To make a really quick buck, newbie directors are becoming producers. How does this impact cinema and the industry?
Nurturing new talent is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is in fact a noble act. Especially if you are a director and strive to hone the talent of another new filmmaker.In the past, directors like Subhash Ghai and Ram Gopal Varma, and more recently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, donned the producer’s hat to give new directors a platform. But it took them more than a decade before they took the plunge into producing and mentoring. For them filmmaking is more than just commerce. It is an artistic process.
However, the new breed of directors is not willing to wait. In these days of quick money, it seems everyone is looking to try new things as soon as possible. That’s why, after delivering a couple of films or hits, directors believe they are ready to turn producer. These would include talents like Anand L Rai, Remo D’Souza, Neeraj Pandey, Shoojit Sircar, Dibakar Banerjee, Ajay Bahl, Abhinay Deo, Anubhav Sinha and Bejoy Nambiar.
There’s a twist that’s facilitating this trend. Unlike earlier, where finding a producer to invest in one’s film was a Herculean task, it’s now fairly easy. With foreign studios throwing their hats into the ring, funding is hardly an issue any more. More than just creative satisfaction, directors are looking at grabbing an extra share of the profits by turning to film production. Moreover, thanks to corporate studios taking care of the economics, most directors-turned-producers do little more than lend their name to a film. Industry experts claim they are barely investing any money but their names help create a buzz for a film, which in turn helps sell the product.
This week, we analyse this trend and ask industry experts whether it is here to stay. We also ask them whether this trend is beneficial to cinema.
When you have your own banner, you can make a film exactly as you please because you are not answerable to anyone. And you can risk pumping in more money, if you need to. When I say I became a producer, it’s not like the entire Rs 100 crore comes to my production house. People assume it’s more profitable to become a producer. It’s actually riskier because your money is at stake. But the best part is you’re not answerable to anyone. I think the whole equation of sales has changed and it’s not that you need to invest your own money. There are corporate houses and it becomes easier.
The new generation lacks patience and is only looking to make a quick buck. We used to make films because it was our passion. ‘Hit or flop’ came later. Today, producers need to look very closely at production values. It’s very risky and you only learn that over a period of time. At Mukta Arts, we have an entire team that looks after production so that I can concentrate on direction alone. At any given time, I wear either the director’s hat or the producer’s hat. I wouldn’t advise anyone to wear both at the same time.
Directors are turning producer these days because finances have become easier to raise. But that doesn’t mean everyone can be successful at it because unless you are the best at your work and you know you can lead a team, one should not take a risk. On the face of it, it might sound like a producer’s job is to only invest money in the production. The truth is, there is a lot more involved including managing actors and their dates, managing the crew, the sets and so on. One simply has to be able to multi-task. Today directors are tempted to become producers because they want a share of the profits and financers are ready to pump in money even they know only 30 per cent of the craft. There are many examples but has anyone taken a look at how many have survived as producers?
It is difficult to define the job profile of a producer. Earlier, producers used to design a project, start from signing an actor to finding locations. All that changed, especially when corporate studios entered the game. Now there is a team that looks after every department and it’s made things a lot easier. That’s why we see many directors turning producer. With financing becoming easier, all you have to do is make sure you turn out a good project. Recovery then takes care of itself. But I still believe that one should don the producer’s mantle only if you are really good at it because producing a film also demands plenty of creativity. Moreover, a director has to have a very clear mind when he calls the shots on the sets. He shouldn’t have to also think about the budget and other factors. But there are many who can multi-task but that’s possible when you have the best team to look after the rest of the craft. It’s easy to turn producer but it’s very difficult to survive as a producer.
It’s a good development that directors are becoming producers. With corporates coming into the industry, financing a film has become easy. Once the money is taken care of, the producer can concentrate on the creative aspects of a project. There is no hassle in terms of project design because you know that a financer will take care of the monies while you focus on the film. Production is not merely about managing accounts; it’s a very interesting part of filmmaking. There are so many scripts that might not be apt for you to direct but you want to be part of those films. Thus, it gives a new director a chance to work under you and that serves your purpose. You only have to take care of one thing at a time.