Fund a National Institute of Design Student Graduation Film

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Story

From as far back as I can go back in memory lane, I have had a fascination for stories. Stories in all shapes, sizes, forms and through various mediums.

Stories that stemmed from my own experiences or hearsay, or the ones that I made my own after finding them in books, TV shows or films. 

Film to me is a fantastic medium that can entertain, educate and bring about tangible social change. One of the few mediums to engage more than one sense, if and when used wisely, its reach can be humongous and impact, wide. It is this medium, combined with other skills that I have acquired along my journey that I wish to both implement and test with my Graduation Film. 

Writing this film has been a tough but very enriching journey for me and having written a script I believe in, the next step is to do everything to turn into my vision. Which is why, I have collaborated with colleagues from various disciplines of film and am now ready to shoot the film in the first week of July.
This film is close to my heart for several reasons- it is inspired from a personal experience and is being shot in my grandparent's home in a small village called Tewali, about 80 kms from Jodhpur. We have the space for shooting the film available to us, but everything else is where we will require the necessary funds.

Your contribution will help us with travel, food and accommodation for the cast & crew, equipment rental, post production and a small part for sending the film to festivals and screenings. The primary purpose of the film is to however help me graduate from my 2.5 year Masters Degree course in Film & Video Communication from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

You can view details about the course here- NID FVC

Why am I making this film?  

The world around us today is in a state of chaos. Whether you're reading a newspaper, browsing your social media account or talking to people around, it's easy to say that we are all turning into cynics.

Quite honestly, I was tired of turning into one.

Which is why, I've worked on a story that draws inspiration from everyday living and finding joy in the ordinary doings of our mundane lives, seen through the eyes of 5 year old Amu who believes, dreams and dances to her own tune.

If you're ever in need of some inspiration, go sit with your five year old self and have a conversation, Trust me, it will be one of the best conversations you will have and it will inspire you to see life around you in a new way. This is precisely what I have tried to do while writing this film.

Children have a simple view of things around them, which is what I have tried to capture as the essence of the film.

In this world ridden with bias, cynicism and hatred; there is always friendship, magic and hope to fall upon and that is what the film is about.

You can view some of my previous work here-
A glimpse of my work
A short documentary made by me

What is the film about?

The film is about 5 year old Amu who moves with her mother from the city to a small town in Rajasthan to live with her grandmother. Each of the three women have not chosen to be together but circumstances and Amu’s father’s financial troubles have made it happen.

Away from the city she grew up in, Amu starts to warm up to the new setting, but not without creating an escape for herself in an imaginary friend who accompanies her on most of her escapades. Amu’s mother, not in the least pleased with the turn of events, tries hard to stay out of her mother-in-law’s way and seldom strikes a conversation with her. Apart from her desire for freedom, her only dream is to send Amu to a good English medium school and give her everything that she did not receive in her childhood.

As they start to reluctantly settle down in the Haveli, things start to change and Amu and her mother fall into the rhythm of life in the haveli. Soon, Amu’s father sends a money order so that Amu can be admitted to an English medium school, and on Amu’s first day of school she meets and befriends a girl with the same name as her imaginary friend.

The film is a peek into the lives of these three women.

Amu’s grandmother, 68 year old Sugno Devi finds her solace in the mundaneness of everyday things. Having lived through the majority of her life with many ups and downs, she doesn’t depend on anyone anymore and is a woman of few words, but many expectations. Although she comes across as someone who is invincible in the beginning caught up with the crisis of everyday existence, Amu brings out a more humane side of hers as the film progresses.

Amu’s mother, 31 year old Sudha is a woman torn apart by circumstances. If she could choose, she would be anywhere but with her mother-in-law who she sees as a tyrannical oppressor of her freedom and the lifestyle showered upon her as a blessing by the big city. Apart from the absence of her husband, Sudha is also worried about not being a good mother and denying her daughter the one thing that she ought to give her- education from a good, English medium school. Having grown up in Rajasthan as a female and herself denied opportunities in life, she now aims high for her little girl but loses hope with the financial crisis and Amu’s obsession with an imaginary friend only adds to her anxiety and trauma making her believe more and more as the days pass that Amu is either turning senile or is possessed.

5 and a half year old Amu does not see the world with biases but with her own unique vision and shares it with her imaginary friend. She explores the new surroundings oblivious of the trauma that her mother is going through, or the adjustments her grandmother has to make to accommodate them in her life. As she starts life afresh in the small town, she finds her escape in the company of her imaginary friend and the newborn calf in the house, the intriguing spiders, an invisible peacock and her incomprehensible grandmother who she manages to break through with her innocence.

The film is about survival, and coping up with the ordinary while hoping that things would change in one’s favour. Each of the three characters take us on their own journey of desire seen through their unique perspectives. In the end, they all get what they want in some way, but is it really what they wanted?  


What do you get? 

Honestly, the biggest thing you can get out of helping us is the satisfaction of helping a team of people who believe in what they are doing and bring a creative vision to life. There are no amount of perks that I can offer that will ever take place of the good wishes we will send your way. However, your contribution will not go completely unnoticed. You can choose your contribution based on the perks, if you wish.

My student journey as a filmmaker has been a long, tough journey and a wonderful learning experience and as I can see it, it gets only better and better. So help me make the best of it.

Whatever your contribution be, your name will be acknowledged in the credits of the film along with a few other incentives such as keeping an important part of the film's props, posters and postcards made by young, talented artists of the country, DVDs of the film and a few other simple, yet exciting rewards.

But, above all will be the fact that we will forever be indebted to you for your support in helping a student filmmaker realize her dream.

Why do we need you?

Student films often run into no-man’s land due to lack of funds. Producers don’t want to be a part of such a project with little or no commercial viability and the ones who want to, will push the filmmaker towards commercially viable films (YouTube audience films), which may often not be the intent of the filmmaker. 
As you may be well aware about the commercial success of films in India, it takes massive production budgets for that to be achieved. And fresh content, cast and crew are often questioned and don’t find backing easily. To have the freedom to experiment and express myself freely, I choose the platform of crowdfunding and am reaching out to you for the same. 

A little can really go a long way. 

Even if you do not wish to contribute, just passing this message to 5 people can really help us make this film, every bit the film it deserves to be. A lot goes into making a film; beginning from a suitable story to the locations, actors, crew, and immense amount of sweat, tears and (sometimes) blood to make it all happen. I hope you can see some merit in the story and its need to be told in the format of film. 

What will your money be used for?

Most of the cast and crew have agreed to volunteer for the project. So the money will be used for- 

-CAST - 

Despite this being a student film, I feel obliged to pay my actors as I think it is only ethical to give them a minimum remuneration for their service; apart from their travel, stay and food. Just like any of us, I feel an actor is also struggling to pay his/ her bills and keep their passion alive for what they do. 

This will cost me about 8% of the film's budget.

I have three main characters in the film, being played by three wonderful women. 

Usha Nagar is a Rajasthani theatre artiste who also does character roles in films and ads. She is a wonderful human being who has agreed to work with us at a minimum cost just so that students like us can realize our potential to the fullest. She plays dadi (grandmother) to Amu's character and has a very important role in the film.


Avni Sethi is a dancer, activist (founder of Conflictorium, Ahmedabad) and a woman to reckon with. She has also graciously agreed to work on the film having previously worked with me on another project, a link to which is below.  Avni performs pieces that imbibes dance, music and storytelling in a unique way.She plays the role of Amu's mother in the film.

You can view her Facebook page here​​​.

Kaale Sawan​​​

The child actor for the film is 6 year old Shambhavi, a class 1 student from Jodhpur who was a find in an acting workshop taken by me to for this project, She not only surprised us, but also her family and teachers becoming the most suitable to play the role of 5 year old Amu. You will have to wait and watch to see what she does on screen :)


- OTHER REQUIREMENTS -

  • CREW 
Most of the crew members have graciously agreed to work as volunteers on the film, hoping to make something we all believe in and can be proud of. These are mostly fellow student filmmakers from across the country, who share my passion and want to bring this small but poignant story alive.

My responsibility towards them is that they reach the location comfortably and are fed well and taken care of on the shoot, which I feel is the least I can do for them. 

This will cost about 10% of the budget.

  • FOOD & CONVEYANCE
Having worked on several student projects, I have learned one thing- a crew that is fed well, fares well. (no exceptions on serving quality food and water to all members of the crew and cast). Apart from that travel to the location and other diesel/ petrol expenses. 

This will be about 5% of the budget.

  • EQUIPMENT RENTALS
We are not provided with any equipment from the institute for our final project and hence have to hire everything from camera, lenses, monitoring equipment, sound recorder, microphones to professional lights, generators, and everything else needed on the set. Good equipment will help us achieve our imagination of the film to its fullest and although an iPhone can be used to shoot a film these days, we will require professional cameras and setup to achieve the 'film' look.

This will be about 40% of the film's budget.

  • PRODUCTION COSTS
Minor thing with major consequences like props, batteries, supplies, diesel for the generator etc. without which one cannot function.

This will cost about 5% of the film's budget.

  • COSTUMES
Most of the costumes will be from the actor’s wardrobes, or borrowed from our mother's closets, but in certain circumstances, buying will be essential. This will (hopefully) be a very small % of the budget, if at all.

  • POST PRODUCTION
My learning so far has also been that a good film doesn’t only have a good script, and good production, but also impeccable post production work that includes Editing, Sound Design and Color Correction/ Grading. These are things I am not equipped to handle at my end and require the services of people with the skills and systems to make the final magic happen. 

To ensure the final film is as good as it is on paper, this will cost about 30% of the film's budget.

  • FESTIVAL SUBMISSIONS
One of the most popular ways to get noticed with a student film is to send it to festivals across the world. Unfortunately, the overall cost to send your film to such festivals includes a festival entry fee (sometimes), cost of shipping of DVDs to locations around the world.

If we can raise more money than what we require to make the film, I would love to have the film showcased around India and the world, if possible in the hope that our efforts are noticed and validated. 

If we do not (I hope not), reach the target amount, we will have to cut back on post production costs, which will be a disaster as an unfinished film is no good. So help us reach our goal! 
What each of our backers can expect from us, irrespective of what they donate, is the following-

-LIVE updates from the set with photos, videos and other small anecdotes to make you feel as you are right there with us
- Updates through the course of the campaign to let you know the progress, pitfalls (if any) and general momentum of the film
- Invitation to be at the screening of the film at NID, Ahmedabad
- A personal thank you note and social media shout out to each of our contributor
- A SPECIAL presentation with the story, your contribution with your picture and production stills that you can share with your family, friends and colleagues

Thank you for your time, effort and money :)

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Beneficiary: Akkta Panwar info_outline