Bikas Mishra, founder of DearCinema.com was on the Annapurna College campus recently to give our MMBA students a masterclass in international co-productions, independent film financing, et al. We caught up with him.
How does an International co-production work? What are the obstacles to look out for?
International co-productions have become the norm for Indian films that have a large international appeal. Of late, we have seen a lot of successful international co-productions with Indian producers, taking place.
For a co-production to happen, the producer should first decide who his audience is, whether it is the local masses or the broader international platform. If it is the latter, then only should he go in for an international co-production, or else I don’t see any point in such collaborations.
The primary concern is to understand whether the film is made for an international audience or not. I would say the best way to do so is to pitch it to international producers. They will only come on-board if the film has a market in their country. It is your litmus test.
Is there been a rise in international co-productions in India and what do you think the reason behind it is?
There certainly has been a rise. Films like The Lunchbox are successful examples of the international co-production model. A successful film automatically leads to more collaboration. The International Co-production Market in Goa, which has been happening for the last eight years, also encourages such partnerships.
The main goal is to meet international producers and pitch your project. This is a formal platform that gives adequate exposure to international producers for Indian content and vice-versa.
There are plenty of reasons for the rise of international co-productions. The government has been pushing hard for such production models in the recent past. NFDC has even set up a co-production market.
Moreover there is widespread interest in Indian films across the globe. Most of our films feature in International film festivals. It’s hard to find a film festival today that doesn’t screen an Indian-made film. The world is opening up to Indian films, more and more.
How do international co-productions help the Indian film industry?
International co-productions help Indian films get global coverage. When a film is co-produced it is released internationally with the same gusto as back home, thus capturing the foreign market.
Earlier, Indian films that were released in foreign theatres, were primarily limited to the NRI audience only. But that’s not the case with internationally co-produced films. They enjoy equal importance internationally as at home. International co-productions open up new horizons for Indian films.
Does the Indian film industry have to produce different types of movies to attract International talent?
When an Indian producer pitches his story to an international producer, he needs to look at his biography: whether the producer has worked on such projects before or not. If he has, one can be sure that he would indulge in it again. Secondly the story needs to incorporate local flavour. For e.g. a movie like The Lunchbox couldn’t be shot anywhere in India. It had to be shot in Mumbai. The key is to write a story or find a story that is very local and at the same time has a universal appeal.
Once an international producer is on-board, he gets his own crew. He already has been working with a pool of talent, and definitely he would be more comfortable bringing them in.
Your website DearCinema.com is the first website dedicated to Indian independent filmmaking. What inspired you to start it?
The very reason I started this website was to find a way into the industry, to understand what independent filmmaking is. The independent filmmaking industry is a relatively small circle; DearCinema forms one point of contact for them.
I understood there was a lack of information about the Indian independent film industry back in 2007. There was an urgent need for a platform for filmmakers to share their experiences and knowledge. DearCinema formed this platform. It forms the bridge between the experienced and the novice — providing information to young aspiring filmmakers.
We write about world cinema, international films that make it big in India, film festivals taking place globally and everything that will come in handy to an independent filmmaker.