[Want more inside stories on independent filmmakers and their trysts with crowdfunding? Check out Part I exploring Proposition for a Revolution’s journey, and stay tuned for Part III!]
After digging deeper into the history of crowdfunding in film with Shyam Benegal, and exploring director Navneet Prakash’s journey working on his racing documentary ‘Sons of Speed’, we decided to cut to the chase. As we continue exploring the relationship between crowdfunding and films, we go, this time, straight to the sources — collecting opinions from filmmakers who have crowdfunded for their films and thus, had their audiovisual dreams see the light of day because of it.
In Part II of this series, we look at the journey of The One Rupee Project, and speak to filmmaker Anamitra Roy to distil the essence of what it is about independent filmmaking and crowdfunding that make them such a natural fit. Roy’s film tackles something a little more abstract that what the average Indian viewer is used to — it’s a DIY docu-fiction that’s based on the indie film scene in India.
Describing it as a ‘a self-reflexive mockery of the whole journey, our struggle and the place of indie films in the map of motion picture entertainment in the country’, Anamitra explains that the film’s post-structural composition uses several layers of meanings to tell one story, in a non-linear manner.
Initially, Anamitra explains, the aim was to come up with something that’d make their voices reach a larger audience. “People were interested and talking about indie films as far as I remember, but no one was looking at the margins,” he says.
“Crowdfunding was always there if you look at things a little differently,” he says, when asked about how he decided to turn to the means for gathering funds. “When we were in college we used to raise funds for almost everything; from literary bulletins to hardcore political poster campaigns. Making a crowdfunded film was on our agenda since 2009.”
Hosted on Wishberry and Funduzz, their campaign started accepting contributions in February, 2012, with a blog launched in tandem. “We also had handouts being circulated with the details of the campaign for the contributors,” he explains. They managed to raise 215k offline and 85k online, finally, out of which at least 70k came from people they knew.
“The response was huge,” he recalls. “People gave us money to make something most of them would either find boring or too complicated to be understood. We tried to make an engaging film, not an entertaining one, and we did it.”
“We couldn’t manage gap funding for colour grading, ADR and folly, and sending it out to film festivals, but we did make the film. And that’s enough for us to consider it a success. Only a few people have watched it till date, and it was never released even though many articles online claim otherwise.”
The biggest stumbling block that crowdfunding is facing, in his opinion, is the ‘hypocrisy of the new Indian middle class’. Anamitra shares. “By middle class, I refer to people with a disposable salary. Everyone is a revolutionary on Facebook and Twitter, but when it comes to taking a step (this does not refer to signing a petition on change.org) or building up a community dedicated to a cause, what we are left with are mostly those pseudo-activists who are only out to prove a virtual point.”
As for 3 tips he’d give someone looking to start a crowdfunding campaign, Roy says, “Don’t get lost in the myth of the starving artist or else you’ll end up breaking the bank for real. Don’t believe in the hysteria named people’s art. That’s complete BS and art is a very personal thing. Thirdly, it’s all about the momentum. Be desperate enough to not lose it because this kind of a campaign might take a toll on your life.”
Anamitra isn’t sure he’d crowdfund again, but he knows that if he does, he’ll be outsourcing the whole process to someone else so he can concentrate on other aspects of filmmaking.