Independent filmmaker Sandeep Mohan is releasing his film Hola Venky online on April 2. He writes exclusively for Hindustan Times about his struggle, film and his three-member crew. Here's how he made his film in just Rs 10 lakh.
1.For me,the most important thing is the Script. Script is the heart, the soul. I put my heart and soul and everything else into it, to make it feel 'alive'. If the heart stops beating, you die. If the script doesn't have a heart, the film dies. For me, everything else revolves around the script. I see and hear a lot of film folks talk more about "what camera are you using", "which software are using for color correction" etc. I feel all that can be taken care of, as long as the script has a heart. At the end of the day, people want to be told stories, unique stories that have not been seen or heard before. And if the story resonates for them, they won't care if one of your shot was out of focus or if you used or didn't use lights in the movie or all these things.
2. Getting more people to invest smaller amounts of money works great since the risk is much lesser for them, as well as for you. We had 36 donors who put money ranging from a a couple of lakhs to 500 rupees. This happened through the crowdfunding site indiegogo.com. It helps if you are a little shameless too while looking for money. Also, this works great for me as an indie filmmaker because I don't have one Single Producer sitting there interfering with my creative process. I get to take the creative call, and also design the film in a way that I want. There are enough good people in this world who are willing to support arts and good creative endeavors and I am thankful to all the friends and donors for their support.3. Never be scared to call yourself an artist. I see a lot of filmmakers say that they are in the business of filmmaking. That language, I feel, we should leave it to the Producers and the financiers and other people. As creators, we should respect ourselves and our creations and respect our art. As Artists, our job is to create with pure intention, and as business people, it is the job of Producers to take the film innovatively to more number of people and recover the costs. If both do their job in the best possible way without stepping on each other's shoes, then it is wonderul. But I find too many Producers not giving the freedom to the Director's to express themselves freely. And in fact, I find more directors offering their freedom on a platter to these Producers just to be able to make a movie....Personally speaking, I write, direct, travel and challenge myself as a human being and have no shame in calling myself as an artist. Yes, the world will make fun of you and your work, but then I don't bother about all that...What is there to be ashamed of!
4. The more we practice, the better you get at filmmaking. It is not an easy medium - to tell stories through films. Hence it is very important, at least for me to keep making movies every two years at least. After Love, Wrinkle-free which was my debut feature that released in 2012, I told my self that I won't wait too long before my next movie. I wrote a script for the money that I could raise, and went about making it at. For me, making films is important. I don't want to waste any more time of my life waiting for big producers to find me. If they have to find me, they will. Who knows how long we all are doing to be alive.
5. Most importantly, if you are clear about the reasons why you are making films, then things will easily fall in place.I made both my films - Love, Wrinkle-free and Hola Venky in a way that I am comfortable with. Both are in Indian English, are engaging and fun films, but definitely not "mainstream" in the conventional sense. In Producer's lingo, these are not 'mass' films. But I didn't become a filmmaker to make 'mass' films. I became a filmmaker to make films that will help me express and explore themes that trouble or interest me. And I make it engaging to reach out to a sizeable number of the urban niche, across the world. I am clear about that. So it is important to be clear why you want to make films. Is it just that momentary fame and money that you are craving for? Or is it something more pure? I have clarity in my mind, after years of being confused. I want to follow my heart, write scripts, raise whatever funds I can, and make movies within that limited budget. I feel happy this way. Isn't that the goal after all!
(Hola Venky is releasing online on VimeoPro and Fliqvine.com)