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  • 1490 selections at Festivals around the world

  • 274 Awards in India and abroad

  • 49 National Film Awards
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»  Kiran Karnik
»  Mrinal Sen
»  Rajiv Mehrotra
»  Shyam Benegal
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»  Sunita Narain
»  CEO, Prasar Bharati

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How does one apply to PSBT to make a documentary film?

When does PSBT call for proposals?

How does one get to know if PSBT is inviting proposals?

Does PSBT work with first-time filmmakers?

What is PSBT's commissioning process?

What is the average budget for a PSBT film?

What is the duration of films produced by PSBT?

Can one submit more than one proposal?

What is the average amount of time for production of the film?

Are there are any language constraints? Does the proposed film have to be in Hindi/ regional language or can it be in English?

What are the reasons for a proposal not getting selected?

How do multiple evaluators arrive at conclusive judgments on proposals?

Are PSBT’s decisions influenced by the Government?

What is PSBT’s evaluation system?

What if I do not agree with the comments the evaluators make on my work?


What are the criteria for selecting Films for the National Awards and other Festivals?

Is PSBT or its filmmakers liable to pay Service Tax?




How does one apply to PSBT to make a documentary film?
PSBT ordinarily invites proposals from independent filmmakers for its Film Fellowships, once or twice a year. A commissioning brief is announced and filmmakers are invited to submit proposals in keeping with the broad outline provided. Filmmakers can submit their proposals using the proposal form available online. We encourage filmmakers to ordinarily submit proposals in response to an open call since there are greater chances of their proposals being considered when PSBT is actively seeking to commission films.

However, PSBT is always open to exceptional proposals and if filmmakers feel they have something to propose, outside of the regular commissioning cycle, they could submit their proposal at any time of the year, using the General Commissioning Proposal Form. These proposals get submitted to our general pool of proposals, which we may consider in the future, depending on our resources.

When does PSBT call for proposals?
We ordinarily invite proposals once/ twice a year, depending upon our grants and projects.


How does one get to know if PSBT is inviting proposals?
PSBT’s call for proposals is announced on our website, Facebook Page and ordinarily advertised in select national newspapers, journals and magazines.
We also send the call via email to those who subscribe to our mailing list.
 
Does PSBT work with first-time filmmakers?
Democratising of the media is the cornerstone of PSBT’s work and we especially encourage first-time filmmakers to submit proposals to us. Close to 70 per cent of our filmmakers are first-time and starting out filmmakers.

What is PSBT's commissioning process?
PSBT encourages the production of innovative documentary films and is committed to expanding the constituency of filmmakers within the genre. We strike a balance among first-time filmmakers, students of recognised media institutions – including recent graduates - women filmmakers and those with achievements and recognition in related fields. Our commissioning procedure is transparent in which all proposals are circulated amongst all our Trustees and partner organisations. Based on their comments and our expertise, a short list is arrived at. Final commissioning is done based on several parameters including maintaining a balance among regional, gender and linguistic representation. PSBT’s commissioning process is transparent, credible and professional. Any attempts to influence the process lead to disqualification. We also discourage filmmakers from seeking to meet PSBT while their proposals are under consideration.

What is the average budget for a PSBT film?
We are a not-for-profit body committed to supporting public service documentary films. Ours is a community resource which is limited and finite. We attempt to use our funds to make as large a number of films as possible, without compromising quality.

Ordinarily, we fund projects that cost between Rs 4 and 4.5 lakh for a half hour documentary. At the same time, we are sensitive to the requirements of the films and consider higher budgets for films which may necessitate them. Some of our projects, like the one with the External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division, allow for enhanced budgets for production on full High Definition, in which case the budgets average Rs 15 lakh for a half hour documenatry. In all cases, budgets have to be well reasoned and thought through in detail.

What is the duration of films produced by PSBT?
PSBT films are usually 26 minutes in duration. Longer films, largely an exception, are made of two 26 minute films.

Can one submit more than one proposal?
We are usually not comfortable processing more than one proposal at a time from the same filmmaker or a proposal from a filmmaker who still has one under production with us, unless it is very close to completion. We invest a lot of time and effort in evaluating each proposal, just as we know the filmmaker invests in writing one. We look for personal passion and intellectual rigour in the arguments and issues the proposal addresses. Several proposals from the same filmmaker are often indicative of an assembly line pitch as if improving one's odds in a lottery.

What is the average amount of time for production of the film?
Filmmakers ordinarily have four to six months in which to complete the film, including a turnaround time of three weeks for clearance and payment by PSBT at each stage – i.e. contract; comments on script; comments on rough cut; comments on revised/ fine cut; deliverables and final submissions.

Are there are any language constraints? Does the proposed film have to be in Hindi/ regional language or can it be in English?
The films can be made in any language of the Filmmaker's choice, but should have an English version.

What are the reasons for a proposal not getting selected?
It is a very humbling experience to have to select and take responsibility of choosing a few proposals from the many hundreds that we receive - virtually all of them from legitimate filmmakers. It is inevitable that hundreds will be disappointed, upset and some even angry.

Each proposal we receive is circulated amongst our Trustees, evaluators and our donors; but given the large volume of proposals we receive, it gets difficult for us to support every proposal, as much as we’d love to.  Sadly, there is no infallible way of predicting the success of a film on the basis of a written proposal and we’ve often seen outstanding proposals that do not lead to films that are as outstanding. We are sensitive to the time, energy, passion and hope that go into writing a proposal but, unfortunately, we are left with no choice but to disappoint approximately 19 out of 20 filmmakers who submit proposals, in spite of recognising their impeccable credentials and high potential of producing very good films.

How do multiple evaluators arrive at conclusive judgments on proposals?
Commissioning decisions are taken by the Board of Trustees of PSBT (all their profiles are available on our website) consultatively and we are collectively responsible for all commissioning decisions.  There is no numerical scoring process of proposals. We primarily look for ideas that are articulated in nuanced ways - through interesting cinematic treatments and the potential of the filmmaker to deliver on them. Since there can be no absolute empirical formula that can evaluate the potential of a written proposal, we stick to a consultative process of evaluation - taking into account varying opinions of each evaluator. Additionally, we do try and support a large range of filmmakers ranging from first timers, mid-career filmmakers and filmmakers hailing from different parts of India. We also seek to avoid supporting more than one film on the same subject, if we have supported one in recent years. We aspire to fair regional and gender representation. While we do our honest best, we sometimes end up getting it wrong.
 
Are PSBT’s decisions influenced by the Government?
For the record, PSBT is an independent not-for-profit organisation that receives grants from a number of sources, including the use of funds from its own corpus. We work in partnership with several organisations and the terms of our grants from the Government are governed by the rules applicable to Grants in Aid. We function independently. Quite apart from the RTI Act, we are also committed to transparency and are happy to respond to any reasonable requests for information, not already available on our website.

In order to ensure a level playing field, particularly for filmmakers who are not from Delhi, PSBT discourages personal meetings between filmmakers and PSBT officials till the formal acceptance of proposals is in place. We are uncomfortable with filmmakers who try to, overtly or covertly, influence the decision making process. In such cases, our Trustees may even choose to disqualify such filmmakers and their proposals.

What is PSBT’s evaluation system?
PSBT has an active mentoring and evaluation system. Detailed comments and feedback are provided by the Commissioning Editor, the PSBT Team and external evaluators on the Scripts; research notes; rough, revised and fine cuts submitted by the filmmakers.

What if I do not agree with the comments the evaluators make on my work?
It is always painful and difficult to confront and accept criticism towards one’s work. PSBT is deeply committed to the independence of the filmmaker and works towards the empowerment of the filmmaker so that s/he can make a film in whichever way s/he wants to, so long as it represents facts accurately and is finally acceptable to the funding body and meets the codes and laws applicable at the time. We advise our filmmakers to be guided by a Code of Practice that helps them adopt good practices through the course of the production.

The comments represent an honest, objective response to a piece of work with an intention of helping the filmmaker make a better film. We deeply respect all our filmmakers and our only expectation of them is an honest effort and an open, receptive mind. At the same time, we do recognise that ultimately any response to a creative enterprise will vary and that quite a few of the works that we reject have the potential to be later celebrated. We can only urge the comments for filmmakers’ calm consideration and expect legitimate well motivated responses to them. Our final aim is to come up with a film that we can all be proud of and which will serve its objectives. But, finally, it’s the filmmaker’s call, her/ his film and responsibility.

What are the criteria for selecting Films for the National Awards and other festivals?
PSBT attempts to enter its films to as many festivals as possible and also encourages filmmakers to enter their films directly. Decisions to enter films are taken after considering various factors: the nature of the festival; the evaluators' comments on the eligible films; audience responses and PSBT's evaluation of them.

In the case of the National Awards and the Indian Panorama, the entries are severely limited and PSBT is forced to choose out of several competing films. Here too, the bases for selection remain the same as above and a collective decision is arrived at. Despite doing our best, PSBT realises that the decision remains a subjective one, that some may concur with and some not. PSBT's performance at the Awards suggests that we may not have been entirely wrong in our selection.

For some years now, PSBT has been vehemently campaigning for the pre-emptive right of the Filmmaker to enter her/ his films at both, the National Awards and the Panorama. We look to our filmmakers for support on this.

Is PSBT or its filmmakers liable to pay Service Tax?
PSBT is a not-for-profit that receives grants from the Government and in turn offers Documentary Fellowships to Video Journalists - a non-commercial activity to promote excellence in an art form. We do not pay any Service Tax. Organisations such as PSBT, registered under Section 12A, are exempt from Service Tax.  We have been advised that neither PSBT nor the Video Journalists we support are liable to pay Service Tax.

As per Notification No. 25/2012 from the Ministry of Finance, the following services are exempt from service tax:
a. Transfer or permitting the use or enjoyment of a copyright covered under Clauses (a) or (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, relating to original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works or cinematograph films. (The Indian Copyright Act, 1957 defines copyright as the exclusive right subject to the provisions of the Act, to do or authorise the doing of any of the following acts in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof namely:…(iv) to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work.)

b. Services by way of collecting or providing news by an independent journalist…


Six selections at the International Film Festival of Kerala, 16-20 June

Atul by Kamal Swaroop
I’m Jeeja by Swati Chakraborty 

Saving the Wild by Rita Banerji
Soz: A Ballad of Maladies by Tushar Madhav and Sarvnik Kaur
The Books We Made by Anupama Chandra and T.N. Uma Devi
The Pangti Story by Sesino Yhoshu

 

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