Neeraj Churi: Lotus Visual Production

Three people sat in a room

Creative processes such as filmmaking or documentaries is an inherently collaborative undertaking. However, the boundaries of geography sometimes bind us, especially in times like the pandemic, where the demand for creative content was at an all-time high. Still, the creative process was burdened due to travel restrictions. A chance to participate in "India UK Creative Industries at 75" opened up a new way of collaborating that was liberating and enriching.

The program paired us, UK-based filmmakers, with creative teams in India, giving us a chance to shape a collective vision for the projects and an ability to tell stories across two countries bound intricately via history. Through our creative journey, we produced an anthology, Voices at 75, comprising three ten-minute documentaries titled The Journeys Of 377, The Girl Child, and Manifestation of Caste, each examining the impact of colonial rule on Sexuality, Gender, and Caste, connecting narratives in India and the UK.

This experiment provided a chance to build a framework to tell stories that span two countries allowing us to examine multiple facets of the same issue from both sides cost-effectively by pairing teams who can conduct local research and film local footage.

Here are a few things that we adopted to make our venture successful that could serve as a building block for such future collaborations:

  1. We built our framework on the fundamentals of mutual respect, accommodation of everyone's ideas, solid communication, and trust.
  2. We had to accommodate the fact that we were working across time zones; we all came from different backgrounds and life experiences; we all had daytime work and family obligations, and some of the team members were going through challenging personal circumstances.
  3. We adopted technological innovations such as Zoom, WhatsApp, and Google Drive to foster communication and build trust among us. Eventually, we extended that to the broader team helping us with post-production.
  4. We agreed to weekly Zoom checkpoint meetings that would initially serve as brainstorming and trust-building sessions, later morph into project planning sessions, and finally for tracking project progress and course correction.
  5. WhatsApp groups made it easier to collaborate at our own pace, depending on our time zones and availability, while maintaining transparency.
  6. Collaborative tools such as Google Drive ensured we were on the same page regarding the decisions made, also serving as a means to log feedback and suggestions on the edits.

My work primarily involves producing films and content for the South Asian communities in the form of music videos, documentaries, and movies. It brings me in contact with several actors, singers, musicians, composers, and creative artists in various fields in the UK and India.

As an independent producer associated with producing South Asian LGBTQ+ films and content, this framework effectively brings artists, creative individuals, and even the wider LGBTQ+ communities in India and the UK to share their experiences and create collaborative content while reducing production costs.

To make this framework further effective, I would like to suggest the following:

  1. Creating a directory of groups and individuals interested in cross-country collaboration in both countries and the skills they offer or seek would be a good start.
  2. Countries such as the UK offer better access to funding, mentorship, and distribution channels, particularly for documentaries. Expanding the collaborative framework to tap into funding, mentorship, and distribution network would further encourage such collaborations and increase their effectiveness.
  3. Continuing programs such as this for the next few years, inviting applicants via open applications in India and the UK.