October 14, 2008
Lack of Shooting Space Hits Film-Making
By Bhama Devi Ravi
CHENNAI: Ahead of Deepavali, the only cameras that are rolling uninterruptedly in the city are the security cameras installed by the police. For the makers of films and TV commercials, finding the right shooting spot has become a tough proposition.While the police have banned outdoor shooting in the day time, shooting floors have become scarce. "Big films like 'Ayirathil Oruvan' have moved to Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad because of lack of adequate floors in Chennai. The decline in the number of film studios is impacting production," says Rama Narayan, president Tamil Film Producers' Council (TFPC).
Similar is the case of ad film makers. "This is the season for shooting of commercial ads and it is getting difficult to find a spot that meets the needs of producers," says Vijay Murali, executive committee member, TFPC. The trend of television channels booking an entire floor to shoot popular weekend menu of game, talk, quiz or reality shows (on a long lease) has added to the space scarcity. There are over a dozen shows in the various channels, and one episode of a game show requires a full day's shooting. "Maanada Mayilada, "Jodi No 1' and 'Super Singer' are some of the popular shows shot in the city. "Even if the channel is not shooting on a particular day, the floor having already been taken on lease, will not be available," says a producer.
According to rough industry estimates, more than 50 films are in the making. Moreover, at least 70 television programmes are being shot in the city, on an average day. However, there are only four studios available - AVM Film Studio, AVM Studio, Prasad and MGR Film & Television Institute.
"There are a few other spots in and around Virugambakkam with pre- designed sets of a hospital, jail and a police station, but they are not always suitable for combination shots. We cannot show a hero arriving in a car and stepping out in style, or a villain arriving for a confrontation - all at one place. The units have no choice but to head for Ramoji Film City, if other large floors in the three studios are booked," says a studio executive.
Recently, songs from 'Aegan' and 'Villu' were shot in AVM Film Studio. Kalaipuli Thanu, producer of 'Kandasami', starring Vikram and Shriya, opted for Gaiety Theatre to picturise a song after erecting massive sets. The demolition of shooting houses such as Kushaldas Gardens on Poonamallee High Road and S S Vaasan's house on Radhakrishnan Salai in the recent past has compounded the problem, says producer and studio owner A V M Balasubramaniam.
"These places allowed frequent changes of facade, but that is not possible anymore," he adds. Appu House, belonging to the late MGR's adopted son has also been converted into a corporate house, says actor Mohan Raman.
The storyline may be as old as the hills, but no film can afford to shoot in a spot already familiar to audiences from earlier films.
"The solution lies in finding new places within the city. We have approached the government for help, and have suggested that five floors be built at the MGR Film & TV Institute," says Narayan. Until then, everyone has to play musical chairs.
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