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Want to Make a Short Film? We Have Explained The Entire Economics Behind It

News18 logo News18 15-02-2021 Rohit Vats

In last decade or so, short films have started getting a lot of eyeballs. With tremendous help from YouTube, streaming apps and other similar hosting platforms, short films have shown a variety of content. However, the economics behind these films is still vague. Do these films make money? What happens to the better ones? Do filmmakers treat it as an investment for their better future?

a man and a woman taking a selfie: Want to Make a Short Film? We Have Explained The Entire Economics Behind It © Provided by News18 Want to Make a Short Film? We Have Explained The Entire Economics Behind It

We talked to filmmakers to understand how exactly the short films ecosystem works?

Hemant Gaba, who has directed award-winning short films—Supergirl, Japan in Nagaland—and feature films—Shuttlecock Boys, X-Past is Present—says it’s basically the foundation stone for a filmmaker’s career.

He says, “It’s basically to hone skills but in some cases short films also become passports to finding funds for feature films through festivals and award shows.”

Actor and voice over artist Pankaj Jha (Season’s Greetings, Balika Vadhu) looks at it in a detached way. He says, “The objective to make a short film is to give a strong message through a strong story point that leaves a very deep impact as it's short and easily accessible via mobile phone for anyone else.”

Jha says that most of the times the budget of such films is almost zero and the constraints can only be overcome by a futuristic approach. “If the short film is good in every aspect like camera, acting, good topic, good editing, sound and lighting then definitely it gets buyer on OTT platforms.”

Having worked in the medium for some years, Gaba has started realising the latent potential. He says, “In last some years, an ecosystem has also developed around short films. There are new agencies like Large Short Films and Terribly Tiny Talkies and they also give money to the makers. OTT platforms like Hotstar and Amazon Prime that are showcasing independent short films or anthologies.”

He continues, “Back in 2015, I made a short film titled Supergirl, which was approved by an agency that commissions 10 such films every year. These films are meant to teach kids life skills. Another example is PSBT-backed filmmaking challenge or 48-hour filmmaking challenge. Usually based around a theme, these competitions get filmmakers a good exposure.”

Jitendra Mishra, the producer of films like The Last Color and Human OAK, has been the person behind several film festivals. He seems to understand the market. He says, “Because of the growing interest of audience in short films, several digital platforms/avenues/apps are emerging and creating opportunities for the makers to recover money from short films, though it was very difficult even two years ago. Festival screening licensing fees is another possible source of revenue generation, several film festivals have huge budget to pay screening fees and even offer USD 400-500 for a short.

But all said and done, there isn’t any profitable business to consumer model for the short films, and most of it is because of the makers’ self-driven efforts.

Gaba correctly opines, “It’s less than 2-3% people who reach break-even. Even if the films are a hit on YouTube, it’s tough to make enough money through it.”

Jitendra Mishra wearing glasses and smiling at the camera © Provided by News18

In such a situation, will the makers leave the short films bandwagon? Mishra firmly says, “I will certainly keep making short films as it doesn’t need much of a budget, time and preparation like a feature. Also, it’s what we live for.”

With many award shows dedicated to shorts and documentaries, and anthologies getting enough appreciation on OTTs, the future might not be as tough as it was earlier for short filmmakers.

Also watch: Is Neha Dhupia's short film worth your time? | Step Out

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