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Independent films need viable business model: Konkona Sen Sharma

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Actor-turned-director Konkona Sen Sharma said though she feels at home in the space of independent cinema, it is difficult for her style of filmmaking to succeed without alternative marketing strategy.

The 37-year-old filmmaker, who presented her directorial debut “A Death in the Gunj” at this years Dharamshala International Film Festival, said small budget independent films need to work out a viable business model so that they continue to be made in future.

"I think I would be comfortable in this zone. I dont see myself making something big in that sense. I’d like it to be small, but I’d like it to be worthwhile for the people who are putting so much effort (giving their time to a film like this) at one time. It is after that when you’re going in for distribution and PR that it begins,” Konkana stated. "How can you compete with films which have so much budget? And its done through songs, thats the format. You have to come out with a song to reach out to people. So we have to find other ways to advertise a film without songs," Sensharma said.

She was speaking at The State of Independents panel discussion at the sixth edition of DIFF yesterday. The director said she did not expect anyone to finance her film.

Sensharma said she visited a lot of studios to tick them off her list. She said they eventually refused to fund the script, despite appreciating it. "Even while developing the script, I never thought it will get made because I know the world we live in. We know what gets money what doesn’t. Its always been like this. I didn’t think anyone will give me money. So that kind of freed me to do whatever I wanted to do,” she continued.

"Independent is, I guess, alternative kind of content. Filmmking is a particular space with certain conventions. If you dont follow that, you dont get any funding. That it got funds, I guess I got fortunate as it was easy for me to put foot in the doors and get a meeting with producers as I was a well-known actor. So I was privileged to get my film made. I was lucky to come across some people who agreed to give me some money," she added.

Other directors present on the panel were Bornila Chatterjee, Puloma and Maheen Mirza from Ektara Collective, Rima Das, Pushpendra Singh and Karma Takapa. The indie filmmakers were in conversation with ‘The Hungry’ co-screenplay writer Tanaji Dasgupta along with actor Sayani Gupta.

While Das reiterated that she worked on her critically- acclaimed ‘Village Rockstars’, which closed the DIFF, all on her own and after having a tough time to find finances, so "with anger within", she decided to self-fund the movie. Takapa, who presented his Nepali language film based in Sikkim ‘Ralang Road’, said, "I think smaller budgets are easier to control and I would prefer that. For me, the process goes backwards. You don’t write what you cant afford."

Maheen said that when one thinks that a film should be independent, it is also necessary that it should belong. "It has to belong to the people who watch it, irrespective of the audience it is meant for and especially to the people who made it. It’s important for us not to go away from them."

Puloma, however, said introducing indie films as low- budget ones is a worrying trend. Singh, director of ‘Ashwatthama’, said he went ahead as he wanted to make a film, irrespective of the baggage that comes with being an FTII graduate.

An award-winning Filipino filmmaker told him that he worked with three-four people who multitask. "He said he wanted to tell his story, no matter the medium to do that. That really motivated me. I work with smaller crews, who are often amateurs, and within a controlled budget."

Bornila said the cast and crew of ‘The Hungry’ were perhaps lucky as they received a grant to make their film.

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