How to make your own film
By: S Ramachandran
March 2, 2003
1. Find your script
Let it reflect your beliefs and convictions but also ensure it can be made fast and shot cheap. “Make sure your script has limited locations,” advises Anurag Kashyap.
“Have conviction in your script and don’t compromise once it’s ready,” says producer Sanjay Routray.
“Have rehearsals of the script with the actors. They should be well-versed with the film. It saves on the cost,” adds Kashyap.
“Make your film on a shoestring budget. The best way to beat the star system is with economical films,” says music director-turned-director Vishal Bharadwaj.
2. Check money status
Work out the cost of the film and then do whatever it takes to get at least 20 per cent of the amount.
“I borrowed some money from friends. Then I put in whatever I earned from my music direction into Makdee,” says Bharadwaj about his debut film.
Kashyap who also wrote Satya says, “I thought after Satya, a lot of people would want to put money into my film, but that was not the case. I had to cut my debut film Train to Mahakali and premiere it on TV.
For Paanch I had to go from producer to producer for five years. My film kept getting rejected because of its ending. Producer Tutu Sharma was the only one who agreed.
“But now for my next film, Gulal, I am going through the same routine,” says Kashyap. Routray says, “Get your money organised before you start shooting.
Otherwise you’ll end up shelving the film midway for lack of finances or you may have to go and beg for money.
A filmmaker should concentrate on making his film, not raising money during the middle of the shoot.
3. Get cast and crew
Get people who need work and are good. “You should get people who are dying to work. People who are not interested in money, but in working.
And the cast should be good. If you have very good performances, people will overlook other flaws,” says Kashyap.
Routray does things at a tangent to this. “Get the people you want to work with. Tell them you are shooting the film at a stretch and finish your shoot fast.
Let me tell you the example of my dressman during the shoot of Matrubhumi.
A dressman gets paid a lakh for a film which gets completed in a year. I paid him Rs 25,000 for a one-month schedule. Agreed that he made much less for my film, but he made it in a month.
So it is better for both. That’s why pre-preparations for the film are more important than running around later,” he says.
Of course, if you manage to convince your cast and technicians that you will pay them later if the film makes money, your job is done. You save on around 25 per cent of the cost.
4. Raise 25 per cent
It is easy to get 25 per cent credit from the market once you have the set-up ready. Kodak even sponsors the sound negative worth a lakh of rupees for experimental filmmakers, says Routray.
Vishal Bharadwaj has a word of caution: “Don’t go to a government organisation like Children’s Film Society of India for your first film.
They will butcher it. They only give you Rs 50 lakh and then dictate too many terms.
I had gone to them. Sai Paranjpye wanted to chop my film Makdee into half. I preferred to get out of the deal. Makdee has been a huge success and critically acclaimed as well.
Today I am making a Rs 10 crore film Mia Maqbool with Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu and Om Puri because of Makdee,” says Bharadwaj.
“Avoid indulging producers or anyone else. Once you start compromising, you keep on doing it. For starters, don’t allow the producer to cast his nephew in the lead role.
Such compromises never stop and ultimately, your film is not what it was when it began,” says Routray, executive producer (EP) of Paanch which was completed in Rs 1.25 crore.
He was a co-producer in Makdee which was completed in a crore and is currently co-producing Matrubhumi at a cost of Rs 1.70 crore.
5. Get financier
Offer something tangible to the man putting in the remaining money, like the satellite and overseas rights of the film, for example.
“The Indian video and overseas rights of Makdee sold for Rs 31 lakh.
We made Rs 40 lakh from the satellite telecast of the film, which will premiere on March 6 on Zee TV,” says Routray.
6. Identify locations
Plan properly and make sure your locations are right, that makes it easier to wrap up faster. Vishal Bharadwaj shot in Goa and Mumbai for Makdee.
Matrubhumi is being shot in Harda, MP, at the house of a local leader. Anurag shot in a moving train and on Mumbai’s streets. He also shot at his house. Vishal is shooting his next film in Bhopal.
Makdee was shot in 23 days, Paanch in 37 and Matrubhumi in 27 days. And yes, Train to Mahakali was shot in four days. For the record, the south Indian film Swayamwaram was shot in a day.
7. Start shooting
Raw stock costs Rs 8,700 per can of 400 sq ft. An experimental film consumes around 42,400 sq ft which is 106 cans.
So you can can your films cheap if your script is ready, the actors believe in you and the technicians are ready to work with a promise of being paid later or are working for a low fee.
8. What next
Drop the newspaper and go get your script.
Story, screenplay and dialogue
Technical crew (cinematographer, editor, sound, choreographer etc)
Studio, set, props and costumes
Equipment on hire
Raw stock and lab
Recording and editing (post production)
General expenses (insurance, catering, transportation, etc)
Daily wages and allowances
Accommodation and travel
Total Plus cost of cast, accommodation and travel
Rs 5 lakh
Rs 4 lakh
as per script
Rs 20 lakh
Rs 15 lakh
Rs 14 lakh
Rs 15 lakh
Rs 20 lakh
Rs 17.5 lakh
Rs 12 lakh
Rs 10 lakh
as per location
Rs 5 lakh
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My first film: Anurag Kashyap
It was called Train to Mahakali, made in 1999. It was a 63-minute film made at a cost of Rs 2.5 lakh.
I had an actor who stole the camera at night from the TV channel he was working for. He replaced it in the morning without anyone knowing about it, so my equipment came free.
Then I reached Virar station and hijacked the last compartment of the last train to Churchgate.
There I shot my scenes, which had already been rehearsed. I got a good 15 minutes of footage from that. We disembarked at Andheri Station and also shot there.
Then we moved on to the airport in an autorickshaw and shot in the rickshaw too. Our production van (a Maruti Gypsy) doubled up as a police vehicle after we put a red light on top of it.
Then we shot at the producer Manish Tiwari’s home in Thakur Complex at Andheri.
The next day we shot at my house. Then we hired a place at Kamalistan studios and finished the shoot with the location doubling up as a police cell and police station.
The film was completed in four days.