Goa, November 25, 2015: Post the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s initiative to set up the Film Facilitation Office (FFO), which has been set up as the one-stop shop for facilitating film shoots in India, the Ministry of Tourism in association with the Ministry of I&B and the NFDC held a four-day Symposium, November 21 – 24, 2015, on Film Tourism. The Symposium was designed to encourage dialogue between members of the film fraternity and government bodies, on the current challenges facing filmmakers to film in India.

First Day | November 21, 2015 | Session with the Ministry of I&B and Ministry of Tourism

The deliberations, which were held between the film fraternity which consisted of acclaimed filmmakers, Indian and International producers, Line Producers, State Tourism Bodies, International professionals with experience in functioning of Film Commissions and Sh. Sunil Arora, Secretary, Ministry of I&B, Sh. Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Sh. K.Sanjay Murthy, Jt. Secretary (Films) Ministry of I&B, Jt. Secretary, Suman Billa, Ministry of Tourism and Ms. Nina Lath Gupta, MD, NFDC.

The session welcomed the film fraternity and the foreign film experts to talk about their needs with Govt. representatives so as to create a proper synergy between the film community and the various authorities and thereby facilitate an eco-system that would be sensitive to the needs of both the filmmakers and the administration. It was concluded that the FFO would adapt the best practice already present in India and abroad, identify and recommend such policy changes at the central and state levels.

In this context, Sh. Sunil Arora, Secretary, Ministry of I&B, said, “There was a need to conduct a well-structured workshop between the fraternity and the Central Government, various State Governments and relevant Government Departments. The outcome of this workshop, which is a first amongst many such interactive sessions, would be to lay down the required changes that may be done by various Ministries and Govt. Departments, so as to develop a film friendly environment. He further emphasized that State initiatives need to be synergized from the point of view of the overall coordination mechanism. The NFDC would be responsible for holding these dialogues and the first such workshop would be held at the end of this year”

Second Day | November 22, 2015 | Session with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

The session, which was chaired by Sh. Shharat Sharma, Additional Director General, ASI and Ms. Nina Lath Gupta, MD, NFDC, and attended by prominent filmmakers, line producers and international delegates to Film Bazaar, discussed how filming at ASI sites could become easier without impinging upon the principal concern of the ASI, especially with regard to protecting national monuments from damage.

The ASI and the film industry delegates had a conducive discussion on the current guidelines for filming/shooting in different heritage sites/monuments that belong to the ASI and the existing ground realities in securing filming permissions at such ASI sites.

In this regard, Sh. Shharat Sharma, Additional Director General, ASI said, “ASI acknowledged the role that films can play in spreading India’s historical legacy and culture to different parts of the world and thereby spread the message of preservation of the country’s national heritage. He further added that the Symposium was a good learning process for the ASI, as it helped in knowing the problems faced by the film industry and in turn the filmmakers committed to honor the guidelines that ASI would issue towards the preservation of the national monuments. Many new areas of co-operation were discussed between the parties to further collaborate so as to make India a better film tourism destination.”

The Addl. DG, assured the film fraternity that the ASI would consider some of the key issues that face the filmmakers during their shooting at ASI sites which include setting up an online mechanism to accept applications for permissions to shoot at monuments, giving filmmakers a 3 hour time slot for setting up for sunrise and sunset shots, appointing a liaison officer to be available with the film unit so as to help implement the permissions given.

Third Day | November 23, 2015 | Session with the Ministry of Home Affairs

A session with the representative of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Indian and International film industry professionals was held to discuss the issues pertaining to issuance of an exclusive visa for film shootings in India and faster clearances and permissions from the various competent authorities under the aegis of the Ministry.

Fourth Day | November 24, 2015 | Session with the Ministry of Railways

The Symposium concluded with a session with the Ministry of Railways, which was represented by Sh. Narendra A. Patil, CPRO, to discuss the existing issues while shooting in various locations owned by the Railways and deliberate on the possible solutions for speedier clearances for filming.

It was suggested in the meeting that an unused railway yard be dedicated for film shoots across selected geographies, which could also be leveraged for tourism purposes. In this regard, Art Directors, Production Managers and other relevant crew would be roped in to create such a suitable facility. The dialogue also included recommendations such as having different fee structures for features, documentaries, television shows, regional films etc., preserving rolling stocks from the by-gone eras for period films, exploring the facilitation of guerilla shoots in crowded stations amongst many other valuable propositions.

Industry Delegates at the Film Symposium

Eminent film fraternity members included Shyam Benegal, Ramesh Sippy, Prakash Jha, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Sudhir Mishra, Raj Kumar Hirani, Anubhav Sinha, Kabir Khan, Vani Tripathi Tikoo, Bharat Bala, Sanjay Suri.

Well-known Producers and line producers, Iqbal Kidwai, Pravesh Sahni, Raman Lamba, Deborah Bennatar were also present for deliberations.

The international community was represented by Ruth Harley (Former CEO Screen Australia and New Zealand Film Commission), Gisella Carr (Chief Executive, Film New Zealand), James Weyman from Ontario Media Corp., German producer Michael Henricks, French Producer Marc Irmer amongst others.

State Tourism bodies like The MP Tourism, TN Tourism, Film Cell Gujarat, Daman Diu & Dadar Nagar Haveli, were also present in these discussions.

In view of the above deliberations, Ms. Nina Lath Gupta, MD, NFDC said, “ that it has been our endeavour over the years to facilitate the ease of shooting films in India. While NFDC helps the Central and State Governments and their various Agencies to establish parameters of efficiency to build an effective single window eco-system, tangible outcomes would happen in the coming months.”