Financing films

In a bid to promote locally made films, the government has recently announced the Goa Scheme of Financial Assistance for Films

By Samay Shetti

Goa Scheme of Financial Assistance for Films, more commonly known as the Film Finance Scheme, recently released the installment for the year 2018. As a continuation of the 2016 installment, the Film Finance Scheme 2018 will consider all films produced between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017.

The scheme is an effort by the government to promote the Goan film industry and boost the talented filmmakers of the state. It was first initiated back in 2005, but was revoked in 2010 amidst growing demands to restructure the scheme with respect to the quantum of financial assistance and certain clauses of the draft.  After a metamorphosis period of six long years, the scheme was finally re-initiated in the year 2016. The initiative is implemented by the government through the Entertainment Society of Goa.

The scheme includes various incentives and clauses to achieve the primary objective of providing financial assistance for production of films originating in Goa and to boost the image of the state of Goa in the film world. The Film Finance Scheme extends to feature films in Konkani and Marathi and non-feature films, including short films and documentaries in Konkani, Marathi, English and Hindi by film producers and/or co-producers who are registered with the Entertainment Society of Goa.

Filmmakers can apply for the scheme under three categories: A, B and C for feature films; and I, II and III for non feature films, based on various criteria. This grading is done by an evaluation committee consisting of not more than five members from the film fraternity outside Goa, with the approval of the state government. The committee includes stalwarts from different spheres of the film industry. For instance, the previous committee comprised of eminent personalities like Sachin Khedekar, director Amol Shetge, actor-director Vijay Damodar Kenkre, director-editor Sanjeev Naik and cinematographer Barun Mukherjee.

A total of 20 films were selected last year under different categories to avail the benefits. Nachom-ia-Kumpasar, Haanv Tum Tum Haanv, Paklo, Enemy?, Nirmonn, A Rainy Day and Baga Beach were in ‘A’ category. Chandi, Mortoo, Raktyug, Home Sweet Home 1, 2 and MMS fell into category ‘B’ while Mariola, Suring, Break Up, Gunaaji, and Prem At First Sight were in Category C. Pensou and Niragas were funded under Non-Feature films, graded I and III respectively.

According to the scheme, feature films in category A are eligible for reimbursement of ₹ 50 lakh or 50% of the total budget of production, whichever is less. Along the same lines, films under Categories B and C are entitled to ₹30 lakh and ₹10 lakh or 50% of the production cost respectively. For non feature films, the price slabs are in the range of ₹10 lakh ₹5 lakh and ₹3 lakh for categories I, II and III respectively or 50% of the production cost, whichever is less. Besides this, the film producer is also entitled to additional assistance of ₹20 lakh if the feature film wins a national award in the Best Film Regional category, ₹25 lakh if the film wins a national award in any other Best Film category, and ₹30 lakh if the feature film wins Golden Lotus Award at the National Film Awards or any international awards at a Film Festival recognised by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF). For those making non feature films, ₹7.50 lakh is granted if a film wins an award at an International Film Festival recognised by FIAPF and ₹5 lakh will be given if the film wins a national award. Films which do not fall under any of the said categories will not be entitled to any grants under the scheme.

The reconstituted draft has undergone many changes, the most prominent being the way in which the finances will be disbursed. While funds were earlier disbursed pre-production in numerous installments, as well as when the film was completed, funds will now only be released post production on receipt of Income Tax return receipts. Additionally, the scheme is open only to Goan producers, and a clause stipulates that 50% of the crew should be Goan and 50% of the film must be shot in Goa.

The scheme has received mixed reactions from the stalwarts of the industry. It was observed that when the earlier version of the scheme was in play, many applicants would collect funds and not release the film, or release a mediocre production. While the new clauses deal with this issue, producers can no longer benefit from financial support, which is critical in the initial stages of production.

Miransha Naik, director of the critically acclaimed feature film Zuze, shared their views saying, “The scheme is definitely very good for producers as it ensures at least some recovery of the invested amount for a quality film.” Speaking on the issues faced by filmmakers, Miransha added, “It’s very difficult for a producer to come out with a second movie, especially in Konkani as the viewership in the state is very less.” Using Zuze to illustrate his point, Miransha added, “More French people have seen this Konkani movie compared to Goans.” Reiterating this view, another member of the film fraternity, Siddharth Yaji, commented, “It is a very helpful scheme, provided the funds are sanctioned on time. We must also consider the small market and the absence of a serious Konkani film-watching culture.”

Another challenge faced by fraternity is the availability of technical expertise in the state. Illustrating this factor, Siddharth says, “There’s no industry; Goa does not have equipment a filmmaker would desire. We have to procure it from Mumbai, so there is no option of hiring locally. There are no full-time actors. If they are required for a film, they have to take leave from their regular jobs and many of them are unsure if this is viable, so it is difficult to get them to commit to films.”

Considering industry opinion, it is clear that while changes have addressed certain issues, others which have crept up need to be looked into. However, professionals agree that the situation is on the up. Siddharth Yaji avers, “For movies to attract audiences, filmmakers will have to constantly provide good cinema. The subsidy on its own won’t make a film; courageous producers will have to risk it, but the film scheme does give us an impetus and moral support”

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