In Conversation With… Benjamin Jacob, Founder, Filmapia
Can you please help us know your professional background?
I am an ex-IT professional with over 15 years in the Telecom domain in roles ranging from a developer to systems architect to managing teams of various sizes.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Our (me and my partner Ivy’s) passion for Movies & Travel made us start Filmapia. It started as a hobby website where we recorded what movie was shot where. We built this over years along with our full time IT jobs. Over a period of time, as traction to the website built, Filmmakers started reaching out to us to help shoot them in some of the locations we had recorded. And thus started our journey into entrepreneurship, when we researched this new field of Filmmaking, of locations and services for Film Shoots. We learnt all things about Film from scratch, improved our website and features – and the filming industry rewarded us by giving us repeat and quality business.
Though I have had dreams about creating a business for the longest time, the actual path to it was an accidental ‘hobby turning into a business’ journey.
Can you please tell us about your venture ‘Filmapia’?
Filmapia is one of its kind platform in India for Filmmakers to explore and book locations for Film Shoots, where the locations are sourced from regular people like you and me – our homes, offices, restaurants or any other property.
For property owners – It helps them to get a much better return from their properties, compared to the traditional rental methods.
For Filmmakers – They get a vast number of and variety of ‘live’ locations within a few minutes, instead of a lot of days of searching. This helps them save costs & time of 3x or more!
How do you view the competition in the industry/niche that you operate in?
The existing network of Location Managers are our main competitors. They have been providing locations to the filming industry forever, with their databases of locations.
But for us at Filmapia, more than considering them as competition, we are working with them where we showcase their locations and market their locations; they do the same for our locations. With our online presence and process oriented systems, we are able to cater to wider market of Filmmakers both in India and overseas.
What was the feeling like when you got the first client appreciation for your venture?
Elated of course, especially considering we were new to the industry and the work. It gave us the required confidence to go further. It helped in a way that the client referred to us more clients, getting us more business.
What is one best thing about your venture ‘Filmapia’?
We are able to indulge in our passion of travel and movies. Filmapia helps us go to places that are usually out of bounds for common citizens, e.g. a high security prison, exclusive private estates, and more! And we get to watch movies as part of our job! Now, that is a dream come true for us!
What is the problem you are trying to solve with your venture ‘Filampia’?
Film location sourcing and services around it are at times done in a manual, chaotic and opaque manner, which sometimes makes the process unpredictable in terms of cost and time. Not to forget, the limited number and limited variety of locations available, which causes the same locations repeated multiple times.
Filmapia solves these issues by crowd-sourcing the properties required for Film shoots and making them available online. This saves cost and time. Moreover, filmmakers get a potentially unlimited number and equally importantly a vast variety of ‘live’ locations.
Filmapia is poised at the right cusp to dig in and change the game, starting with India first.
What impact did covid-19 pandemic have on your business? What steps did you take to overcome it?
Almost all ‘people-at-one-location’ based industries like events & films have taken a hit during the pandemic. And Filmapia too isn’t unaffected. The business has been wavy during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
What is heartening for us at Filmapia is that in the few months that the business opened up, we did decent business, which gives us hope to stay strong.
While Covid-19 rages on, we are repairing our nets, increasing our database of locations and properties across India. We intend to have 1,500 additional properties enlisted on Filmapia by end of 2021.
*All views are that of the interviewee. UdyamGyan does not promote or endorse any claims.