By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 20 Jul: Satish Sharma, Film Consultant, Actor, Location Man, former Member of the Uttarakhand Film Development Council, as well as Editor and Publisher of Garhwal Post, has submitted a memorandum related to the proposed film policy of the state to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
He has recalled his efforts over the years to promote Uttarakhand as a filming destination through his company, Enchanting Himalaya. Over the past 15 years, Enchanting Himalaya has made its presence felt in Bollywood through seminars, stalls and personal meetings with top filmmakers, convincing them to consider Uttarakhand a serious filming option.
The efforts bore fruits when big banners began shooting in the state. With his personal experience, both, as an actor and journalist based out of Uttarakhand, he is convinced that the stage is ready to start a new chapter in film-making beneficial to the hill folk.
He suggests that a carefully chalked out film policy is the need of the hour, to inject new synergy in a scenario where Bollywood is looking for new horizons.
He has made certain suggestions based on diverse opinions expressed by those from ground zero:
1. As mandated by the original policy there should not be more than seven nominated members and one vice chairman in the Film Board. Big names from Mumbai hardly have time to steer the board, therefore the Vice Chairman should be based out of Uttarakhand with a heart that beats for the state. A single screen cinema exhibitor should also be a Member.
2. In the manner of incentives provided to Indian film makers by the United Kingdom and many other countries and Indian states, 100 % tax benefits like GST return to those filming 75% portion of the movie in Uttarakhand must be introduced. This is to be granted only after the film has procured the Censor Certificate and after the release of the film. This should be applicable to regional, any Indian or International film.
3. Unconditional governmental support should be granted to single screen theatres to save them from ruination in all of Uttarakhand. Their revival should be ensured. People should be encouraged to open new multiplexes and single screen theatres in the state, especially in the hills.
4. Charging any kind of fee from filmmakers is ill-advised, especially when the state is not offering them any facility. Further, money charged by institutions such as FRI for shooting in their premises is exorbitant and should be done away with completely. They get more than adequate return from the publicity they earn.
5. Due to widespread prevalence of the Corona pandemic in Mumbai and Maharashtra, Bollywood producers are eager to move out of Maharashtra to shoot their films in suitable green zone areas of the country. Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand are good options for most filmmakers. Many filmmakers have shown interest in Uttarakhand in this regard.
6. The lockdown due to Corona also led to interim closure of cinema theatres across the country. For this reason, producers whose films had been completed were releasing over the digital medium. Since films are being watched and appreciated by viewers on digital platforms, the future of the digital format is bright. In Uttarakhand, the producers wishing to produce films have demanded that the subsidy be applied to the films released on the digital platform too. In the current film policy of Uttarakhand, films being released on the digital platform are not being subsidised. Apart from this, parallel to the films, web series have also become a big industry and this format is rapidly gaining popularity.
7. Currently no subsidy is applicable to the web series and TV serials. Well established filmmakers associated with the film industry are demanding that the subsidy be applied to the web series as well. Apart from this, the cost of film production has increased rapidly due to various reasons. Therefore, there is a reasonable demand of the film industry to increase maximum subsidy on films from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 2 crore. This step of the government could definitely prove to be a major contribution in making Uttarakhand a favourite location for films.
8. Also, casting of local artistes should be compensated. In Jharkhand, the state government pays Rs Fifty Lakhs besides subsidy if the filmmaker casts at least 10 local actors, which includes 2 actors in the primary cast.
The Uttarakhand government is going to bring a new film policy soon. The Uttarakhand Film Development Council (UFDC) under the Information Department has prepared a draft of the new policy. The department has put it on the public forum. Suggestions are being sought from people and all stakeholders on this till 30 July. After final drafting, it will be handed over to the government. The purpose of this policy is to woo the artists as well as those investing in Uttarakhand in film production.
According to the Nodal Officer of UFDC, KS Chauhan, in the new film policy, many provisions are included for incentives to investors and artists.