The first Australian Indian Film Fund aims to bankroll one Australian feature and one TV series or documentary every 18 months, each with India-centric themes.
The fund was launched on Thursday by a group of Australian businessmen of Indian origin led by Sydney-based IT entrepreneur Devendra Gupta and CPA Yateendra Gupta (no relation).
IAFF has signed Fox Studios-based Films & Casting Temple to produce the Australian screen content, appointing Anupam Sharma as its Head of Films. Sharma founded Temple, a production, consultancy, and casting firm 13 years ago. His company has produced the short films Indian Aussies: Terms & Conditions Apply and SMS (Small Man Syndrome) and served as the line producer on multiple film, TV and video projects including From Sydney with Love, Orange, We Are Family, Crooks: It’s Good to be Bad and Just Dance 2.
The fund will trigger several million dollars’ worth of production and will utilize the 40% producer offset. The organisers have committed to hire at least 90% local crew and at least 80% local cast. They say they are locking in first look deals for the slate along with servicing partners in post, international sales and completion bonds.
Janine Pearce from JP Media law is the legal counsel and will executive produce the projects. The first two to be funded will be announced early next year.
Yateendra Gupta said, “We are very excited to announce this venture. With growing numbers of professional Australian investors, the investor-friendly Australian film space and the success of India-centric Western films, we are anticipating a long term presence supporting Australian stories.”
Sharma said, “We believe it is the right time to invest in the Australian film industry’s niche projects and redefine the form and content of an Australian story, like Bend it Like Beckham did in the UK as an India-centric British film. We have professional crews, a producer offset and a strong Indian diaspora. With this fund, Australia can be more than just a service provider for the Indian film industry.
“AIFF’s decision to completely fund projects will also hopefully take financial pressure off agencies such as Screen Australia who have been so enthusiastically pushing better links between India and Australia.”
Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said, “Together with DFAT, we have actively supported the Australian screen industry’s engagement with India. It’s terrific to now see a great outcome for industry, with the delivery of private investment for Australian stories that will have a unique Indian perspective.”