Independent Filmmakers In India -An Insight

TWALKITOUT: Independent filmmakers in India should be given a chance and space to showcase their style of cinema, says Saeed Akhtar Mirza, award-winning director of the 1980 cult movie “Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Ata Hai”.

The do-it-yourself movement has revolutionized filmmaking and made it feasible for independent filmmakers in India to make movies. As we watch Youtube becoming a stage to showcase talent, people with added passion and vision want to go far beyond that. Indian cinema on the contrary has stood up parallel to the global trends growing up as a uniform looking mesh of un-organized sector. Blending in the professionally trained with the high endeavored is illuminating the mosaic of rather modern filmmaking.

Curious to know more about independent filmmakers in India, our following conversation with Rajeev Thakur, Snow Leopard Productions, gives a better insight of his shot at ‘Indie Cinema’. He enjoys making unique videos for music bands helping them project their music visually, apart from the main stream filmmaking. ‘Twalk It Out’ will come up with more of his work soon.

At what age or time in life did film making cross from a hobby to something more serious?

Rajeev- I was working with ‘Capital One’ bank UK and I was made redundant because of the final crunch in 2008. For me it was a blessing in disguise as it has opened a door for me to get out of my routine life and pursue what I always dreamt of, that’s story telling by audio-visual means.

What and when was your first action of pursuing a filmmaking career after high school?

Rajeev- It didn’t occur till early part of 2009 when I enrolled myself at International Academy for film and television in Cebu, Philippines. I graduated in 2010

How did you finance your first feature/short film?

Rajeev- I self-funded my first short film that I made during my curriculum at IAFT Cebu. It was a four Minute MOS (Mit-out-sound), MOS means no dialogue.

How would you define the actual role that a director is supposed to fill?

Rajeev- Director is the captain of a ship, He is a leader. He is the driving creative force in a film’s production and acts as the crucial link between the production, technical and creative teams. Director is responsible for creative translation of the film’s written script into actual images and sounds on the screen. He must visualize and define the style and structure of the film, then act as both a storyteller and team leader to bring this vision into reality.  He is also involved in casting, script editing, shot composition, shot selection and editing.

What kind of salary would a director expect to make in the independent scene, or is it completely dependent on the success of the movies?

Rajeev- It’s like hand to mouth, I know it sounds crazy but its truth until your film gets sold nobody gets much. Indie cinema is about crazy story telling where studios and financiers get scared in investing their cash. Indie filmmakers are not worried about the commercial aspect of a film, they care more about the creative aspect.

What limitations does a movie director have, in example can he also work as an editor or cinematographer as well as a director on a film?

Rajeev- Director should know every aspect of the film making, director can be an editor, and it’s a magical combination if he knows the craft well, if he is critical about the shots. But there can be a drawback as well, as he might want to use each and every shot that he likes which can impede the story telling in film.

It’s tricky for a director to take care of direction and camera at the same time. But sometimes in indie films which has a shoe string budget and skeleton crew, director may also handle camera if he is good. Mainly the job of director is to get the acting done from an actor. Well, I personally feel you shouldn’t mix two things in film making.

Are college courses necessary, and if so, where did you go?

Rajeev- I think it is a very important aspect, because I have learned the craft of film making at film school. But if you don’t have funds available then you should assist someone in film industry or an indie film maker to learn the skills. I went to IAFT Cebu.

Relatively how hard is it to “make it” in Hollywood, and what skills help this?

Rajeev- It’s relatively difficult but for me Cinema is cinema not Hollywood-Bollywood. You just focus on good film making and storytelling. There are film industries beyond Hollywood and that make awesome cinema.  Recently there has been such a change in the technology that it has made film making a realistic goal.

What are some qualities in yourself and others that make one suitable for film directing?

Rajeev- I think I’m a good story teller.  I have an ability to improvise, have artistic literacy, I can pre-visualize both in imagination and on paper, I’m disciplined as a film maker and also a risk taker. You could say I’m courageous.

What’s the best advice you could give someone new to filmmaking?

Rajeev- I want to repeat great visionary Steve Job’s ending comments at Stanford Commencement in 2005 ‘ stay hungry and stay foolish’.

(photo credits:


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Anuj Sharma

I am based out of Shimla. Writing is my passion, and a part of my livelihood. I started writing here almost 3+ years ago and couldn't stop ever!! Apart from Twalkitout, I run an E-Commerce consulting Company named Omex E-commerce Pvt. Ltd. out of Shimla.

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