Real Passion to Real Business

The 2008 Great Recession would have pushed back many entrepreneurs, but for Ivy Manohara, it was an opportunity to go after her dream. She decided to use this to set up her business: Filmapia – a venture that provides consultancy on ideal Shoot Locations to Filmmakers. 

Like thousands of other professionals, she and her husband, Ben, lost their jobs in 2008. 

The couple, however, used the sabbatical to binge-watch cinema at home, and having travelled extensively, trying to guess the locations where some scenes were shot. It was Ivy’s grit that eventually turned a guessing game to first a blog and then a successful business that catered to brands like Amazon, Twitter, Ola and the like.

They created an online database for films with the shooting locations listed down. What started out as a hobby and a passion caught the eye of Filmmakers. “Filmmakers got in touch with us and said they wanted us to arrange shootings at the locations from our database. We were surprised” says Ivy. 

That query led to 8 long years of business research on the workings of the Film Locations Market with a few small projects executed. “Being outsiders to the Film Industry, we had to gather data on our own. We visited the industries in Mumbai and Bangalore, and scoured the internet for information. We found that the Film Locations Market was a very unorganized business which we, with our skills as IT professionals, could organize and make it easier for Filmmakers of all sorts to access locations.”

Filmapia was started in 2018 officially as a business, a decade after Ivy and Ben had started watching films and spotting locations as a pastime. But research wasn’t the only hurdle they had to jump. “We faced a ton of resistance from our family and friends. No one in my family had ever run a business, and they were naturally opposed to the idea of me running one, and definitely not in the Film Industry. We actually started Filmapia without informing our families”

In showbiz, a certain pedigree is an easy gateway into the world of glamour. The cinema world was new to her and not as welcoming at first. Ivy and Ben were industry outsiders, and their backgrounds stuck out when they tried to foray into the Film Industry. “We were not well-accepted there. The film business was terra incognita for us, and we were taken for a few rides early on. In addition to that, we made our share of mistakes and learnt some very expensive lessons. However, we created a whole log of whatever we’ve learnt from our experiences as business rules and formulated a system of work and for filtering out clients who refuse to toe the line.”

Filmapia’s success is not only the result of a simple yet ingenious idea that it represents but also about the quality of service offered. Filmapia takes utmost care about the assurances they provide to Location owners and holds the Film parties accountable. “Since we are outsiders, we used our IT-industry connections and experiences for our business as well. That made the question of safety assurance even more important”

Over the years, Filmapia’s scope has expanded from a Location provider to perhaps what could be called a Location Consultant. “We read the scripts given to us and suggest Locations where they can be shot, given the requirements of the sequence. Even if the Location is not already on our roster, we can find one with the help of a network of individuals that we’ve created.”

Ivy’s immediate concern is to gain as much knowledge from the GAME Growtherator programme as possible and put it all to use in her grand scheme for the future. “I want to expand Filmapia internationally, but growth at that scale needs a sound business foundation. I hope that with the knowledge I get from GAME I’m able to create a blueprint for Filmapia’s future. I’ve already begun to apply certain fundamentals into my business and they are helping us phenomenally.”

The pandemic has put a dent into Filmapia’s growth chart, but they’ve been able to shoot remotely with some directors. “Technology is the greatest catalyst in this age. People can do a lot with technology, and if someone’s looking to be an entrepreneur in the coming years, they’d have to incorporate technology to create something new.”

As for now, Ivy is busy with a new vertical in Filmapia. “We’ve launched a video production service for start-ups. I work in the Film Industry. Every startup needs good quality videos to promote their businesses, however, they don’t have huge budgets. So I came up with the idea of starting a quality-based, pocket-friendly video production service for start-ups” says Ivy.

That Ivy turned a bank of niche information into a lucrative, profitable business speaks volumes about what can be achieved with the right information, will and guidance. “I wish that entrepreneurial education picks up in India so that people would not have to face the issues I did.”