How Documentary Filmmaker Sabiha Sumar Crowdfunded Her Brilliant New Project

"Getting funding from any set of investors is a terribly trying experience—there's no circumventing the pain of the process in any regard..."

At the time the seedlings of Sabiha's documentary Azmaish were sown, she was already shooting in Pakistan trying to capture the social reaction to the 'political climate'. "But then, when India found its new Prime Minister in Narendra Modi, and Nawaz Sharif came back to power in Pakistan to a political situation where the Taliban was now a palpable threat, I realised how many changes that heralded for India as well," she says.

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Ergo, the first bubbling conceptualisation of the Kalki Koechlin-starrer Azmaish. "I wanted to document the cross-changes this would have on both our societies, because our identities are very intermingled."

Crowdfunding, to her, was a two-fold benefactor, because it didn't just open her idea up to the public financially, it served the same purpose intellectually as well. "I've always been a people's person—I didn't, in any case, want to make something esoteric. I wanted people to resonate with the idea. I needed them to support my work, and to see, hear and feel how they wanted this film made."

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Getting 120 people to pledge their support (and money) to the project made it clear that people did want to see it made. "Getting funding from any set of investors is a terribly trying experience—there's no circumventing the pain of the process in any regard. It really tests your nerves, and crowdfunding is no different."

She mentions that the right crowdfunding team, however, makes all the difference. "I had a good partner in Wishberry—they really pushed me through to the end and didn't let me get disheartened."

For anyone thinking about entering the crowdfunding waters, she recommends aiming for a modest amount. "You set yourself up for failure if you aim too high."

Azmaish is scheduled to be screened at a film festival in London, post which it will premier on television in Europe.

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