The Marriot hotel in Goa is buzzing with stories, quite literally. The 13th edition of the Film Bazaar is underway and every tiny corner of the hotel is filled with filmmakers and prospective financiers huddled in deep conversation. This year 900-plus delegates are in attendance. For the uninitiated, NFDC’s Film Bazaar is a 4-day event that unites creators with people who can help realise their dream – producers, distributors, film festival curators and sales agents. Producer Monalisa Mukherji of Little Lamb Films, who is here with five films in various stages of completion, says it’s a fantastic initiative that helps small-time filmmakers who can’t afford to make a movie or travel to other festivals to meet the right people.
So when there are so many ideas and potential films floating around, how does one stand out? Is there a trick to making yourself heard? Actor and producer Sanjay Suri says that even before he could check in, he had listened to 6 pitches. “A good pitch may not get you the film, but a great pitch will definitely get you a meeting,” explained Suri. Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur, who was at the Bazaar to attend a panel later told us, “If you have only 2-5 minutes with the financier, make it as tight and pithy as possible. You should know exactly why you want to tell your story.”
In his pitch, Singaporean filmmaker Leon Cheo used gory visuals from Interview With The Vampire as a reference. Meanwhile, filmmaker Saurav Rai used footage from his older films while pitching his next Nepali film, Eternity
The first day of the Bazaar kicked off with the Co-Production Market. This is where filmmakers from across the country get to pitch a story that they want to tell to a roomful of producers, distributors, festival programmers, and sales agents. If financiers are suitably impressed by your pitch, Bazaar sets up meetings between the parties to take the conversation forward. One of the filmmakers at the session jokingly announced, “There are four of us (from the film) present here. So even if you don’t ask us for a meeting, we will find you!”
This year, the 14 pitches were made via a slickly cut video presentation where the filmmaker takes you through the vision of their film through images and footage from other popular movies. The idea is to paint a picture of your film before you actually make it. The themes of the films ranged from horror to dystopia to migration. One of them was a film based on Manjula Padmanabhan’s book Feast. In his pitch, Singaporean filmmaker Leon Cheo used gory visuals from Interview With The Vampire as a reference. Meanwhile, filmmaker Saurav Rai used footage from his older films while pitching his next Nepali film, Eternity. “I wanted to say that these are my aesthetics. This is what I can get you. I think it worked because a German lady came and told me later that she thought imagery is good,” he says. It’s day 2 of the event and Rai has already been in 10 meetings, trying to raise funds for his film.
The video presentations at the Market are pre-vetted by the Bazaar team. They ensure that they are effective and compelling and help the filmmakers avoid mistakes that will turn off financiers.
“Stay away from words like ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’ and ‘I want to change the world’. Your opinions are important but let the other person decide… And avoid too many character names. Remember, the person on the other end is listening to many pitches a day. They won’t remember your character names,” says producer Sanjay Suri.
A first-time filmmaker with a short film in the Viewing Room (where one can watch completed or semi-completed films looking for funding) is at Goa with the hope of showing his film to international festival programmers. He’s desperate for some valuable feedback from the experts. But how does he ensure they watch his film? For that he’s discovered he must develop good networking skills. He’s drawn up a list of the programmers in attendance and plans to walk up to them and request them to see his film. The very idea of having to personally grab eyeballs for his film is nerve-wracking.
Suri says over the years he’s seen filmmakers make some rookie mistakes. “Stay away from words like ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’ and ‘I want to change the world’. Your opinions are important but let the other person decide… Also a lot of times people forget pitching themselves. And avoid too many character names. Remember the person on the other end is listening to many pitches a day. They won’t remember your character names,” he added.
Rai believes that despite all the wisdom he’s received on networking and pitching (two words you hear a lot over the course of these days), he would like to believe that if your film has merit, word gets around organically. Last year his film, Nimtoh was at the Viewing Room when producer Sanjay Gulati of Crawling Angel Films saw it and reached out to him. Finding funding enabled Rai to improve the post production of his film – most importantly, it meant budgets for better sound design. Nimtoh won the Grand Jury Prize at the recent Mumbai Film Festival. “At film school we were all idealistic. We thought we’d make great cinema and people would just know. Now I’ve realised that it’s not just filmmaking, you need other skill sets too to get your film made… But I still believe if the idea is good, people will come to you,” he says.
(In association with NFDC’s Film Bazaar)