Movies today have bigger budgets than ever before in history. But once in a blue moon, an indie film, made on a shoe string budget, surprises everyone. Recently, Ee Rojullo, a Telugu film made on a budget of Rs 60 lakhs, went on to become a big hit. We asked Sreenivas, the producer of the film, to show us the ropes
The content is the king and it’s all the more true for indie films. “It is better if filmmakers have a target audience in mind before making a low budget film,” says Sreenivas, the producer of Ee Rojullo. Your script will define every aspect of how your film is going to be made. The shift from making short film to feature films can be quite tricky to handle. “One of the challenges for indie filmmakers is to retain the novelty factor in their films. A lot of short films are impressive, but the challenge is to retain the essence when it’s made into a feature film.” Sreenivas says. Films like Chitram, Happy Days, Love Failure and Ee Rojullu appealed to a specific set of audience and thanks to the positive word of mouth people came in droves later on. You should never stop dreaming big, but you can’t forget that your resources are quite limited while making an indie film.
Your film’s budget can make or break your film. In the Telugu film industry, most small budgets stick to ` 2-3 crores; however, most of them fail to recover the costs. Since your script dictates what budget you might need, it’s best to stick to stories which don’t require too many working days or outdoor shooting schedules. A lot of filmmakers allocate as much as 60% of a film’s budget as remunerations of cast and crew, especially if it’s a big budget film. For an indie film, it’s important to spend more on actual production of the film than remuneration. Always think about the return on investment.
Planning every aspect of the production to the last detail will come in handy if you have a tight budget. A film can be shot in 40 or maybe 50 days, unless of course you are planning to build massive sets or include big scale action sequences. Another important thing is rehearsals. “Most indie films have newcomers as lead actors. It’ll help a lot if they knew exactly what to do before coming to the location and that’s why rehearsals are so important,” Sreenivas says. Time is a precious commodity for filmmakers. You really wouldn’t want to scamper at the last minute to get things done. Having a bound script, shooting script and storyboard of the entire film might be extremely handy, although not many filmmakers do that in India. But then, an indie film gives you the freedom to experiment and do things which most others consider futile.
If you aren’t shooting a film within the confines of your home or neighbourhood, it requires a lot of permissions from authorities, which in turn increase your budgets. A good way to tackle this issue is to tie-up with firms and other brands.
“For Ee Rojullo we tied up with a construction company and also a college so that we could shoot in their premises for free. You have got to think about it in terms of film branding as well which can help in cutting down costs,” Sreenivas reveals. It’s okay to use your contacts as much as possible to help you in the production of your film.
The advent of digital cameras has made it possible to cut down on a lot of costs. Invest in a good camera and lenses, instead of hiring lots of equipment on a daily basis. “We also built a lot of equipment like trolleys, battery powered lights for Ee Rojullo,” Sreenivas recollects. A big production has more than 200 people on the set all the time and when it comes to a song, sometimes the number can go as high as 2000. Chaos is inevitable on a film set and the more you plan beforehand, the more you’ll succeed to direct your energy into the actual making of the film. Post production also requires a lot of money, but if you can edit your films on your own, it’ll do a whole lot of good for you. Some of the best directors in the world began their careers as editors and it’s extremely important to get the editing right.
A good film also needs good publicity, but there’s a price attached to it. Usually, filmmakers depend on TV, newspapers and outdoor campaigns to generate buzz. If you still have money left to go all out to promote your film, then that’s great. But you can count on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and also a website dedicated to your film to garner attention on the internet. These days making a good film is just the beginning of a long journey before it can release in theatres. Getting good number of theatres and the right time slot is also very important for the success of a film.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Hemanth writes primarily about Telugu cinema, although he finds inspiration from the works of filmmakers like Woody Allen. Apart from writing, he spends most of his time on Twitter discussing about cinema, travel and life in Hyderabad.