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So You Want To Become A Filmmaker?


There are no cheat sheets, no magic formulae. Here’s a roadmap to follow when making your first film


The Blank Page – Starting Out. The idea. Too many people think first about the result rather than the idea behind the film and why they want to make it. Of course it’s ‘show business’ and not ‘show show’, and all parties involved in making a film expect to get paid and more, but at the end of the day, we have the privilege of being story tellers and that comes with its own challenges. We forget we are making a film and start making a ‘hit’ instead.

The (W)rite Team. Knowing that the story and screenplay form the spine of the film, filmmakers still tend to treat this aspect of the process in a ‘necessary evil’. Writers don’t get paid enough to be career writers and are often focusing on turning directors. The ones who do, need to do multiple projects to sustain any sort of life in this city. The result is a town full of great ideas and not enough people available to give them shape and form.

Show Me The Money. Getting a funder (studio or otherwise) is no cakewalk. Their parameters of safety extend across all aspects of your film-to-be. From the actor, to the director, to the story itself, everything is up for debate. It’s not uncommon to be asked to make a film which has only ‘proven’

elements and yet is something never seen before!

Everybody Is A Producer – Part 1. The relationship between a producer and director is supposed to be like that of spouses, and yet there are only a handful of directors you have today who are not already attached to a spouse / sibling / parent of their own! The number of freelance directors is negligible. Most directors are also producers and those who are not are aspiring to become one.

Everybody Is A Producer – Part 2. Perhaps being a producer is one of the most misunderstood professions in the industry. Ironic, because it is generally the producer who is the initiator of most projects and yet most actors that are marketable (read: okay by your funding partner) are also ‘producers’ i.e. in on the upside, far, far away on the down
Shooting Hell. In spite of being the second-largest producer of cinema in the world, we as a country are remarkably behind in any support from the government vis-a-vis facilities for shooting. Shooting stages are few, location permissions are a nightmare and everybody and their brother sees a shooting unit and wants to make a buck.

Most of your budget is spent above the line and the crew and shoot expenses become hand-to-mouth. The units are large, cumbersome and slow-moving. If you can afford to shoot on an international location, things do get better, but why is it that the same people change their efficiency and civic sense the moment they land on foreign shores?

Too Much Noise. Watching a film was the ultimate luxury. The darkness of the cinema halls transported you to another world and held you as you lived out your dreams and walked away engaged and entertained. Today we have multiple screen sizes to live out those dreams, and what’s more, you can do so without leaving your house!

Television has taken over daily entertainment and the Internet is not far behind, with telecom

players making connectivity more and more commonplace. As a wise friend once told me, ‘We’re no longer in a fight for just a share of the wallet, but more importantly, a share of the time people have to give.’ In this event, the marketing of a movie is somehow required to stand out amid this sensory overload and make your viewer leave everything and go to the cinema halls in order to enjoy your film in its truest form.

Programmers’ Rule. It is debatable if whether the number of films being made is a sign of a robust industry. One could argue that the number of successes would be the correct parameter. However, given the multiple releases every week are resulting in too few screens for people to show each movies, one must actually ensure that if your marketing has indeed inspired people to come to the cinema halls, they actually get a show that is convenient for them.

And yet there is no business like show business! Once your cross these speed-breakers and your film speaks to your audience, it’s smooth sailing all the way!

– Eight speed-breakers you have to overcome when you make a film, Shrishti Arya is a film and television producer

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