Weaving movies with shoestring budgets: Here's how
The next time when you feel you can't possibly make a film with a few lakh rupees, take a look at names like Srinivas Sunderrajan, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan and Hemant Gaba - all independent filmmakers who have successfully made movies with shoestring budgets.
In times when multi-crore budget films shot with extravagance and in international locales are co-existing with movies made in the country's hinterlands and within smaller budgets, one wonders what can be done to take a script to screen by spending the lowest possible amount.
Sunderrajan, who made Hindi-English drama-thriller "The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project", spent merely Rs 40,000 on the project, which was supposed to be a zero budget film.
Sunderrajan adopted the guerilla filmmaking technique to shoot the film mostly on weekends and in several locations without permission.
"Most of us had day jobs and therefore chose to shoot over the weekend. When we had to shoot on the train, we would just go on board. We would bribe the waiters to let us in before they started service to shoot scenes in a cafe," Sunderrajan told IANS.
At any given point, the director would work only with key characters of the film so that he could ensure cost-cutting.
"Most of the time I worked with my cinematographer and lead actor. Only when a location or scene needed change of actor, I would bring him or her to the shoot", he added.
He also added that most of the editing was done on a borrowed Macbook, while the post-production, visual effects and sound design were done on home computer.
Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, director of Tamil family-drama "Aarohanam", which was made under Rs.50 lakh, did most of her edit work on paper. That brought down the costs immensely.
"Since I had everything on paper, every shot we took was used in the film and there was no wastage. We knew the exact duration of the film and how much footage we could afford to shoot," Ramakrishnan told IANS.
She used her contacts to get best possible quotes on camera equipments and other such technical props.
"It makes sense to get the pricing from three different people and decide on the best, based on quality and pricing," she added.
Summing it up, Ramakrishnan also said being on schedule helped as the shooting was not extended even for a day.
"In case shoot gets extended to another call sheet, I brought in what was planned for another day to the second call sheet; that way we saved money," she said.
Hemant Gaba, director of Hindi comedy-drama "Shuttlecock Boys", which was made on a budget of Rs.35 Lakh, believed in keeping things as local as possible.
"Hire equipment, crew, and cast locally that not only gives flexibility to shoot but can also cut down on the travel or hotel expenses," Gaba told IANS.
"For post-production, not every city in India provides colour correction and 5.1 mix facilities, but if one is willing to learn, colour correction can also happen on softwares like Magic Bullets and Scratch that are widely used in Indie films abroad," he added.
"There is no definitive guide out there in terms of inexpensive workflows, but using internet as a medium and researching as a habit can also keep costs in control," concluded Gaba.
And, as filmmaker Shekhar Kapur puts it, "Anyone with a phone with a video-making ability is now a filmmaker."
(Haricharan Pudipeddi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)