The crowd matters

Bengaluru-based Malayali Seby Varghese has always been passionate about filmmaking and it was with the same vigour that he set out to make Unfateful, a 90-minute road movie shot with an iPhone 7+ on a

Published: 03rd June 2018 11:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2018 01:35 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI:Bengaluru-based Malayali Seby Varghese has always been passionate about filmmaking and it was with the same vigour that he set out to make Unfateful, a 90-minute road movie shot with an iPhone 7+ on a shoestring budget. As expected, the project used up all his resources, leaving him with the only option-launching a crowdfunding campaign to do the post-production of his movie. Days into the campaign at Wishberry, India’s largest crowdfunding platform with a 70% success rate for creative projects, the team managed to source a sum, as they inch closer to their target of 10 lakh.

Singer and composer Gowry Lekshmy’s tale is no different. She has been eyeing crowdfunding for her original music video ‘Aararo’.  Like the duo,  many Malayalis are exploring the option of crowdfunding to finance their creative projects. According to them, crowdfunding is the best option to source funds, so as to realise their dreams.  

According to Seby, it is the success of Oralpokkam, a movie by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan made with crowdfunding, that prompted him to explore the option. “I was inspired by how crowdfunding helped directors like Sanal Kumar Sasidharan and Sudevan realise their dream project. We have had a great response so far. And, this also helped take our project to a bigger level, which would have been impossible otherwise, due to our lack of connections with the mainstream industry,” says Seby.

This is ironic and encouraging at the same time, considering that crowdfunding as a financial model failed to gain much of a foothold in India. But, it has spelt success when it comes to art. Reason: Art is a social enterprise and the donors pay for something they are passionate about, making it more about the cause and less about the profit.  However, it is the small-time artists and filmmakers who benefit from the model.

For Gowry Lekshmi, the number of people who support her cause has only enriched her as an artist.  She adds that her experience so far is very positive. “The response I get in Instagram proves that. It’s very encouraging that more Malayalis are being aware of this. Using a crowdfunding platform makes it even better because it takes our project beyond the borders. But, challenges are still there, especially in marketing,” says Gowry.

Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, who successfully employed crowdfunding model to make his award-winning movie Oralpokkam, says this mode of seeking funds has always been there. “For independent filmmakers like me, this model has enabled our projects to see the light of day. Though crowdfunding for movies has always been there in other languages like Lucia (Kannada) and 44.43 (Kannada), the model is still in an infant stage here. For me, the crowd was mostly friends and their friends and family. But, not without its share of challenges, especially in marketing the movie. While it is relatively easy to use crowdfunding to finance a movie, it becomes very difficult to seek funds again for marketing it,
without which the project won’t be commercially viable. I don’t think awareness is the problem. Many even find it embarrassing to ask around for money. But, even then it is a great funding model for
artists,” says Sanal Kumar Sasidharan.

Crowdfunding vacations

Crowdfunding has always been a viable and popular option when it came to travel. An emerging generation of young travellers are crowdfunding their trips with the promise of perks for backers, and fueling the trend are homegrown crowdfunding websites like wishberry.in, ketto.org and fundmydream.in
Many people who venture on trips funded by others, pay back in the form of vlogs or photo albums of the trip. Ketto.org has raised over Rs 20 crores in crowdfunding out of which 10 per cent was for crowdfunded holidays.
However, each campaign requesting travel funds should be original and not an imitation of a previously successful campaign. It should also have an interesting storyline or a worthy cause.

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