City-based independent filmmakers talk about short films and the challenges they face during the filmmaking reports Sohini Chakravorty

It was the second day of the 48 hour bandh. The city was slowly getting back to its normal pace. The malls in the city were opening their shutters hesitantly but the long queue outside the ticket counter of a multiplex despite a bandh only reaffirmed Hyderabadis' love for cinema. Irrespective of the language, movies are a favourite pastime here. Yet, except from full-length feature films; there is hardly any audience for other forms like and short films.

In the past few years however, a growing number of independent filmmakers have been narrating their stories through short films. Despite lack of funds, resources and appreciation, it is their passion for cinema that has made them take the road less travelled.

“Earlier funds were a major challenge but with better technology and availability of DSLR video camera, the cost of making a short film has come down a lot,” explains 22-year-old Anantha K. Perumal, a Hyderabad-based independent filmmaker. He started making films at the age of 17 and feels that it is the creative competition that is more challenging than procuring funds. “In most of the international film festivals you are pitted against bigger filmmakers who also occasionally make short films. Getting your work noticed despite their presence poses a creative challenge,” he says.

Foreign films and inspiration from the veteran film editor late Dulal Dutta who worked closely with Satyajit Ray were sources from where Samik Roy Choudhury learnt the ropes of filmmaking. Apart from short films, he has shot music videos and screened micro films which are of 60 seconds or less at international film festivals. He says in the age of internet, audience cannot be limited to any particular city or state and it is easy to get a global audience. “Online portals like withoutabox.com provide online application submission service for various film festivals. Hyderabad has a vibrant film industry. If some of the producers invest their money in short films, it would be a huge encouragement for independent filmmakers. Conducting more film festivals will also give us a big opportunity to showcase our work,” he says.

In order to create a creative space for independent filmmakers, Rahul Reddy with five other friends started Octopus Studio which is engaged in screening short films. “We started in December by taking entries from various independent filmmakers and short listing them and screening them at Lamakaan. We are now in the fourth edition. The Studio also provides these filmmakers a platform to network and discuss the ‘pain points' about filmmaking,” he explains.

The subjects can be varied and Samik points out that unlike a feature film, a short film leaves food for thought for its audience. The average cost of a short film is around Rs 10, 000; with smarter technology the cost can be brought down to Rs 2000 to 3000 according to Anantha.

With a group of seven members, Hussain Shah Kiran started his own production unit.

He says, “Each of us are involved in the filmmaking process. We are all doing it for the love of cinema and don't expect any kind of remuneration. Using YouTube and social networking sites, we spread the word about our work.”

For most of these filmmakers short films are a stepping stone to big budget feature films.

“What we need is more screen space. It will be a huge encouragement, if the movie theatres screen some of the short films during intervals or before the beginning of any movie,” suggests Hussain.

Though the challenges are many, most of these filmmakers feel that with a good video camera and passion for cinema, getting started on filmmaking is not impossible.

Keywords: short films