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Monday, October 3, 2022

This Bengaluru Couple Travel & Scout For Gorgeous Movie Sets & Locations To Make A Living

The rocky boulders of Ramanagara in Sholay, where Gabbar Singh said his iconic line “Kitne Aadmi The?”, Ladakh’s Pangong Tso Lake the reunion point of the 3 Idiots and Rohtang Pass, where Geet from Jab We Met dances to the foottapping music of Yeh Ishq Hai, have their own stories to tell. Locations in movies set the psychological tone, and enhance the entire look and feel of the film. Iconic locations likes these have also become popular tourist spots as well. But hunting for the perfect location to shoot movies is not an easy feat. Well, a Bengaluru couple travel and scout for gorgeous movie sets and locations to make a living. Their company Filmapia is all about location scouting for the entertainment industry. So, lights, cameras action!

Creating A Website About Film Locations While Managing Corporate Jobs
Benjamin Jacob and Ivy Manohar, a couple from Bengaluru worked in the corporate world for around 20 years. The professionals blew off steam from their job by watching lots of movies. And while they dived into the world of cinema for entertainment, they were always curious where the movies were shot, whenever they came across beautiful locations on screen. With no readymade answers, Benjamin and Ivy decided to find the answers themselves. The couple researched and created a website where they wrote about movies and where they were shot. Around 2009, they set up Filmapia, an informational website for film buffs that also acted as a library for movie locations. They travelled to Ramanagara where Sholay was shot. And also visited Kolar, where a scene from Aamir Khan’s debut movie Qayamat se Qayamat Tak was shot. Filmapia slowly took off and became extremely popular among cinephiles.

Location Scouting For Filmmakers & The Start Of Filmapia
With a popular website filled with interesting trivia about iconic movie locations, personal experience visiting those famous sites where films were shot and the eateries located nearby, the question often intrigued the couple, what’s next? Juggling their corporate jobs with their love for films and locations, time passed by. During this time, they started tours around these film locations including bicycle tours around Ramanagara, unfortunately it didn’t work out. Benjamin and Ivy then started getting enquiries from filmmakers who wanted help from them to shoot at these locations listed on their website Filmapia.

Ivy Manohar revealed to The Better India, that was the moment when they realised that the film location service in itself was a huge industry. And it presented a potential business opportunity for them, waiting to be unravelled. In 2014, an ad filmmaker came across their website and approached Ivy and Benjamin to find a location with rocky terrain and tall grass. The excited couple dived into this project and found a suitable spot near Nandi Hills in Karnataka. They sought permissions, finalised dates and reached the set on the day of the shoot. That was their first assignment and it went very well. Afterwhich, they received two more projects from the same client-Myntra. Ivy and Manohar instantly knew they wanted to do this for the rest of their lives. The Bengaluru couple continued scouting locations while balancing their full-time jobs till 2017.

Ivy Manohar revealed to The Better India, that was the moment when they realised that the film location service in itself was a huge industry. And it presented a potential business opportunity for them, waiting to be unravelled. In 2014, an ad filmmaker came across their website and approached Ivy and Benjamin to find a location with rocky terrain and tall grass. The excited couple dived into this project and found a suitable spot near Nandi Hills in Karnataka. They sought permissions, finalised dates and reached the set on the day of the shoot. That was their first assignment and it went very well. Afterwhich, they received two more projects from the same client-Myntra. Ivy and Manohar instantly knew they wanted to do this for the rest of their lives. The Bengaluru couple continued scouting locations while balancing their full-time jobs till 2017.

Bringing Professionalism & Transparency Into An Unorganised Sector
Through their experience scouting locating for films, the duo learnt a lot from their time on shoots. The utter chaos of the unorganised sector was something they just couldn’t ignore. Ivy stated to Your Story that limited database, chaotic non-transparent process and lack of accountability towards locations were some of the issues in the industry. In order to offer clients and location owners a professional and transparent experience, and fully commit to the highly demanding job, they quit their corporate jobs and formally launched Filmapia in 2018. Ivy’s venture addresses these challenges with its online platform. Filmapia saves a filmmaker’s time and money by at least 50 percent as compared to the traditional methods. With their knowledge and two decade experience in the IT industry, they incorporated the planning and organisation found in the professional world into the unroganised and chaotic world of location scouting.

How Does The Business Model Of Filmapia Work?
The business model of Filmapia, works just like an Airbnb for film locations. If you have a property that you wouldn’t mind giving for film shooting then you can enlist them on the Filmapia website. If the filmmaker likes it, the property gets chosen and the shoot will take place. The property owner will get paid a handsome amount for it in return. If the filmmaker doesn’t have the time to browse through the website, then the couple sends them options based on the requirements. The third option is the most creative. In this, filmmakers share their scripts with Ivy and Benjamin. The duo sends them location options based on the characters. Benjamin stated to The Better India, that they ensure the locations are budget-friendly. If the movie requires a beach in Bengaluru, they send them pictures of a beach in Mangaluru instead of Goa or Mumbai. Travelling to scout locations has led to the couple discovering hidden gems in the country, like the Yana Caves.

Filmapia’s Biggest Successes Till Date
Ever since the official launch of the business in 2017, Filmapia has worked on over 130 film projects around 300 locations. Their portfolio includes films, ads, web series, photoshoots, corporate shoots, TV dramas etc. From indie filmmakers to big brands like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon to larger production houses like Netflix, Excel Entertainment, Zee, Colour, Viacom 18. Ivy shares with Your Story that filmmakers from both India and abroad have used their services. One of their biggest success stories includes a promotional launch for a song in the film Lucknow Central. The promotional launch took place in Pune’s Yerawada Jail. This was the first time any film-related activity was permitted in the high-security jail….

For Filmapia this was just another challenge. Securing permissions wasn’t easy, but Ivy and Benjamin did the unthinkable. And in 2017, Farhan Akhtar launched a song for Lucknow Central in Yerwada Jail in front of 4000 prisoners, jailers and police. It was certainly no easy feat, and they find it to be one of their greatest successes stories till date. The IT couple with no experience or contacts in the film industry lead the film scouting business in India today. Ivy Manohar and Benjamin Jacob’s story is indeed an out of the box one, bringing the real to the reel!

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