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FAQs

Application Procedure

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 through our online Proposal Submission Interface, by creating an account on it.

Call for Proposals

CAN I SUBMIT A PROPOSAL WHEN THERE IS NO OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS?

PSBT works against grants from its donor-partners and ordinarily commissions when there is an active project. We therefore encourage filmmakers to 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 you feel you have something to propose, outside of the regular commissioning window, which is topical or exceptional, you could submit your proposal at any time of the year, under our General Commissioning. Your Proposal will be submitted to our pool of proposals, which we will consider either immediately or in the future, depending on our resources.

 

WHEN DOES PSBT CALL FOR PROPOSALS?

There is no scheduled time of the year when we invite proposals. On an average, we invite proposals twice a year, depending upon our grants and projects.

 

HOW DOES ONE GET TO KNOW IF PSBT IS INVITING PROPOSALS?

PSBT’s calls for proposals are announced on our website, Facebook, emailed to our subscribers and often advertised in select national newspapers, journals and magazines. If you would like to receive intimations from us, you could subscribe to our emails.

 

CAN I 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.

Commissioning Procedure

WHAT IS PSBT’S COMMISSIONING PROCEDURE?

Please visit Commissioning Procedure

First time filmmakers

DOES PSBT WORK WITH FIRST-TIME FILMMAKERS OR THOSE WITH NO TRAINING IN FILMMAKING?

Democratising of the media is the cornerstone of PSBT’s work and we especially encourage first-time filmmakers to submit proposals to us. That you have never made a film before or have not been to any formal media or film school, is not a disqualification. This is not to negate the significance or value of those who have studied film or have experience – we consider that knowledge most valuable. But we also recognise that those with creative imagination and a penchant for story telling could make good films without understanding filmmaking in a formal or conventional manner.

Average Budget

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, for which we feel responsible. We attempt to use our funds to make as large a number of films as possible, without compromising their quality. We recognise that our budgets are not comparable to international standards, but we wish to provide the little support that we do, as best as we can.

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, allow for marginally enhanced budgets. In all cases, budgets have to be well reasoned and thought through in detail.

Duration of Film

WHAT IS THE DURATION OF FILMS PRODUCED BY PSBT?

PSBT films are usually 26 minutes in duration. Longer films are 52 minutes, also made as two 26 minute films.

Production time

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. We are committed to meeting our deadlines as per our Agreements with our donor-partners, and hence, have to push filmmakers to keep to theirs.

Production Language

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.

Evaluation Procedure

WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR MY 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. It is inevitable that hundreds will be disappointed, upset and some even angry. Each proposal we receive is given fair and due consideration, 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 equally 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 Commissioning Editor, the PSBT Team and the Board of Trustees consultatively and we are collectively responsible for all commissioning decisions, successes and failures. 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 and follow processes which we have established and tested over time, ensuring that our independence or that of our filmmakers is not compromised. Since there are certain technical requirements laid down in our terms of partnership and agreements, for example, with Doordarshan, we are not able to deviate from those.

PSBT is committed to transparency and happy to respond to any reasonable requests for information, not already available on our website.

In order to ensure a level playing field and keep our commissioning process free from any encumbrances, particularly for filmmakers who are not from Delhi, PSBT discourages personal meetings with filmmakers 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, we may even choose to disqualify such filmmakers and their proposals.

 

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 you can make a film in whichever way you want 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 and feedback we share, represent honest, well-intended, though subjective responses to a piece of work with the objective 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. But, finally, it’s the filmmaker’s film and responsibility.

Film Selection Criteria for Awards and Festivals

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; PSBT’s internal review and audience responses.

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.

GST

IS PSBT OR ITS FILMMAKERS LIABLE TO PAY GOODS AND SERVICES 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 Goods and Services Tax. We have been advised that neither PSBT nor the Video Journalists we support are liable to paying Goods and Services Tax.