Against the Odds in the Arts

This week I entered the One World Media Awards. After being awarded the production fund of £1000 last year, I combined this amount with my own funding and a lot of help from fellow filmmakers to make Hijra's Hustle: The Introduction. The 15 minute documentary focuses on the stories of Hijra's in Bengaluru (India). 

It was a life changing experience, and one that I believe is a turning point in my career. The process of making a film is arguably the easy part, as in a world where I do not have direct access to the Arts industry, distributing and letting people see your film is harder that one could imagine. It is most filmmaker's dream to see their projects in film festivals, but to even enter festivals or awards there are fees that sit at around £50-£70. You also of course have to account for sending physical copies of the films out, which require you to buy DVDs, cases and paper to print synopsis' etc on, and cover postage costs. If you want to privately screen your film, expect £300+ (I have been quoted thousands) to hire a cinema in London for 2 hours. 

Now, I am not simply here to tell you how hard it is, but rather to address a wider narrative. All the above come under the umbrella of access. Access for those that aren't already connect in the film and Arts world is significantly and worryingly limited, and the way the West is set up, most working class citizens fall into the PoC (People of Colour) bracket. So, PoC access into the Arts is significantly limited.

Using that understand as a starting point has grounded me before I professionally move forward. More often than not, lack of funding has pushed me towards creativity, and I am forever grateful for it. Entering the One World Media Awards left me with a small dilemma this week, which seemed like nothing at the time, but spoke volumes in hindsight. I couldn't afford to buy DVD slips, so I made them.

I could have asked my mum or dad to get them for me, but to be honest, I had already ruled out buying anything. I used sketch paper I had at home, my printer, a Stanley knife, glue and a cutting board to achieve my vision. Yes plastic sleeves would be perfectly functional, but going through the process of making my own cases, printing the titles and having the help of my friends and family to cut and fold was so much more valuable to me, and actually I couldn't stop imagining how the judges would react to my craft session. This experience is a perfect analogy for how most of my film/radio/editorial/photography work is achieved.

I will definitely be touching on this topic in the near future, but for now I am trying to live my reality and continue to pop up in places and on platforms that aren't easy to get to. The comfort in all of this is that if you're just struggling for funding, at least you've got the creativity and talent covered. You have to search for resources externally in stead of internal inspiration, which puts you in a better position than those who have the resources yet lack ideas. After experiencing such difficulty with screening this film, I hope to open up a theatre/cinema for young people in the next ten years that is free to use, granted the candidates have a finished product and can pitch for a space. For now, paper and glue will do! 

#HijrasHustle