JLT Films: Harini Daddala on creating a safe space for indie cinema
“Producers today pick and choose from a limited section of tried and tested topics, and hence, the section of society being reflected is also limited,” says Harini Daddala. Through her online platform, Just Like That (JLT) Films, the independent filmmaker is going beyond the tried and tested formula by supporting and promoting unique content. While their last project, The Other Love Story is India’s first same sex web series, applauded for its concept and treatment, their latest film, Project Indian Bride is garnering much appreciation for the honest and never-seen-before portrayal of a transgender girl.
In a chat with Pandolin, Harini shares her vision for JLT Films and JLTPlex.com, giving independent cinema a global platform and supporting filmmakers to reach their target audience.
JustLikeThat Films has been at the fore of supporting and promoting independent filmmakers. As a platform, what factors motivate you to back a project?
For us, it’s purely the concept and the characters. We love pushing out content that’s different. We want to create a safe space for independent, experimental cinema, that explores new narratives, insight, emotion and gives us new characters to love and relate to.
We are currently curating content from across the globe, since our audience is already international.
Your last project, The Other Love Story and now Project Indian Bride, focus on different aspects of the LGBTQ community, that is deprived of basic rights. As a filmmaker, would you say it is a moral responsibility to highlight and create awareness about such issues?
Cinema is a reflection of society. Producers today pick and choose from a limited section of tried and tested topics, and hence, the section of society being reflected is also limited.
When these scripts came to me, I didn’t understand why they weren’t picked up yet. They were both compelling, socially relevant stories that were executed very well. Today TOLS (The Other Love Story), has crossed more than 14 Million Views, and PIB (Project Indian Bride) is still winning awards from all across India.
JLTplex.com allows independent cinema to stand on a global platform
The Other Love Story was the first same sex web series in India, what was the overall response like?
JLT’s The Other Love Story was an overwhelming experience to say the least. The amount of love we receive for the show, to this day, is amazing. Our audiences are spread across India, UAE, France, South America and the US. I think The Other Love Story brought in two really simple, relatable, young girls whose story reminded everyone of their first love – whether straight or gay. It opened a window to a world, many were trying to understand, and some were trying to find.
Coming to Project Indian Bride, how did this film come to you? What sets it apart from the other films/content made around the Transgender community.
Project Indian Bride came to me directly from the Writer/Director – Mujeer Pasha. When I read the script, it had a clear vision and a brilliantly written lead – Rekha. Rekha is an urban transgender girl, she spoke perfect English, she loved partying with her friends, she had a 9 to 5 job, and she wanted to be a model. I had personally never seen an Indian transgender woman being portrayed this way on screen. I knew I had to do it.
When these scripts came to me, I didn’t understand why they weren’t picked up yet
As producer, what aspects of a film/ project are you involved in? Do you share creative inputs as well?
Yes, my role is two-fold. In the traditional sense, I fund the projects on my own from inception to completion to launch. But I am also involved in the creative side of things during filming, setting up of team, selection of cast, editing and more. I am very careful when it comes to understanding the Director’s vision. I hate going off track from their original vision, so as a Producer, I always try to support the filmmaker to stay true to their idea.
How difficult is it to promote and market such independent content, from debutant filmmakers and especially when it comes to the LGBTQ subject?
We are very selective about the type of content we produce or launch. The first level is to gauge the story and the quality of filmmaking. Debutant filmmakers and subjects are relevant only when you’re not confident of Level 1. Our audience is international so they don’t have reservations, they look for a good watch. Of course, it would have been very different if we were catering only to an Indian audience.
I always try to support the filmmaker to stay true to their idea
JLT Films started with a YouTube channel and you’ll have now launched JLTPlex.com. What led to this expansion? What more does JLTPlex as a platform enable you to do?
JLTplex.com is unique for many different reasons. Firstly, unlike other platforms it allows independent cinema to stand on a global platform. Secondly, from a content owner point of view, we give them a chance to earn through their content and we have a very transparent system of sales/revenue share. Third, we support our filmmakers with their marketing efforts and create customized strategies for them in order for them to reach the right audience internationally.
Overall, at JLTplex.com we believe that there is a global demand for diverse genres, subjects, of content. We want to curate and serve them up on a platter for the world!
JLT’s Project Indian Bride is available on JLTplex.com. JLTplex is offering Pandolin’s readers a 50 % discount on the film. Check it out now!