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Short films as a sustainable business – it is for real!

When Bollywood decided to celebrate 100 years of Indian Cinema, a young producer by name Ashi Dua, pulled together 4 great directors to do an anthology called Bombay Talkies. The four directors were Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Zoya Akhtar. All the four of them were given 1.5 crores each to make their short films. Imagine how Karan and Zoya must have felt with the budgets, however, they managed to make it and the anthology was a smash hit.

Bombay talkiesThe fact is, none of them were struggling short film makers and they pulled these four short films into a feature and believe me; every minute of that movie was worth it. Bollywood wasn’t particularly enthused about celebrating the 100 years, considering the fact that none of the biggies came out to do anything about it.

This made a lot of people skeptical about this film, but Bombay Talkies was a revelation of sorts, with great directors, cast, and storyline and it worked splendidly. In fact, this film was publicized on the strengths of the Directors, and not the stars. Unconnected short films put together as a feature, worked well with known directors.

This made me think that the short film industry should be able to sustain itself as a business. However, it was hard to come by as most short film makers are struggling with the budgets, which is as low as a lakh or two for their films. How do they find the strength to market or find screens?

Cut to Kollywood, where there is a large number of struggling short film makers and their aim was to gradually move towards feature films with their shorts as the platform. Many of them have made their transitions, but however, short films by themselves weren’t working as a business, and it was used only as a platform to go main stream. I put this thought to rest for a long time.

imagesRecently, I attended the launch of Stone Bench Creations, a technology startup in the entertainment industry founded by Director Karthik Subbaraj of Pizza and Jigarthanda fame. During the introduction, Karthik mentioned about his experience at a short film festival in Europe – apparently, he asked one of the European short film makers as to when he is doing his feature film. To that, the film maker responded that he did not have any idea of doing a feature film, and short films in Europe by themselves made a lot of business sense. You can be categorized as a short film maker and you don’t have to make the transition to mainstream, and still be successful as a film maker.

logoOne of the offerings of Stone Bench creations is Bench Flix, which addresses this need in the market. They are a hub for short films and they have options for revenue generation through releases in theaters, TV, in-flight entertainment and mobile entertainment. They have put together their first feature, which is a compilation of 6 short films that were submitted at Bench Flix. After all, I guess the Short Film Renaissance is really and truly happening and it is starting to make business sense as well.

What are you waiting for, pull out your cameras, bring out your creative self and make a short. You can be part of a feature film, for real.