I still remember the night of 24th February, 2012, when we held a private screening of ‘Gutthi’ at Prasad Labs in Hyderabad. Apart from friends and short film enthusiasts, a few Telugu film industry artistes had also come to the event. Watching your film on big screen with a theater full of audience is perhaps the most magical moment you can ever experience in your life. Surprisingly, your audience gets ‘everything’ that you wanted to convey. And on top of that, they also enjoy those moments which you never thought had any importance in the overall plot.
Since then , I have shown the movie to thousands of people and have received the entire spectrum of feedback possible. Some have told me it was so slow that they had to “fast forward” and see it and some have also told me that it is the best thriller they saw since Nolan’s ‘Following’. The key to being objective to feedback – positive, constructive or irrelevant- is to learn to let it go. The feeling of “owning” your film ceases the moment it is out there in public! Its for the entire world to see, judge and form an opinion of; just like you do with other’s films.
Our objective of making ‘Gutthi’ was very clear. Once completed, we wanted to try our luck at various festivals. I was naive about this part of film making. The only festivals I had heard of were the big ones that are shown on news channels- courtesy the star power they attract. I started with a few of them and got straight rejects from each one of them. One must note that sending film to festivals is a very expensive process. Most of them charge a submission fee; on top of it there are expenses of couriering the application forms and DVD of the film. But the most tedious process is filling up the details of the film on those application forms. It is like applying for a competitive entrance examination ! And then after spending thousands of rupees and numerous hours behind these fests when you get no response at all- it is the most heartbreaking thing ever.
I also happened to do a 10 day film making workshop at IIT Chennai in the middle where I must have submitted the DVD of my film to every film maker who attended the event from Anurag Kashyap and Sriram Raghavan to Habib Faisal and Rohan Sippy. While all of them promised to mail me back a feedback, only one person actually did. Film critic & indie film maker Sudhish Kamath. The truth soon dawned upon me that perhaps the film was special only for me. It hardly had any chance of going out there and seeking the attention of the right people in the industry.
By this time I had left Hyderabad to pursue MBA from XIM, Bhubaneswar. Anurag Basu happened to visit our campus once and I happened to be the student point-of-contact for him. It was the first time that I had given the DVD of the film to a director and he watched it! He connected me to LargeShortFilms. They initially showed interest in releasing the film along with few other shorts as an anthology. But I guess with the controversy surrounding their first production – “Last Act”, they decided to stick to online release of shorts only. It was at this point that someone told me about Pocket Films.
Pocket Films, run by Saameer & Shwetal Mody, have a very simple business model of releasing alternate content on internet and mobile platforms and sharing the revenue earned through ads with the film maker. It’s a great platform for indie and short film makers in India. But more importantly, for film makers like me, they do film festival consultancy that is hand picking the fests best suited for the film, completing the application process for them and mailing the film to the fests. Indian Film Festival, Stuttgart was the first festival they sent ‘Gutthi’ to where it was selected for an official screening besides a nomination for the Director’s Vision award.
It is through pocket films that I learnt that every festival caters to a particular audience and genre; the selection of fests must thus be done accordingly. Having been more than a year old since it’s completion ‘Gutthi’ stood disqualified for entry to a number of fests. As for the ones where it could contest and was sent to, ‘Gutthi’ was officially selected for screening to four other fests in Madurai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Jaipur apart from Stuttgart. The results for a couple of fests are still awaited.
It has been a 3 year long journey with the film so far. From learning about the grammar of film making to understanding the market of independent and short films, ‘Gutthi’ has given me back much more than what I ever set out to achieve. I hope I get a chance to make another short soon. As for budding film makers like me, here are a few things I learnt during the process. Hope it helps you as well :
1. The only way to make a film is to make it. If you wait for the right time and right resources to fall in place, it will just get indefinitely delayed.
2. On the sets, feed everyone well and keep them elevated. There is no point in slogging if people are physically and emotionally exhausted.
3. It is your film ! Your cast and crew will come, be part of the journey and then move on to their individual lives again. Good, bad or ugly whatever the feature turns out to be, you have to stay with it. So as far as possible, don’t compromise with your original vision for lack of time, human and financial resources !
4. Having said that, you must realize that your visualization is not sacrosanct. It is limited by your experience of life. Be ready to read out your script to as many people as possible, with same level of enthusiasm as you did the first time, and incorporate changes, if necessary, as per the feedback.
5. A film well made is only half the good work done. If you are planning to take it out to an audience through fests or private screening – keep separate budget for that portion exclusively. It helps.
Sharing below the link to the complete film. Please let me know your feedback on the comments section below. Will help me grow as a film maker. (You can rate our film on IMDB here)
Note- you can check out Part I of the making of Gutthi here