An introduction to the “Indian Documentary Producers Association”

An introduction to the “Indian Documentary Producers Association”

Established in 1956 and registered as a public trust under the Bombay Trust Act 1950, the Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA) is a premier body that has facilitated and acknowledged makers of documentaries and short films by providing them with regular professional opportunities, standardized rate cards and settlement of disputes. Today, after 64 years of hard work and international acclaim, the IDPA is India’s largest association of producers of documentaries, animation films, and TV programs.

Some of the illustrious names of the film and documentary world who are associated with the IDPA and have been instrumental in changing the course of it are Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Manmohan Shetty, Mike Pandey, Paul Zils, Vijaya Muley, Aruna Raje Patil and others, many of whom started their careers with short films and documentaries.

By providing a platform for the short filmmaking fraternity, the IDPA has tireless worked in the interest of documentary and short film makers for 64 years making it the single largest association of producers of Documentaries, Advertising films, Animation films, Short Fiction Films and TV programmes. Not only is the IDPA actively involved with educational institutes to reach young budding filmmakers, it also conducts screenings and workshops at frequent intervals to help them get familiar with the workings of the industry.

The IDPA also organizes film festivals and has instituted rewards to recognize and reward both the fresh and matured talents of Indian documentary makers, short film makers and even film making students. The IDPA works in collaboration with Film Division of India and has been co-organizers of the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) since its inception in 1990. Apart from being a co-organizer off MIFF, the IDPA also organizes and conducts Open Forums on film related concerns and issues at International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

The incumbent Executive Committee of IPDA comprises of Ms. Usha Deshpande as President, Mr. Aditya Seth as the Vice President, Mr. Sanskar Desai, Mr. Ravi Iyer., Dr. Ravindra Katyayan , Mr. Sanjay Verma and Satinder Mohan. Each member of the committee comes with an extensive body of work and rock solid credentials.

Among the aforementioned eminent personalities representing IDPA at national and international level, I had the privilege and honor of having an audience with internationally acclaimed independent award winning filmmaker Mr. Aditya Seth who is currently the Vice President of IDPA. He is one of the most popular faces of the documentary world, an extremely intelligent gentleman with a keen acumen, and someone who is extremely passionate about his craft.

Having trained under internationally acclaimed filmmaker Shri Prakash Jha, Aditya Seth’s versatility of talent is clearly visible in the 500+ projects he has designed and shaped as Producer/ Writer/ Director / Editor/ Consultant/ Film Critic/ Voice Over artist. His portfolio is defined by Documentaries, Corporate Films, News Magazines, TV shows of all genres, Tele- Serials, Public Service Announcements, Audio Visuals, Television Commercials, Live Events, CD Roms, and Radio Production.

With a sound grounding in theatre and music, Aditya is also an academic and Professor of Film who teaches Filmmaking and related media at the Under Graduate and Post Graduate level. He is a Certified Master Trainer for Media & Entertainment Skills Council, Skill India. He is also an Academic Consultant for University of South Wales, Cardiff, Wales, (UK).

What was the objective of setting up of a body like IDPA? In what capacity is the IDPA associated with the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF)?

Today the IDPA is in its 64th year of existence, the primary objective of IDPA is to facilitate industry related activities for members who are all filmmakers and to create, promote, propagate awareness documentaries by holding workshops and screenings, seminars and film festivals. As far as MIFF is concerned, we have partnered with MIFF ever since its inception. Till date 16 editions of Miff have been organized and IDPA has partnered with them in facilitating open forums, small seminars that happen on a daily basis during the festival, we also have a First Fimmaker’s student award that has been established with collaboration with MIFF, IPDA is a part of the organizing committee for various requirements and facilitation of the festival and also for international support as well. These are 2 different bodies but come together for many activities one of them being MIFF. However there is no financial transaction involved, IDPA conducts the role of facilitator.

IDPA being a nonprofit organization, how does it sustain itself financially?
By membership, by collecting membership fees from the members and through workshops, we have a slot in Doordarshan where we get a slot for our members and IDPA gets a processing fee. Currently we have around 500 members.

Does IDPA provide any financial aid to film makers?

No, we are not a financing body , we are a networking and facilitating body for members from different geographical locations who want to collaborate, we bring them together however we don’t interfere in the business aspects, we can only help them in putting things together without any financial obligation on our part.

Are there any issues that have been and are still a matter of concern of IDPA and how does IPDA intend to combat those?

Primary issue is that of lack of finance and marketing capabilities of IDPA especially for independent films, so that is an ongoing battle. We are addressing this issue by running slots in Doordarshan which gives some recovery to the concerned parties other than that as we are not into financing or commissioning but we do help with connections and other resources but ultimately it’s on the member and facilitating party to take it forward.

In case a filmmaker member wants to avail loan for making a documentary will IPDA stand as a guarantor for him/her?

No, being a nonprofit and non charity organization we cannot get into any such business. It is against the by-laws. We are just facilitators.

Is there any upcoming event in the near future that IDPA is looking forward to?
Yes, we have an award function coming up and that is at a National level award, it is the 13th IDPA Film Awards for Excellence 2020 .The IDPA Awards for Excellence is the only competition in India where the documentary and short film-making community recognizes the work of its peers. The Awards will be announced and presented at an event on May 23rd 2020 in Mumbai.

Awards shall be given for the Best Documentary, Best Short Fiction, Best Animation Film, Best Commercial/Ad Film, Best Film on Climate Change, Best Public Service Film, Best film on Women’s empowerment, Best Short Film made on a mobile phone, Best film on wildlife, Best International film & Best Student Film amongst other categories. There shall also be Technical Awards for Best Editing, Sound Design, Script, Cinematography & Vfx.

Apart from that, we are currently busy with the preparations other than that we are increasing the number of screenings in colleges and universities, we are in the process of initiating a series of workshop to help and facilitate exhibition, distribution and marketing of films. The Executive Committee is responsible for each vertical however we are collectively responsible for the entire activity. An exemplification of the essence of the association is the 13th IDPA Film Awards for Excellence 2020.

What is the kind of workshop IDPA is currently focusing on organizing?

Workshops on Crowdfunding is the next big thing to look out for, this is basically a platform to generate funds for struggling filmmakers however commercial firms or business organizations cannot participate or invest as this is against our rules and regulations.

What do you have to say on the quality of documentaries made in the last 5 years?

There has been a lot of positive changes especially the independent filmmakers have evolved in terms of subject matter, technology, concept, formats, approach, also now the line is blurring between fiction and nonfiction, everything is becoming character based which is again the need of the hour and this makes the film more interesting and appealing because whoever is sanctioning grants for such films needs to recover the money. The entire endeavor is now to have more character based films rather than theme based films. This is the primary change that is evident is the past few years.

In today’s age of smart phones that have liberated filmmaking and opened up the exploration of both theme and content in dramatic new ways while spurring tremendous growth in the number of film makers, the IDPA’s main objective is to promote Independent Short and Documentary Film making in India and provide a platform geared towards achieving that end by recognizing and rewarding the talent of the Indian short film maker. IDPA’s journey till now has been full of crests and troughs however it still has many milestones to conquer and under the able leadership of the Election Committee, it will continue to grow from strength to strength.

Antara Sarkar

With a Post Graduate in Marketing Management, and 14 years of corporate experience in General Insurance domain, Antara is based out of Delhi and shuttles across India for her work commitments. In order to pursue her higher education, she left home at the tender age of 16 and has stayed in different cities of India, allowing her to meet people from different backgrounds. As a voracious reader, traveller, and orator, Antara has always found the art of writing extremely therapeutic as it helps her channel her inner energy about various social issues.

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