Tuesday, July 15, 2008

of dvds and distribution and self-propagated piracy

Two days ago, Ba called to say that a little girl in Baroda has watched 'Lilkee' 50 times. She asked her grandfather to write a letter to Bhai (since Bhai is a well-known author and features writer in Gujarat, his address is not hard to come by) that whenever Aiman went to Baroda, the little girl would like to take her to the ashram where she watched the film with other children in a camp.

Through the last 1 & 1/2 years, we've received many such calls, at odd times of the day or evening, from people we don't know, who want to talk to us about the film.

I feel happy, as who wouldn't? It's a different thing, showing the film to family, friends or acquaintance and completely different to have it seen by complete strangers. The response from strangers is untainted by any need to be polite, or kind, or encouraging. They bother to call because they have something to say.

Yet, at the same time, I also feel frustrated. Making a film takes a minimum of 2 years from your life. From story to final print. And all the administrative work later, getting a censor certificate, work stills, publicity material and so on. To make a film and have it stacked in the godown of the Children's Film Society is even more frustrating.

They have been showing the film around. But of course, they don't bother to let the director know where and when they have shown it. I got a call from someone in Hyderabad, who said they had seen it at the Children's Film festival there. If I had known it was going there, I might have liked to go with it myself.

There is no commercial distribution of course. I know friends have tried to get distributors interested in their film, but commercial exhibitors and distributors balk at the idea of dealing with the bureaucracy of the CFSI.

Last week, I received what I presume was a mass mailer to all the people who had ever worked with CFSI, that we weren't supposed to send our film to festivals, or to any distributors, channels, etc. Any such negotiation would be undertaken by CFSI itself. In short, we ought to forget about our films, completely.

In the face of this blank wall, I have been distributing DVDs to friends and family, and hoping for them to show it around as much as they can, and like to. At least, that way, people see my work. So, in effect, I am pirating my own film.

But CFSI when asked to sell DVDs to an institution, last year, which was interested in a 100 copies replied that they had not yet made DVDs, and not yet fixed a price on them.

So, arrest me.