Crowd-funded film ‘Lucia’ depended on the kindness of strangers

September 20, 2013

When filmmaker Pawan Kumar wrote an anguished blog post about not having enough money to make a movie, he didn’t expect hundreds of strangers to lend him their savings, no questions asked.

Eighteen months after that post — called “Making Enemies” — went viral, Kumar’s Kannada-language feature film “Lucia” opened in Indian cinemas.

The film, a thriller about an insomniac usher in an old theatre, earned 10.6 million rupees (about $170,000) in ticket sales in its first week in cinemas, outperforming its production budget of around 6 million rupees (about $95,000). The film’s television rights were sold for an additional 10 million rupees.

“Before writing that blog, I had spent two or three months trying to get someone’s attention,” said Kumar, who has acted in Kannada films and directed the 2011 film “Lifeu Ishtene”.

“Around 10 days after I put up the post, a lady from the UK transferred 200,000 rupees (around $3,200) to my account. Soon, I had around 800,000 to 900,000 rupees in my account. That is when I realized I was on to something,” said the 30-year-old filmmaker.

The backers of the entirely crowd-funded film are going to get their money back, he said.

Shooting on a shoestring wasn’t easy, and the filmmaker warned his cast they would not get coffee on the set “six times a day” or chauffeurs to drive them. Strangers also offered their services in other ways, as extras, or by offering their houses or cars for “Lucia”.

“The film looks like a 3 crore (30 million) rupee film, but it looks good because we didn’t have to pay for a lot of things,” said Kumar.

“Lucia” was also released by PVR Pictures in some cinemas outside Karnataka, fetching around 800,000 rupees ($13,000) from 13 screens in the first three days.

“The film is a genuinely good indie, which doesn’t always happen. It’s an out-of-the-box film that can continue on in screens outside Karnataka,” said Shiladitya Bora, who heads PVR Director’s Rare, the indie arm of the multiplex chain.

Kumar says many movie producers who refused to fund “Lucia” are now trying to get him to direct their projects.

“It’s tricky. I don’t know if I can do a studio film now. I need to sit down and figure it out,” he said.

(Follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay)


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I watched twice. Superb Indian movie.

Posted by GVS | Report as abusive

Good one Shilpa

Posted by VikramK | Report as abusive