My campaign published on www.indiegogo.com/sunrise-film was to raise $35,000 to shoot Sunrise अरुणोदय, a 90 minute micro-budget indie fiction feature film. An oneirophrenic psychological thriller which tells the story of Joshi, a cop who tries to find his little daughter who goes missing on her way back from school in an apathetic megalopolis. The film is to be shot on real locations in the city of Mumbai, on multiple HDSLRS, with cine lenses.
I have some great talent attached to the project: Adil Hussain (Joshi) who recently played Pi’s father in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Tannishtha Chatterjee (Leela) who has played in many international feature films like the British film Brick Lane as well as in my first film.
Jean-Marc Ferriere, my Rio based French DoP (also shot my first feature film Let the Wind Blow (Hava Aney Dey) in Mumbai (ready to jump on a plane with his lenses and gear), Eryck Abecassis, a Parisian composer who had also worked on my first film and composed the music for the teaser, my invaluable Mumbai comrades, Rakesh Mehra and Yogesh Vinayak Joshi, script and dialogues writer (Mumbai Meri Jaan) with an eye for a great cast, Tejas Parvatkar, theatre director as my trusted AD and friend and young and motivated band of motorcycle riding assistants, trainees and interns. I was born and had spent the first 27 years of my life in Mumbai (10 years of which I had worked as assistant art director and then as production designer and art director in the Mumbai film industry) and I know the place like the back of my hand. We have everything in place except the cash for the shooting.
By now, I had spent months studying crowd-funding campaigns, the different portals and their fine print and watching video-casts by web gurus. In these times of recession in Europe, state disengagement is reaching unbelievable proportions with governments ruthlessly cutting down on Culture and Education. Crowd-sourcing has become the buzzword and was being touted as the future of funding of the arts. Everyone is talking about it at the film markets of Cannes, Berlin and Toronto. Some have even tried their hand at it, yet failing to make any considerable collection. The International film festival of Rotterdam had launched their crowd-funding experiment, Cinema Reloaded in 2009 but unfortunately had not been very successful. The only crowd-funded projects that have really worked are Zombie horror films or RPG dungeon master stuff which bank on a large existing network of people who were easy to tap. Then there was the Age of Stupid, a wonderful feature film about climate change that raised 245,000 pounds through crowd-funding. I read and re-read their extremely informative ‘How to crowdfund your film’ page.
The campaign lasted a harrowing, cliff hanging, 120 days and a total of US$21,000 contributed by 146 funders. Though our goal was $35,000 we managed to reach 60% of the total. It was extremely difficult but in the end I feel strengthened and empowered by the trust our contributors put into the idea of the film and in me. What was the most touching and telling about the experience was that the majority of the people who funded the film were not, as you may expect, cinema professionals or cinephiles. Beyond friends and family, the majority of my funders were individuals, some of them acquaintances but many unknown to me, who were touched by the story of the film – the tragedy of child trafficking in India – and believed that by contributing to the making of my film that they could do something to help fight against this terrible injustice. Indiegogo allows contributors to leave comments on the site. Some comments included,
This is such an important issue! Thank you for helping bring this to more and more of the worldwide public! We need to protect ALL children! This is a great step…..
I think this is an amazing opportunity to highlight the horrors of human trafficking, especially when it involves children. All the best in getting the rest of the money for the film.
Congratulations! What a great cause! It’s about time someone made a movie about this topic! Wishing you complete success!
What crowd-funding adds to the making of a film is the ability to connect directly with one’s audience, bypassing production companies and distributors who think they know what we want to watch. Here people were funding me to do something that they know is a challenge to make because they want the issue to be highlighted, in effect sending the message to the conventional industry that it must stand up and take note of what the public wants.
We didn’t only crowdfund the project but also managed to crowdsource some invaluable resources worth tens of thousand of dollars. Attracted to the crowdfunding initiative, three companies have pledged their in-kind support, the first being Cine-Trad, Paris who offered to support us with the subtitling of the film, Just Fuel and MadMen Productions, Paris who will support us for the post-production and lastly Luma Tech, Florida with their lenses.
People often send me emails and ask me what’s the secret? There is no secret… you need a network and you have to keep ‘reminding’ them that they need to participate.
I am now preparing a strong pitch for the Locarno Film festival, Open Doors selection where we hope to win one of the three cash grants to help us shoot the film. It may not have been possible to raise all the money to make Sunrise through crowdfunding alone, but the cash raised provides important seed funding. More importantly, the support pledged by ordinary people and the in-kind support of companies demonstrates that there is a strong belief in the project from individuals all over the world. This is testimony to the strength of the project and to the strength of people power to achieve seemingly insurmountable goals.