Film Bazaar 2022 l Decoding Independent Film l MasterClass l Talk-Session l Value-Series

By: Amit KumaR Agarwal

Year after year I attend film festivals, film markets and film conclaves, where most of the talks and sessions try to decode independent-filmmaking - making them and selling them. The recently concluded Film Bazaar 2022 organized by NFDC under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India; was no different. The gist of almost all the sessions and masterclasses was, making a film and selling a film.
To know the facts, we need to understand what is Independent Film-making in the first place. Almost 99% of film-makers use the term, but don't know it's meaning!
Independent film is any film that does not have a studio involved in the four major phases of film-making 1. Pre-Production 2. Production 3. Post-Production 4. Marketing and Distribution
If your film doesn't have a studio involved in any of these four-phases, your film is an independent film and you are an independent filmmaker or indie-filmmaker!

I had the good fortune of attending the MasterClass of Abel Ferrara during the Cannes Film Festival, during the session, the talk steered to what should be the budget of an Indie Film.
An aspiring actress turns Producer with an Indie-Film
during the Cannes Film Festival
Budget for Indie-Films Without spilling much ink, now since this is a digital-portal, too many words; the gist was, the budget should be anywhere between $100K to $500K for the US market; for the Indian market anywhere from INR2.5 million to INR4 million.
Six of my friends in 2022 and 2023 (1st quarter) went against this basic rule. They made indie-films in the range of INR20 million to INR40 million, few had supporting actors from mainstream films; but all these films were debacles because they went against this basic rule. These six films couldn’t even recoup cinema rentals, the belief rather the overconfidence that the films will recoup their money from digital or OTT’s came a cropper because all the OTT’s in the Indian space today have major studios making films and content for them. Had they been realistic they wouldn’t have suffered the losses.
Be Realistic This is precisely the second point to take note of. A filmmaker has to be realistic about the subject-matter chosen to make the film. Make films that are achievable in the budget. If you have a film that is not achievable in the budget than you are making a mistake, more often than not, the film will be stuck.
Select Scripts that are simple Select simple and strong scripts. When writing, most of the filmmakers don’t have the budget in mind. However, if you’re serious and realistic about making a film, you should first have a clarity, about the budget you have or budget you can raise! Unless you have given a hit film or have a solid network with the studios or people that matter in the film-industry; your first film will be self-financed. As a, yet to make a mark, filmmaker, it’s unlikely that anyone will give you million dollars for your film. If you don’t have extremely wealthy connections, it will be even more challenging. Keeping it simple is the key.
Indie Film in US and Europe v/s India Making indie-films in US and Europe is still easier because many countries and states give tax-rebates to individuals that support cinema and media by investing in the films and media. Unfortunately, this is not the case in India, this makes making indie-films in India even tougher.
There are many films in the west that have multi-investors, investing as low as US$3,000 to be a producer on an indie-film. Many indie-films have as many as 50 investors. It is all about the network you have.

Marketing Hallmark of each and every successful indie-filmmaker is a solid marketing network. This can help an indie-filmmaker not only in raising funds for the movie, but also the all important sales of the movie. More often than not distribution and exhibition of the movie.
Film Festivals This is the most important aspect for an Indie-Filmmaker after the film is made. The thumb-rule is only 1% of all films made in the world are seen by more than 10,000 audiences. There are huge chances that your indie-film won't recoup its investment, but smart move can get you in that list of 1% film-makers where your film is seen by more than 10,000 audiences!
Again, most indie-filmmakers exhaust their entire budget in making the film. What will you do by making the film, when it is not seen by anyone?
Independent filmmakers ought to realize that while making an indie-film, 25% of the budget should be kept to showcase the film - for the outreach and the visibility of the film.
If you are a smart filmmaker that knows this all crucial point, get your film to as many film-festivals as you can. There are more than 50,000 film festivals every year across the world. Enter your film to as many festivals as you can, no matter big or small; point is, your film should be seen at the film festival, you never know from where and from whom, funding of your next film might happen!