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Expenses shoot up in tinsel town

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COSTLY: Film shoots are becoming an expensive affair in Chennai. A shoot in progress at AVM studios.
COSTLY: Film shoots are becoming an expensive affair in Chennai. A shoot in progress at AVM studios.

S.Aishwarya

There is 20 per cent increase in the rental fee of studios and ‘shooting' houses

CHENNAI: At a time when big-budget films are becoming the norm in Kollywood and corporate players are signing up for multi-crore films, small-budget producers, who are keen on cutting down the cost, are grappling with the growing shooting expenses in the city.

The studios, which have been the first choice of many filmmakers working on city-centric subjects, are increasing the costs periodically to meet the growing maintenance expenses.

“There has been a 20 per cent increase in the rental fee of studios and other houses that are let out for shooting. Food has become one of the major expenses for producers,” a source in the film industry said.

“It now cost around Rs.20,000 a day for food, a little less or more depending on the size of the unit. It is almost a 50 per cent increase from what the expenditure was in 2008,” he said.

For those producers who find outdoor shooting expensive, tourist destinations on East Coast Road are seen as the ideal locations. V.G.P. Universal Kingdom, an amusement park on ECR, has been serving as an idyllic location for many film shoots. From Rs.500 a day in 1975, the rent has now touched Rs.15,000 at the amusement park.

“Nearly 6,000 films have been shot here. As outdoor shoots cost extremely high and it is very difficult to find greenery in the city, producers prefer locations like this. Beach sequences in most films are shot here as we ensure safety and privacy,” said its Managing Director V.G.P.Ravidas.

The Tamil Film Producers Council president Rama Narayanan said the overall cost has been going up since a couple of years.

“It is a ripple effect, like for many other industries. There is also rise in wages for the technicians. But fortunately, the profit margin is also increasing for us, with mushrooming multiplexes,” he said.

A small-time producer, however, lamented that the budget has to be stretched due to the rise in cost of food and rental rates. Many producers have to compensate by booking not-so-popular artistes for their films, he said.

Chennai Theatre Owners' Association president Abirami Ramanathan observes that the city is now home to many new locations that are perfect for film shoots and television serials.

“Houses that are converted into makeshift studios offer cheaper options. One cannot do much to control the rise in expenses as it is due to a combination of factors,” he said.

Film Employees Federation of South India president V.C.Guhanathan concurred with him.

“There might be further increase following the budget announcements. But the effect is yet to be felt.”

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