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A still from Pissasu

A still from Pissasu  

Only a professional approach can extend the careers of new-age directors and producers

The news of Iraivi overshooting its budget, with its presenter K.E. Gnanavel Raja alleging that the director had caused heavy losses to its producer C.V. Kumar, has created tension in the industry between producers and directors. It has also brought to fore the problem of films struggling to get completed within a budget.

Although movies going over budget are common in Kollywood, a 90-per cent overrun is high (as in the case of Iraivi), even by Kollywood standards. A leading film financier says, “One of the major issues plaguing the Tamil film industry is the budget overrun of even small-budget films that are supposed to be made for around Rs. 4 to 5 crore. A lot of the recent films made by the so-called new-age directors, known for the shoe-string budgets of their early films, have later turned out to be expensive propositions for the producer. They make films like commercial film directors, by bringing in stars, luxury caravans, hiring expensive gadgets (such as Jimmy Jib cranes and steadicams) in expensive locations, which result in spiralling costs. They should know that their films have a limited market.”

Leading distributors and exhibitors also point out another trend, wherein the new-age directors are influenced by urban themes. They cater to A-centre audiences in the three Cs – Chennai city, Coimbatore and Chengalpet – and their films do not collect in B and C centres. Says veteran producer, P.L. Thenappan: “Today’s directors have no planning regarding filmmaking. When I started out, the idea was to complete a film in the least number of shooting days. Those days, the producer was in control of the number of film rolls that could be used. In today’s digital age, I know directors who have shot five-hour films and later chopped it down. Film production requires a lot of planning. After the story, the budget is the most important factor to determine a film’s success.”

Director Mysskin, who is currently producing and acting in Savarakathi, explains: “I have directed eight films in the last eight years, and my films have been appreciated by the critics and the audiences. I have survived in this industry only because my films were made within a budget. I like to make a certain kind of aesthetic film, which is commercially viable only in a small market.”

Mysskin’s last release, Pissasu, was a commercial hit that made twice the money it cost. Now, he is making Savarakathi on a reasonable budget, which he believes will make the film profitable. He has not used steadicam or any crane shots during the shoot as, “it was not required in the storyline”.

Mysskin says, “Once I finish my script, I sit with my production designer, cameraman and other members of the team, to work out the budget to the last detail. I try my best to stick to my script and budget, though in some cases, like in Pisassu, I had to rope in Hong Kong-based stuntman Tony Leung Siu-Hung, as I felt international expertise on the climax action blocks could make a lot of difference. Luckily, producer Bala agreed, and the film worked at the box office, with the climax scene being one of the highlights.”

George Pius and Suresh Balajee’s Wide Angle Creations is one of the most successful production outsourcing companies in Kollywood. They have designed and executed more than a dozen Tamil films as executive producers for corporate and Mumbai-based producers. Says George Pius: “The key to our success is budgeting. We normally put together a project after the script is locked and do our homework on the budgets and then take it to a corporate or a producer for funding. To budget a film, complete knowledge of the script is necessary, and we have to work on it scene by scene. We also do an item-wise split of costs with the production designer, and make a working sheet with the cost of location, travel time, hotel and food cost incorporated into it, factoring in the number of days and equipment required.”

Meanwhile, Kollywood production for 2016 has touched 100 releases last Friday (June 10), even before half a year has been completed. The success rate is a dismal five to eight per cent, as more than 40 films lost out due to budget overrun.

And with the satellite market disappearing, producers and directors have to cut costs and realise that their market is limited to Tamil Nadu. A more professional approach to filmmaking is required for the current lot of producers and directors to survive.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 1:16:44 AM |

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