Travel bans kill inbound film and TVC production

Anupam Sharma, former SAFC CEO Helen Leake and supervising DOP Casimir Dickson filming ‘Bollywood Downunder’.

Travel bans have shut the door to offshore feature films, TVCs and other productions, with a devastating impact on companies and crews who relied on that work.

One of the companies hardest hit by the shutdown is Anupam Sharma’s Fox Studios-based Films and Casting Temple, which this year had serviced only one TVC for an Indian client when the bans were imposed.

“Financially and in the short term it is a major blow for my team and many of my colleagues who work predominantly with overseas markets,” Sharma tells IF.

“We were gearing up for a great 2020 and now all our projects from abroad are cancelled. I wish I could say postponed, but unfortunately they are cancelled as TVCs need to be on air by a certain time.”

Among the work his firm has lost are a feature film recce from Asia, a major Bollywood film that had planned to film in Oz and TVCs from Spain and the UK.

“I feel for all my crew who have had nothing but cancellations,” he says. “My first AD had half a dozen cancellations in two days.

“These are the people who need the most support as they live on day-to-day and week-to-week wages. We are trying to utilise some of our freelance crew in paid development work.”

Sharma is working on the assumption there will be zero film projects or TVCs from international clients for four to six months, so he is focusing on developing scripts, working on budgets and preparing funding applications.

“Thankfully state film bodies and Screen Australia are still accepting applications so that keeps the morale high,” he says. “Our Aussie and international investors who fund our development are still signing cheques as they believe now is as good a time as any to invest in development.”

Currently he is editing the feature documentary Bollywood Downunder, which he is directing and producing with Claire Waygood. Jannine Barnes is the line producer.

Funded by private investment from the UK, Spain, the Middle East and India, the doc chronicles Bollywood’s successes and failures, starting in the late 1990s when Bollywood first brought serious money to Australian shores and the industry quickly became a darling of the tourism, trade, and educational bodies.

Forum Films will distribute theatrically in Australia and there will be an international version entitled Global Bollywood.