The internet these days is witnessing a boom in visual content in terms of amateur short films that are fast gaining popularity. However, for many of these films to be made in a way that realises the director’s vision, there is a lack of basic technology and human-power. Having perceived this deficiency, Student Filmer, a Chennai-based start-up has decided to bridge the gap between these necessities and the passionate filmmaker.
The initiative started off two years ago as a digital magazine consisting of blog pieces on the process of making films and its theories. The founders slowly realised that for someone interested in films, the ultimate challenge would be to actually make a film. Student Filmer has since evolved into a platform that helps in the execution of an amateur filmmaker’s idea by helping them tackle challenges of funding, limited knowledge of filmmaking and other production issues.
Not just the production process, Student Filmer helps with pre and post production work too. The technical support provided includes cameras like 5Ds and Go Pros, lights and audio equipment like microphones. The company currently concentrates on filmmakers in Chennai and Coimbatore who make most of their films in Tamil, although they don't restrict filmmakers from other languages from approaching them.
This initiative, called the Production Program, is in partnership with Lens Tiger, a camera rental company in Chennai. Steering clear of outside funding, Student Filmer’s revenue depends upon the money earned through renting this equipment.
Speaking to TNM, Joe Arputhan, co-founder and Creative Head of the company said, “The primary aim is to help amateurs make quality films. But, we are not a production house. We do not fund films but only help in their making. Our organisation is like a combination of a film school and a production management company.”
He added, “As the filmmakers are mostly college students, they function on a limited budget. Student Filmer shows them how to spend smartly and achieve their objectives in that budget frame”.
The acclaimed director of “Mission: Impossible”, Brian De Palma, once said about student films that the biggest mistake in them is “that they are usually cast so badly with friends and people the directors know”.
In order to make sure that this is avoided, and the filmmaker gets the right set of people to form his cast and crew, Student Filmer connects them with the required people. Thus, a director looking for an editor or a cinematographer and vice versa could easily find one through this process. The members split the equipment renting costs amongst themselves, making the expenses borne individually much less.
The selected scripts go through a process of careful screening. According to Joe, people usually approach them with scripts or even rudimentary ideas. The scripts are then read through by professional freelance writers and changes as and when required are suggested. Ideas too are converted into scripts using the writer’s help.
Currently, there are five films in production and six more have been completed. These six films are competing in their in-house competition, SF Knockout, where the top three stand a chance to be screened in one of the premiere theatres in Chennai and are also put up on their recently- launched video platform on the website.
When asked if the films are going to be uploaded on other popular video- sharing websites like YouTube and Vimeo, Joe says, “As of now, we are only putting up content on our platform. These carefully made films might be lost in the flood of videos that are put out on other platforms every day. Hence we are figuring out ways in which we can make our own website popular so the films are noticed by the right people who can comment on the technical aspects as well."