Director Arun Kanth handled 14 departments during the production of his film Goko Mako, which included jobs as varied as editing, digital imaging and even music, apart from directing, writing and producing the film himself. The film released on February in 20 theatres across Tamil Nadu. Even though this article does not vouch for the quality of the film, it is interesting to see how one person worked on so many aspects and how he even managed to distribute the film himself. Made on a budget of Rs.25 lakh, Arun Kanth takes us through the stages of the film’s production and how he is able to guarantee his next release on August 15.
Goka Mako is actually my second film. Before this, I had made another film for an outside producer and that’s ready and censored. When you go to a producer, you lose your freedom. It tests your patience to an extreme level. As an independent filmmaker, I believe in independence. I want to make the films I like. The best way to do that is to produce your own film. A lot of people feel you need a lot of money to produce your film. But if you plan your workflow well, you can get your film made with a very small amount. I made this film with Rs.25 lakh.
Planning your budget
Before I worked out the budget, I approached banks to see how much I am worth. According to the banks, I am worth nothing (laughs). So I ended up going to back to my family. My parents have been motivational and they supported me. Even my wife, I’ve been married for one year, has been a major support for this film. But before that, I had to convince my parents. If you can’t even convince your parents, how can you convince your audience? So I convinced them I would be able to make the film I wanted at a very low cost. I could do this because I spent six years gaining knowledge about every single department of filmmaking, right from still photography to the final mix. I learnt a lot of these using YouTube tutorials and a lot of trial and error. I realised that if you want to become a director, you need to know every department. Whether you put other people to work or you’re doing everything yourself, you still need that knowledge to get the job done. I worked on around 14 departments in this film so I was able to cut a huge cost. The same film would have cost someone else one crore to make.
Writing for the budget
I wrote the script based on what I could accommodate within the budget I could afford. If you want to make a cliché film with a hero introduction scene, obviously it’s going to cost a lot more money. But if you think creatively, think out of the box and create your own workflow, the budget comes down. And because the budget was low, we did not face any major issues. I enjoyed the process and we made the film like we’re on a picnic. Even the actors I chose are natural performers, people who can give me dialogues on the spot. I prefer to go to the location and improvise my scenes. That’s what makes a film seem natural and spontaneous.
Sticking to the budget
I finished Goko Mako in just 12 days. I’m a very fast filmmaker. But that’s because I plan my films. With every scene, I’m able to give myself enough space to feel like that’s the only scene I’m shooting on that day…like that scene itself is the whole film. Also, because I’m the editor myself, I don’t believe in shooting 100 shots just to use one of them. I shoot only what I want and stick to it. I just notice how a shot is able to make me smile and then “okay” that shot. I shot like an editor basically and I don’t need mid, close and wide shots for every dialogue.
Releasing the film in theatres
People say releasing is more difficult than making a film. But I don’t agree. I feel it’s all easy if you love what you’re doing. If you’re within your budget and you end making a film that looks like it has a certain quality, you can release it on your own. One must concentrate on the content and not the brands in the film. Here in Tamil Nadu, there is a process to get your film distributed. Middlemen will demand a certain amount of money to get your film released. But all I did was approach the theatre directly. You need to get to the ground and convince them to screen your film. You must ask them to support a young filmmaker. Usually, they say that they won’t, you have to convince them with your trailers and explain why we’re only looking at a small niche audience. I found my audience and only approached those theatres who would be interested in screening a film like mine.
I released this film with just Rs. 3 lakh. Also, I didn’t approach any OTT platforms because I don’t feel you should sell your film, which I consider an asset. My plan is to keep releasing the film whenever I get a chance. Because I stuck to an affordable budget, I know how to pay my loans and repay my debt. But I will keep my film rights with myself. When you’re in a hurry, people will try to misuse you. If you are confident about your content, don’t sell your film. I started this project on Valentine’s Day last year. I decided to release it on Valentine’s Day 2019 and I did. Same way, I’ve decided to make my next film on Valentine’s Day this year and it’s an English film called Bloody Humans. I assure you that my film will release, this time on August 15.