Discussing the process of developing and producing an independent feature film in a developing country environment, this ebook examines the US-Asian independent co-production in Cambodia, 'Freedom Deal' as a case study.
Written by the film's co-producer & writer-director, this article shares some unique first-person insights about the challenges of making movies in an LDC (Less Developed Country) environment where production infrastructure, IT, financing, and staffing may all be less available than in Western or developed-production environments.
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But these challenges can be identified primarily, in our case at least:
1) Non-robust internet - Crowd funding relies upon solid, constant internet access.
We’re currently relying on a 3G SIM based system which allows us 12 Gigs of traffic per month for $20. Broadband here in Cambodia is comparatively expensive, $100+ per month depending on the service and speed, and it’s currently not practical for us to pay for broadband.
But sometimes the internet – the entire backbone here - just craps out, and then there’s no way to conduct international outreach, twittering, blogging, or other updates until it’s back up. Or, if you are running off a 2 or 3G USB-SIM based service, the SIM card may run out of credit in the evening...so you have to wait til the morning when the store opens to recharge your SIM and keep going. (“Surprise, surprise, surprise!”)
2) Scarcity of available volunteers - Volunteerism is not big at all in Cambodia, mainly because most folks must work to make a living, and/or as a corollary, they are working such long hours that, mostly, they have no time to volunteer.
I also believe, from having worked in neighboring Thailand, that there may be a cultural component to the unpopularity of volunteerism in the region. It was tough to find volunteers in Thailand for the indie film fest we ran there, the Bangkok IndieFest for instance, so everyone had to be hired – though they eagerly came on board when hired.
We hire local staffers all the time to work on our projects, and always pay them well above the standard. We also often train them from scratch for many functions if they are unfamiliar with any task.
But, according to my estimation at least, without a significantly volunteer staff, a roster of paid staffers to run the ‘Freedom Deal’ crowd funding campaign would cannibalize the modest revenue we are receiving to such a degree that the crowd funding effort would not be worthwhile, besides its ‘experimental value’. (*for this segment at least)
IN SUMMARY: there are many significant and unique challenges in producing an independent feature film like ‘Freedom Deal’ in the developing world