In a day and age where filmmakers are churning out films by a dozen, there exists the very revolutionary concept of ‘India Film Project’, which happens to be a breakthrough initiative by the ‘highly intellectual’ Ritam Bhatnagar. Through the medium of ‘India Film Project’ which happens to be an annual filmmaking competition in India, all the participants get 50 hours to make their film, post which, a panel of judges selects award winners.

Satish Sundaresan of KoiMoi met up with the ‘man with a competitive acumen’ Ritam Bhatnagar for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts:

Ritam Bhatnagar
Ritam Bhatnagar

In a nutshell, what exactly is ‘India Film Project’?
Ritam
: The ‘India Film Project 2017’ (IFP) is the largest content creation event in Asia. Entering its seventh edition this year, the ‘IFP’ festival will be a two-day event -30th Sep and 1st Oct 2017, at the Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai. Over 29,000 filmmakers are expected to get together to create over 1500 films as a part of the festival. There are also workshops, screenings and talks by experts from the film and digital entertainment industry at the festival. The IFP festival is unique in the sense that it is the only festival for filmmakers where they can create rather than just consume video content. The festival will also witness India’s first award for digital videos and content – best of digital awards. Over 5500 nominations have already been received under various award categories for the awards.

When and where did the idea of having such a unique film fest germinate?
Ritam: There are several platforms for content consumption like film festivals. I wanted to create an opportunity for something more, thus the flagship concept of 50 Hour filmmaking contest. Over the years, we have added several other activities that would attract content creators.

This time, the entries have come from Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kerala and Ahmedabad. Are there any plans to go international?
Ritam: For the last few years, we have been receiving entries from several nations. This year, we have received entries from 18 countries including Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, UAE, Pakistan and China among others. IFP has become a destination for content creators across the world.

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What has been the kind of participants who have participated in the India Film Project?
Ritam: We have over 29,000 filmmakers, who are expected to get together to create over 1500 films as a part of the festival. We have participation coming from 18 countries and over 250 cities of the country.

How has been the response to India Film Project from the showbiz fraternity?
Ritam: I have been taking the concept to people in the film and digital entertainment industry and with each passing year, the response is getting more and more encouraging. The content creators – professional, amateur or experimental are increasing and need a platform for networking and felicitation.

You also organise ‘Talk Shop’. Can you tell us a bit about that as well?
Ritam: ‘Talk Shop’ is India’s first web coffee show with film directors. The show, featuring some of the people like Sujoy Ghosh, Konkona Sen Sharma, Shakun Batra, Ram Madhvani and six other directors is aimed at showcasing the other side of filmmakers. The first season recently ended and the team is beginning efforts for the second season.

This year will be your seventh edition. What has the last six years of organising India Film Project taught you?
Ritam: Planning is the key to a great event. We are much better planned with rigorous detailing. When I remember the first edition, the IFP team has come a long way.

‘India Film Project’ will also witness India’s first award for digital videos and content – Best Of Digital Awards. How has been the response for that?
Ritam: In spite of it being the first time that the award in the digital space are being given away, we got over 5500 nominations for videos for different categories.

Is it true that through the medium of India Film Project, you are aiming to encourage people to tell stories through their camera?
Ritam: It’s not just camera. There are workshops for acting and script writing. We have experts in the field of advertising, music and comedy. IFP looks at all kind of content.

In what way do you think that the mobile phones and internet have helped in content creation?
Ritam: Everyone has a story to tell! Mobile phones and Internet have made it easy for people to share and publish their work and build an audience. It is also helping them consume content with a tap on their screens.

What are the kinds of workshops that you are planning to have?
Ritam: We have something for everyone. ‘Master Class’ on acting by ‘Actor Prepares’, ‘Crowd Funding For Digital Content’ by Kunal Kapoor; ‘Casting For Web’ by Mukesh Chhabra; ‘Short Script Writing’s Complete Narrations’ by ‘Terribly Tiny Tales’; and ‘Masterclass’ on Post Production by Neil Sadwelkar.

Lastly, why did you change the name from ‘Ahmedabad Film Project’ to ‘India Film Project’?
Ritam – AFP was receiving entries from across the country and we realised that, what started off as a small project had the potential of getting much bigger. It was an obvious choice of moving it to the entertainment capital of India – Mumbai and renaming it to ‘IFP’ for a wider appeal.

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