The Future Of Film Financing
Got a film idea? Brilliant. So, how do you plan to go about it as a film production house? Approach the financiers the traditional way and ensure that their interest is retained all through the journey of your film, right from scripting to final editing so that the cash flow remains smooth, consistent and predictable. And then the inevitable happens. One of the financiers backs out at the N moment and you find yourself at sea, beginning with the scratch again. Sounds familiar?
Film financing has always been an uphill task for filmmakers. It is a well-known fact that the film industry functions primarily on exorbitant loans for the lack of corporate backing. Add the big stars who demand equally exorbitant prices, apart from the fees to technicians and crew. This eventually pushes producers to look for varied sources of film financiers rather than depending upon just one.
The difficulty in raising funds while the film is still being canned also affects the production values, despite having best-in-business technicians. Furthermore, although the projection systems and delivery of content have moved to digital, the ticketing in most theatres in the 3 tier cities is still at nascent stage with gross underreporting and a thriving black economy rampant across its spectrum.
As a film producer, I have gone through many such experiences and it left me wondering what can be a futuristic way of financing films. Before we dwell on the future, let’s do a quick recap of how film financing evolved in our country. If you go back to the early sixties and seventies, film financing was majorly done by the businessmen ‘seths’, as they used to be called. With passage of time, industrialists stepped in and later the Mumbai underworld ventured into film financing, if the reports are to be believed.
Later stepped in the corporate entities, which turned the entire filmmaking business into, well, a business. A group of committees began to review the creative aspect of filmmaking, which is now known as ‘content’. Having said so, I would still vouch for the fact that the Corporates made our filmmaking process more organised. Crowdsourcing, though sounds interesting, hasn’t really found many takers, if you go by the example of actor-director Rajat Kapoor reaching out the crowd to finance his upcoming film, RK v/s Rkay and a few indie filmmakers like Sandeep Mohan who makes his films like ‘Shreelancer’ on shoestring budget and often relies on crowdsourcing for locations, camera equipment, etc. It still might work for Indie filmmakers but is definitely not a viable option for a decent budgeted commercial film, if you know what I mean.
Whether one likes it or not, filmmaking has always been a ‘Commercial Art’. Multiple homes are run by films, the box office performance or the OTT views shape the future of artists and technicians of a film and one cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the commercial aspect of filmmaking. The ultimate objective of a film is to entertain people, make them think and in the whole bargain, make money for the people behind it.
Having inked multiple films deal with A leading Studio with my film production company, SP Cinecorp, I can safely say that it’s the best way forward to make films, wherein we have a strong financial backing that lends us the freedom to explore new subjects and market the film on a mass scale. For instance, there have been many concepts that deserve a wider platform but never get made, owing to lack of financiers. Not anymore, thanks to the Corporates stepping in to back a promising film.
As I muse over the future of film finance, I can foresee multiple avenues. For instance, the surplus funds of a corporate company, real estate company or a large business conglomerate can invest in films. VCs, i.e., Venture Capital, a form of private equity and a type of financing that investors provide to start-up companies and small businesses can explore films as a viable business investment.
In an age of OTT platforms coexisting with multiplexes and DTH, films seldom lose money, unless something goes completely wrong in the creative, as well as finance aspects of making it. So, I can see no reason why VCs and businessmen with surplus funds are shying away from investing in films. Hope things change for the better. Till then, Corporate companies will always remain the most trusted allies of a film production company.