Sri Lanka promoted as filmmakers’ paradise

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 01:34 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • US$ 4.5 million revenue from on-location filming during the last few months an indication of potential, say industry experts

By Roshenka de Mel

Scenic Sri Lanka has the potential to become a “filmmakers’ paradise,” say industry experts, after two international films filmed on location generated over US$ 4.5 million over the space of a few months.

The Film Team Pvt. Ltd. at an event on Monday pitched Sri Lanka as an increasingly marketable filmmaking destination in the advent of peacetime and introduced two of the company’s current international filmmaking projects, both of which were filmed on location in Sri Lanka.

Endem Men, a historic piece set in 1914, generated US$ 1.5 million and the expansive adaptation of Deepa Mehta’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ generated an additional US$ 3 million in film revenue for the country over the expanse of a few months.

‘Midnight’s Children’ also generated 1,000 jobs for local extras and although being set in India, was filmed completely in Sri Lanka. 

The Film Team comprises of four professionals with over 25 years of experience in managing the production of international projects, feature films, commercials and music videos in Sri Lanka and South Asia.

Following the war, the team has embarked on international projects with greater receptiveness from foreign filmmakers and are fast tapping into the country’s potential as an international filmmaking destination.

Chairman and Associate Producer Ravindra Randeniya stated: “During the war, nobody wanted to risk investing in film projects in Sri Lanka as the risk of disruption was too great and would prove too costly. Following peacetime, there is greater stability and more filmmakers are considering Sri Lanka as a location for their films. Insurance companies are also more willing to back actors who are filming in Sri Lanka. This was not the case during the war and really is a big step forward, which will open up even more opportunities for Sri Lanka as a filming location.”

Sri Lanka offers a dynamic variety of locations in a condensed area, making travel from location to location faster. Aside from increased stability, Sri Lanka also provides excellent conditions and support services for filmmakers.

Randeniya stated: “Sri Lanka’s geographical location, structure and terrain allow for a variety of locations to be reached within a day as the island is small. The climate is ideal for filming conditions. Sri Lanka also has very well trained film professionals, which contributes greatly to the quality of productions filmed in Sri Lanka and ultimately make Sri Lanka a filmmaker’s paradise.”

Production Accountant and Director of Sales Gopi Darmaratnam stated that the team had sold Sri Lanka as a location without the use of incentives and won pitches by effectively conveying the island’s potential as a location.

Darmaratnam referred to Production Designer and Art Director Errol Kelly as “a silver bullet in the selling process who knows how to really sell Sri Lanka as a filming location. When there is doubt about whether Sri Lanka can fulfil all the location requirements of a film, Errol proposes creative solutions that win over the pitch.”

Production Manager Ainsley De Silva explained that from start to finish, selling Sri Lanka as a location also involved many processes and thorough knowledge of the country’s locations form a crucial part in bringing film projects to Sri Lanka.

As the film industry in Sri Lanka savours all the opportunities made available by peacetime, the country will be able to benefit both artistically and economically from foreign film projects being produced in Sri Lanka.

Randeniya pointed out: “When you make films in a country, it creates a whole new image for the country and instils great pride in everyone. Although it is a less conventional contributor to economic growth, Sri Lanka’s filmmaking industry is doing its part by bringing in foreign currency, increasing investments in the country and generating high returns in the form of employment opportunities and professional development.”