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.
I had produced my own film Parzania and even distributed it because I didn’t find a producer who shared my vision. It is very important that the vision of the producer and directors is in sync. There are two reasons a director turns producer: one is when you know that a producer will not be able to help you achieve your dream creatively; and two, when you want to make more money. I turned producer for the first reason.
Also I believe that unless you’re really confident of executing every aspect of a producer’s role, you should not take the plunge or it becomes hard to survive. Maybe that’s why you only see a few of them surviving like Dharma Productions, Yash Raj Films and Excel Entertainment. I cannot comment on Dharma or YRF but I can say with confidence that if you have producers like Excel, you don’t need to turn producer yourself. They take care of production and assign the best crew possible.
Riteish Sidhwani is a hardcore producer who perfectly balances budget and quality. Farhan (Akhtar), on the other hand, is a creative guy who gives you immense support. Also, neither gets in the way of the filmmaking process. A producer’s work is not only about money; there’s a whole lot more to it.
Finances are now easy to raise. Moreover, when you produce your own film, you don’t let creativity suffer. You can shoot a song the way you want to and you can eliminate elements according to your own judgement. Earlier, raising money to make a film was tough, and you needed to be a successful director and get big actors on board to get a producer. Now, corporate houses have made things so much easier. They don’t even invest their own money. That’s why, if a film doesn’t work, you hear a second announcement because they don’t really suffer the loss.
Earlier, people like Indra Kumar, Yash Chopra or Subhash Ghai used to invest their own money to make a film, which is why if one project didn’t succeed, they would take years to make another. Everyone is looking to make a fast buck these days.
The benefit of producing or co-producing your own film is you don’t need to tell anyone why you are shooting a certain scene in a certain way. Today, with corporates in the picture, finances have become easier so you have someone financing for your film and you only look at the creative aspect but only if you have a fussy producer. I have worked with some of the finest producers who take care of production and I focus only on direction. They are so well trained that they even coordinate the actor’s time of arrival on the sets. All I have to do is go on the sets and call the shots.
Today, there are a lot of opportunities thanks to corporate houses and it is less risky if your film doesn’t do great business. You work on the recovery of costs in advance. After working in the industry for so long, I have decided to produce films only because there are stories which I want to tell but don’t have the time to do them all. So maybe some other director can give them shape.
Nowadays, there are many avenues to source money to fund a film due to corporate studios. You often benefit as a producer, and you do make money when you produce a film. When you produce your own film, you enjoy creative freedom, so you know how to spend your money. It’s a better balance between budgets and creativity.
Most directors who turn producer these days have experienced success with a few films. And the main reason they do so is because production gives them the creative freedom to make their kind of films. Once a director turns producer, he/she can even share the profit that the film makes and that is another reason more and more newbies are turning to production.
Today, filmmaking is more about making money. That’s why new directors are turning producer. It’s become relatively easy to assemble finances thanks to corporate studios. Directors like Ram Gopal Varma have turned to production because they were passionate about filmmaking but, nowadays, it’s all about earning quick money. The corporate structure of financing a film is such that as a co-producer, you get a share of the profits.
I am not happy with the trend. It’s like assuming one can direct a film after assisting on a couple of films. Today, producing a film has become all about making money and creativity has taken a back seat. If you are a hit director, just one hit film will get you a volley of corporates knocking on your doors to finance your films, even as a producer. When a novice director decides to turn producer, he or she has half- baked ideas, and both creativity and production values suffer. They can’t direct properly either because they just don’t have enough experience. Also, they are not equipped to handle the commercial aspect of filmmaking. Thus, both aspects suffer.
I think it’s a very good trend. When a director turns a producer, they invest their money in a film and their faith in a new director. That way, they keep an eye on budgets and wrap their shoot on time. These days, the rate of success for films is so low that it’s a good thing that people who understand the craft turn producer.
It’s one thing to produce and quite another to direct. These are two completely different job profiles and they require separate skill sets. These days, even actors are taking to production, and if everyone wants to become a film producer, who would do the job of production? When a director turns producer, they don’t really invest their money in the project. It’s the studio that is financing the film. They become producers by merely lending their name to the project. Usually, quality suffers. Sure, it helps the film grab some eyeballs but I believe a director should earn a solid reputation and experience in direction before jumping the gun.
I see it as a healthy trend because when a director turns producer, they keep the cost of production under control. The film gains a lot of traction because a certain director who has delivered a hit decides to turn producer. That adds value to the film.
As far as exhibitors are concerned, it doesn’t matter if a director turns producer after one or two films. There is always more speculation and interest among the audience for a film which is produced by a reputed director like Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Karan Johar, rather than newbie directors. But if you look at the bigger picture, most directors, like Remo D’Souza, are household names because of their stint on TV too. When directors like these turn producer, it’s more to do with them trying to reap better profits and also maintain creative control over quality of the film.