Amshan Kumar at KNIFF 2018

We do not see much independent films outside festivals. Ever thought why? It is because the production and marketing of an independent film faces challenges of unforeseen nature. The Kazhcha-Niv Indie Film Festival (KNIFF) 2018 brought together filmmakers from different parts of the country to discuss on ‘Production and Marketing Challenges in Independent Cinema’.

Among the invitees were young filmmaker from Meghalaya Dominic Megam Sangma, National Award-winning director Amshan Kumar, Kathputli director Sil Ritesh and creative producer, scriptwriter and poet Sanjay Wadhwa.

Dominic Megam Sangma remembered how his producer was a lady from China who came onboard because she was interested in the project. Like most filmmakers, he too made the film first and then realised the difficulty of finding a platform to take his film to the public. It is all the more difficult for the independent filmmakers, he says.

When Amshan Kumar was asked about his idea on the independent cinema, he said that he was comfortable with the terminology ‘parallel cinema’. He traced the evolution of production methods like those through studios, independent producers and then the advent of the digital age. However, he observed that in the case of distribution, not much has changed. The advent of Doordarshan or satellite communication or multiplexes did not help parallel cinema. “We have to find our own marketing outlets,” Kumar said.

Sil Ritesh also shed light on the difficulties faced by independent movie makers. When the filmmakers approach producers, they demand known faces as actors in the film; the well-known actors, when approached, demand for good producers in turn. Thus, he says, it’s a challenge to pool resources for your film. “Maybe people will like our films but we are struggling to take it to them,” he shared.

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Sangma further spoke on how important it is to concentrate on the resources a filmmaker has access to. As an example, he recounted his personal experience of filmmaking, where his family members and friends were cast as artistes. He also pointed out how independent filmmakers can help each other with whatsoever resources they have.

Sanjay Wadhwa spoke on how, nowadays, there is a shift as big production houses are also venturing into independent filmmaking. He also observed that film festivals are always the plan A or the first avenue for independent filmmakers.

On making films reach the audience, everyone agreed that there should be support from powerful people in terms of money and popularity. Sangma said the filmmaker also becomes the salesman for his film and shared his plan to take the films to villages and host screenings. Whatever they want to give for the film, let them, he said.

Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, organiser of KNIFF, joined the discussion and spoke about lending films made by him at rates as low as Rs1000 per week. Quoting veteran filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, he said, “We have to make our audiences before we make our films.” He also added how Kazhcha Film Forum is ready to screen movies throughout the country if right people are willing to collaborate. Sachin Chatte too added to the discussion by giving the example of how Konkani films are screened regularly in Goa and the film also earn decent amounts.

The session concluded with everyone agreeing that the common people should be given a taste of these films for them to know how good the films are.

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