by Peter Bussian
New York-based photographer-filmmaker on the process of fund-raising for his projected feature film, Scarlet Poppy
I am grateful for the support of NFDC - it has been key to us reaching close to our goal. In addition to Film Bazaar, NFDC sponsored the film at the India Pavilion in Cannes. It was also NFDC's official project to Independent Filmmaker Project's No Borders in New York. Scarlet Poppy went to my home town, New York, as an Indian project. No Borders in turn sponsored my film at Dubai IFF as their official project, which is where I may have finally found my funding. In any case, NFDC was a vital link in the chain of getting this film made. The project was presented at Asian Project Market in Busan, Korea.
Making a feature film must be one of the most difficult endeavours on earth, especially in today’s economy. The given is that you must have a unique and compelling story to tell - and an A-level script. I started up this steep slope five years ago, when I began writing the screenplay based on an idea I had years earlier.
The Story of Scarlet Poppy, a cross-cultural tragic love story set in Afghanistan, was very personal and organic for me. Working in a remote Afghan village as a photographer, I spent several years thinking about this idea, and then wrote the script.
The film follows a divorced, homeless American contractor, whose years in Afghanistan leave him jaded by the violence, hypocrisy and futility he witnesses. He meets an Afghan widow, a doctor and the mother of two, who has found herself caught in a crippling and repressive Taliban-controlled culture. Their encounter at a check point is one they are compelled to take forward.
With the support of many, especially Golden Globe-winning Afghan director, Siddiq Barmak, with whom I had worked, I submitted my script and was fortunate to be accepted into a series of high profile co-production markets. These markets have become an essential link toward getting the film financed and made. Without them, I am not sure the project would have ever found its wings. Although not totally funded and green-lit yet, I am confident we will be soon.
Along the co-production market trail, I have made solid contacts with sales agents, producers and other filmmakers who are proving to be important in the short-term as we look for the rest of our funds, but also after the film is made, when we look for festivals and distribution.
All these festivals will feature prominently when we decide where to premiere and highlight the film. Being a South Asian story, it is as such, within the mandate of NFDC’s support. I am particularly grateful, given that it is a non-Indian story, by a non-Indian director.