Where it Began…

A first hand account of the crowd funding initiative from our Producer, Aruna Balkrishna Singh

” It was love at first sight.

It sounds funny but honestly one sound look was all it took for me to be excited and in love with this crazy idea. It was something no one in Indian documentary film making had tried before. But wasnt that the excitement?

It started in a dimly lit auditorium, filled with other hopefuls like me. I was irritated to begin with. I was missing the award ceremony of the 48hr film project Mumbai chapter, simply because Miriam would not take no for an answer. She just needed me to be at PVR Juhu at 8.30 am for a Dear Cinema Dialogue Series on Crowd Funding. The upside, I was to get to meet Sanjay Suri, Onir and Sudhir Mishra.

So, early one chilly morning, I trudged unwillingly and grouchily from Colaba to PVR making it on time for once. I cleared my registration and was in fact, one of the first people to waltz into the auditorium. I dutifully sat in the front row, knowing that Miriam would insist on a word-to-word account.

Surprisingly, the conversation started on time. Both Onir and Sanjay were punctual and stylishly turned out. They came across as knowledgeable, no-nonsense and succinct. My idle ogling soon turned to serious fascination as they took the entire audience through the novelle way they had raised funds for their upcoming film “I AM”. Suddenly, I found myself penning down ideas, regulations and tax liabilities as the potential of this funding stream got clearer. Trust me when I say, nothing really excites a Documentary Producer these days, but this one sure topped the list by a long wohoo…

Mustering my courage, I did manage to interrupt the scores of women wanting photos with the team. Sanjay Suri patiently heard me out and agreed to discuss it at length at a later date. We exchanged our coordinates and I dropped him an email. Nothing much happened after that except a cursory hi at the IFFI in Goa in November. I almost gave up hope. Here was a fabulous idea that could actually work but where was I to get first hand information on how?

One fine day, I did get the call. Despite my reservations that this could well be a crank call it did turn out to be Sanjay Suri who enquired about our documentary the Rat Race? I confessed my predicament, I had the idea but no true knowledge. .

Costa Coffee@Versova at 2 pm, Sanjay came in the door and got down to business. Over the course of 2.5 hours, he explained how and why and what nots of crowd funding and its potential for documentary cinema. It was easy to see he spoke with conviction, but was even more heartening to note that he was gracious enough to spend so much time with relative unknowns. Over that time, he made Ruchi, Jimmy and me understand what needed to be done, and left with a promise of being a call away when we needed help.

Armed with the knowledge, I met Paul (Director of filament Pictures and astute businessman) to convince him on how this was to work. He heard me out and finally  agreed – we did have a great idea.

From then now, thanks to Ruchi, Paul, Sanjay, here we are, in an actual Rat Race. This time to get to Cannes with a first to our credit….yes we can…..”

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