Film Bazaar: Accessing international finance & distribution

GOA: Film-based treaties between India and other countries like Germany, France, Brazil and now the UK only make co-productions and shooting in these locations a lot simpler. On the second day of the NFDC-organised Film Bazaar, a panel of internationally noted individuals were invited to speak about the access to international finance and distribution.

Moderating this session, Screen International’s Liz Shackleton introduced the panelists–Rosem Films’ Roman Paul and Sylvain Bursztejn, Irristable Films’ Lorna Tee, SPAA Australia’s Geoff Brown and Arclight Films’ Gary Hamilton.

While India has so far not been able to make one particular film work both locally and internationally, the speakers stated the need for a particular cultural aspect to be tackled. They expressed the need for a small story that can break out and work internationally. Following the expression of this need for an international product, the discussion carried into the manner of procuring finance.

Speaking about this aspect, Paul stated that three different kinds of money can be accessed in Germany. That firstly includes regional funds or local funding which are meant for the purpose of acting as economical incentives. The idea for such a source is to attract business into the region. The source for finance also includes TV stations, which are a few in number and highly risky sources.

Speaking further, Paul said, "The good thing is that to gain access to these forms of finance your films need not be in German. The fact is that all it needs is to be able to recoup the investment and make business and logical sense." He further stated that the co-production of such films can be done in two different patterns which is either in the capacity of a co-producer or in a co-production pattern.

Speaking for the East Asian market Tee stated that unlike making films for cultural reasons, the focus now was on making films for the market place. She emphasised on the aspect that finance was available as long as the project made business sense and was commercially viable. She further stated, "We are looking for feature film projects from the experience of second or third time filmmakers. We are in a position to invest up to USD 2.5 million, which can be done fully or partially. We are primarily looking for Asian content which can be in any language and shot anywhere."

Addressing the availability of soft money she stated that except for Singapore, Taiwan and Korea there is access to soft money, but otherwise there isn’t any in these markets. Additionally finding a solution to bridge the gap between India and East Asia, she said, "Firstly we need to be able to see Indian films in Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. This will only allow for more possibilities for co-productions. Barring the NRI audiences in these regions for whom screenings are organised, the rest of the regions cannot see Indian films."

Moving forward the discussion was led to analysing if Indian Films manage to create an Impact and are viewed in regions such as Australia, Germany and France. The general consensus was that Indian films have still not been able to create the required impact and nor are they screened, due to which the level of awareness is low. The panellists also stated that they end up buying DVDs of Indian films due to the lack of exhibition of these films.

Finally the word ended on the fact that raising co-production finance might very well be difficult, but then the support that it provides both in the creative process and the financial support is helpful. The issue eventually boils down to whether one wants to and needs to find an international source of finance and sees the need for an international co-production, especially when the Indian film industry is self sufficed and international finance ends up taking a lot of time and is followed by a long process.

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