.
Last film made: 'Stanley Ka Dabba' (2009)
Filmmaker’s take: “I believe that we make the best films when we don’t worry about the money we put in or the money we make from it. Having said that, my aim is to grab eyeballs by making movies with a soul. I acted in Bheja Fry and Phas Gaya Re Obama so I could raise funds for my film, Stanley Ka Dabba. But there’s an upside and a downside to such an approach. Do you want to be the artist who paints only when an exhibition date and venue is fixed or do you want to do your job either way — that is the bottomline.”
Current status: His second film as a director, Hawaa Hawaai, will hit the marquee on April 18.
Last film made: 'Peddlers' (2012)
Filmmaker’s take: “If I have some wealthy friends in the USA, say someone working in Silicon Valley, I would ask them to fund my project. As a filmmaker, it’s better to have your options open. There has been a positive change in the field of filmmaking today. Opportunities are there for those who can pitch good ideas. Studios are willing to listen to you. The nitty-gritties of film production is a different ballgame though.”
Current status: Although Peddlers hasn’t officially released yet, Vasan has already started working on his next feature film.
Last film made: 'Fatso!' (2012)
Filmmaker’s take: “Earlier there was a phase when it was difficult to make a film, but that’s not the case anymore. Today, anybody can make a film. The budget depends on the filmmaker’s business ethics and how streetsmart he is. The big hurdle these days is to get your film released across scores of cinema halls. Conventional wisdom dictates that the film has to be a hit anyhow. In such a scenario, what matters is a filmmaker’s belief system and his rapport with the producers in question.”
Current status: His upcoming directorial venture, Ankhon Dekhi, is set to release on March 21.
Latest release: 'Prague' (2013)
Filmmaker’s take: “I think that producing a film and releasing it are both fraught with challenges. Prague ran into trouble because we overshot our budget. But we couldn’t give up on it either. Having faith in your film helps a lot. Once you’ve made a film, certification can be an issue. Big budget films have it easy while smaller and medium-budget films face unnecessary delays.”
Current status: Khaitan is working on a script for a film that is slated to release in 2015.