I resigned my job in June 2015. It took me 5 years since to make my debut feature film. Hence I thought it might be a good time to look at what the past 5 years looked like and what the future 5 years would be like.
Though I call myself a full time filmmaker, please don’t think I’m making a living out of it yet. For some numbers, I have perhaps earned ₹50,000 – ₹1,00,000 from filmmaking as a profession, throughout the whole 5 years. Yes it is a struggle, a struggle worth wading through.
The Past 5 Years
I knew I would need a few years away from other works to figure out my things and to develop my skills. So I had been saving every rupee I could while I was working as a software engineer.
We used to get around ₹20,000 in hand. Around the time I was resigning, maybe around ₹30,000. I’d make my best efforts to put aside at least half of that every month. When I resigned I had around ₹4,00,000 in hand. My colleagues said that was impossible.
I didn’t know then that I wanted to be a filmmaker. Perhaps something in the arts. I knew I could write well. I had to let go of my then girlfriend. Her parents wanted to get her married and I couldn’t ask her to wait. I had no clue what I was going to do with my life then. So I had to watch her get married to someone else.
I went hitchhiking across the 4 corners of India for 6 months, soul searching. The travelogues I wrote during those times had a huge viewership. Which made me decide to come back.
The plan was to write stories, get published, assist some of them while they got turned into film, and in 5 or 10 years make my own film.
All the traveling cost only ₹50,000. Yes a low budget travel. I had brought a laptop for editing videos while I travelled. It is on that I am writing this. That took a ₹1,50,000 out of my saving.
With the remaining ₹2,00,000 I was able to last for 2 years because I moved back in with my parents. Thankfully food and stay was hence taken care of. There was no girlfriend waiting or loans to replay. The only expenses was when I needed to go out. And I cut down all my travelling.
Learning Filmmaking for The Past 5 Years
And so I brought myself the time to learn filmmaking everyday. Found others interested in filmmaking through workshops I attended. We made 10 short films and learned making mistakes of our own. I assisting a couple of shorts and Ads, which led to assisting Ottamuri Velicham (last year’s Kerala’s best film award), which led onto another feature film assisting gig. In between a short film that I did won an award from Padma Vibhushan KJ Yesudas.
All my shorts films were made with minuscule budgets, in the range of ₹5,000 to ₹15,000. Even the feature films that I assisted was made for ₹20,00,000 to ₹50,00,000. Whereas a normal feature film costs average around ₹2,00,00,000 here.
All of these low budget experiences were to be an asset later. It is these that gave me the confidence to make my own debut feature film for ₹5,00,000. So went 5 years of my life and Munnariv happened.
In the next post I’ll talk about what the future 5 years would be like.