As India emerges from the global pandemic, the red carpet has been rolled out for the global filmmaking community, while ensuring that all safety protocols are in place, and permissions processes have been further simplified under the Ease of Doing Business policy to make filmmaking a beautiful experience in the world’s largest filmmaking country.
As it prepares to face the challenges of a post-Covid world, India, the world’s largest filmmaking country, is once again rolling out the red carpet for the global filmmaking community to explore the beauty of filming in India.
The importance of original content creation cannot be overstated as India embarks on a journey to build a robust ecosystem that fosters talent and growth. Today, thanks to technological advancements, good content knows no geographical boundaries, and to make filming in India a memorable experience, the Government of India has ensured a smooth process for filmmakers.
“India is a very old civilisation. With a diversity of cultures and languages, we have a lot of stories to offer to the world. Today we feel that India can be the content hub of the world with these stories. The epics of Ramayan and Mahabharat have been a major source of inspiration for various aspects of human life over the centuries, and the fables in these stories offer lessons to humanity in many ways,” says Anurag Singh Thakur, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports.
Established in 2016, the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) of the Ministry of I&B, Government of India, is housed under the aegis of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). Its web portal https://ffo.gov.in/en is India’s single window clearance and facilitation mechanism for international feature films, reality TV &, web series, commercial TV serials/shows and web shows/series that film in India.
As a result of some serious efforts put in by FFO, as many as 138 international projects (Feature Films, TV/Web shows and series) from across 33 countries have been accorded permissions to film in India. Out of these, 13 projects were granted official co-production status by the Ministry of I& B.
India has co-production and bilateral agreements with around 30 countries across the world.
The government has also introduced a separate category of Visa called Film (F) Visa, which is valid for one year, with multiple entry facility. It has simplified entry of international filmmakers, cast & crew to film in India. It has been subsequently modified to include web shows/series and location recce for foreign filmmakers. Since 2016, over 1265 F Visas have been issued.
“Under the Government’s ease of doing business initiative, the FFO is the single window which assists in obtaining filming permissions. In this Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav we invite filmmakers to shoot in this beautiful landscape of our country, from the mighty Himalayas in the North to the scenic temples and beaches of Mahabalipuram,” says Dr L Murugan, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting and Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
As many as 18 international projects were given permission during these pandemic times, thus showing the support given to filmmakers. The shoot of the official Indo-Bangladesh co-production Bangabandhu was successfully completed and currently crew members from France, US, UK, Nigeria, Canada etc. are in the process of obtaining Film Visa to travel to India for shooting various projects.
As the government has become an important stakeholder in the film ecosystem in India, the establishment of FFO has ensured that the processes of permissions and other support services become much faster and streamlined in India.
In 2021, FFO’s mandate has been expanded to include creation of an ecosystem to facilitate various approvals and clearances required in setting up of theatres and execution of events by event management agencies at State and National level.
The Film Facilitation Office has emerged as the one-stop solution for filming needs of producers in India and abroad. It has helped almost 138 film production companies to shoot in India from abroad. So I will urge all the film producers from abroad and within the country to reach out to the Film Facilitation Office of NFDC to come and shoot in the beautiful locations of India,” says Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
India is blessed with scenic locations, incredible cultural diversity, trained film crews and low production costs, which is coupled with film friendly policies. Owing to these advantages many overseas studios are increasingly entering into arrangements with producers in India to jointly produce films and television series. India also allows Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) upto 100 percent for film and TV productions under the automatic route.
“We are committed towards the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s initiative of Filming in India under the Government of India’s Ease of Doing Business. NFDC through the FFO is constantly engaging with various Central Government Ministries/Departments and the State Governments to not only ease the filming process but also setting up a mechanism that will enable the FFO to address grievances pertaining to filming and track receipt of incentives on behalf of filmmakers,” says Ravinder Bhakar MD, National Film Development Corporation and CEO, Central Board of Film Certification.
He adds that filmmakers can apply for permits for location recce, shooting in monuments under the jurisdiction of Archaeological Survey of India and locations under the Ministry of Railways at ease through the FFO. “We look forward to welcoming producers and production companies from across the world to shoot their Feature Films, TV and Web shows and series in India,” he says.
Recently, the FFO has implemented certain modifications in its web portal, which will further ensure ease of filming in India. These modifications include simplification of the application form to make it more user friendly for both domestic and international projects. A Document checklist is also being made available in the applicant’s dashboard to enable the applicant to be prepared with all the required documents that needs to be uploaded as a part of the application.
Incentive Tracking Mechanism has also been executed on the portal. It allows applicants to fill in a form to enable the FFO track the status of disbursement of the incentive from the State Governments, on behalf of the applicant.
FFO has also put in place a shooting permission redressal / resolution mechanism. A form filled in by the applicant allows the FFO to intervene on behalf of the applicants and ensure the filming process is smooth and easy.
FFO: Adding Value to India’s Economy
The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) of the Ministry of I&B has added INR412.49 crores in terms of economic value through facilitation of permissions since FY 2016-17. As of today, out of the 138 international projects, 82 have completed shooting in India; data on money spent was received informally from 69 projects that shows approximately INR412.49 crores has been spent in India by these 69 projects. Moreover, over 29,000 people were employed directly or indirectly in these productions.
As part emphasis on ease of doing business, integration of FFO and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) web portals has enabled a filmmaker to apply and get filming permission in ASI owned monuments through the FFO. This is a step towards creating a single window ecosystem for filming across various heritage sites/monuments. FFO has also integrated its website with the Ministry of Railways to create an online application system. Domestic and International filmmakers can now apply for filming in areas under the Railway’s jurisdiction across India, through FFO portal.