“The Art of HUSTLING as Producer: Balancing the Technical Triad of People, Process and Profits”:
Ms. Elahe Hiptoola, Actor, Producer and Executive Producer
There are several myriad macro issues and select micro nuggets, that revolve around the structural dynamics and inherent dilemmas in film producing; commonalities and differences between Indie filmmaking and studio/commercial filmmaking routes.
PRODUCING PHILOSOPHY revolves around finding innovative ways to produce films that are financially fruitful, societally truthful, critically impactful and creatively tasteful.
Before one ventures on the journey of filmmaking, they must embrace few truths:
- Producing and most specifically line producing is the most asexual (gender neutral) job on the planet.
- No Job is too small and is no person too big enough, in a film set. Film is a director’s medium.
- The key to being a great line producer is simple: stay organized, frugal, minimal and super-efficient. Pay attention and meet with someone from every department every day. Track everything on continual basis and keep digital copies, mindful of exigencies and contingencies.
- Recollecting the resounding success of films like Hyderabad Blue’s, when a director’s vision of a film is clear, people enjoy working in the service of the big vision.
- Producing has been for a long time a male preserve with many barriers for women producers. However, we are progressively moving towards a change with woman taking leadership positions.
- Never make the mistake of confusing the communication structure with the organizational structure/hierarchy in film set. Communication and the exchange of ideas need to be unhindered for a team to be successful unmindful of the hierarchy.
- Echoing the famous and oft repeated saying ““Nobody knows anything” (attributed to William Goldman) in her own words, she says that not one person in entertainment industry knows it absolute certainty what’s going to work. Every time it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated guess. Mindful of this, it is better to produce movies that one wants to watch personally and likes oneself. Do your own thing. Her producing ethos may as well be summarized as “Believe in your own beliefs. Make your own movies. Break open the convention and associated trends”.
- Costumes are one of many tools the director has to tell the story with. Costumes communicate the details of a character’s personality to the audience, and help actors transform into new and believable people on screen. Harping upon the strategic importance of ‘Costume Design’ (for example the movie ‘Iqbal’), costumes must work within the composition of a scene. Everything in the frame is designed to help tell the story, including the people, sets, set dressings, props and costumes. Costume Design has a utilitarian (functional) perspective and aesthetic perspective in a film.
- “Good films can be made only by a crew of dedicated maniacs,” David Lean once said. While a director usually gets the most amount of praise, one can’t forget the backbone of production: the collaborative crew that makes up the many moving parts. To make quality movies, the entire crew- specifically Associate Directors and Production Executives need to have steadfast dedication, unwavering commitment and relentless work ethic.
The inputs for this blog are based on insights shared by Ms. Elahe Hiptoola during Webinar on ‘Producing, Costume Design and Acting’ at Annapurna College of Film and Media, Hyderabad
Expert Bio: Ms. Elahe Hiptoola is an Actor, Producer and Executive Producer. As an executive producer, she has several Hindi films like Bollywood Calling, 3 Deewarein, Lakshmi Hyderabad Blues 2, and Iqbal. She has also done supporting roles in movies like Iqbal, Aashayein, Morning Raga. She is also the founder of ‘Lamakaan’ in Hyderabad, an inclusive cultural space that promotes and presents the best of arts, literature, theatre, debate and dialogue with a commitment to being open and accessible. This makes her a cultural entrepreneur in truest sense in addition to being a resourceful visionary and cultural change agent.
The author of the blog and Annapurna College of Film and Media makes it very clear that the knowledge being shared by the expert is for informational and educational purposes only. The questions are designed for students to listen to experience. The blog is written to capture the experience.