GOA: Documentaries have for long been a part of the informal audio visual sector of India, with no suitable funding means or showcasing platforms and have been afflicted by mediocre perception amongst one and all.
NFDC’s Film Bazaar organized a seminar to discuss how Indian documentaries can reach a global audience. The panel consisted of famous and award winning documentary film makers from all over the world. Unfortunately as the discussion progressed, the topic under discussion deviated to the basics amenities an Indian documentary film maker still craves for.
The Indian documentary film makers pointed out their basic and age old problems of funding, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), marketing, distribution, lack of understanding and involvement from government bodies amongst many others. However, one wonders that despite these endless issues, how so many documentary film makers have dedicated 20 – 30 years of their life to this stream.
Throwing light on the funding of documentaries, Marie Michel Cattelain the maker of Unlimited said, “Unlimited was a co-production between France and Pakistan and we managed to pre sell the rights to two French TV channels in Canada and France, but they did not bring any money on board. We had a budget of $2,00,000 and received funding from eight different sources,” Cattelain said.
Ashim Ahluwalia producer and director of documentary John & Jane said, “Indian documentary film makers need to be very clear about their movies, genres, distribution and sales agents. Unfortunately, there are no ready made solutions to this and we need to do a lot of research.”
He made a documentary on the Indian call centres for which he managed to get on board the biggest sales agent of documentaries in the world and HBO even went onto to release the film theatrically in the US.
Sophokles Tasioulis, the maker of Deep Blue, made his documentary on a lavish budget of $47 million, in co-production with BBC Worldwide. The film was screened on TV and even released theatrically. Tasioulis said, “It is necessary for documentaries to be entertaining and appealing in their story telling.”
Mike Pandey, three times Green Oscar Winner, further pointed out that the Indian documentary story telling needs to change drastically.
Further, the requirement for showcase platforms suggest that channels other than the government run Doordarshan need to come forward for help, newer news channels should allot some funds to documentary and also showcase it; documentaries should be made on film for the big screen. Additionally, platforms such as Video on Demand, Pay Per View and Internet should be used widely to distribute the documentaries and reach out rightfully to the niche audience. The maker and not the funder should retain the IPR of the documentary.
In February this year, the I&B ministry allocated Rs 200 million (Rs 20 crores) to documentary film makers, which will be utilized over a period of five years. Although miniscule steps have been taken towards the development a lot more is left desired.