Interview with Pema Tshering: Every penny is from our own pocket, so producing films in Bhutan is very tough.

We speak with Pema Tshering about his career, his films screening at Five Flavours, and Bhutan and its cinema.


Born in 1969, Pema Tshering is a producer, cinematographer, actor, director of Thuktro Productions studio, active in the film industry. He studied linguistics and cultural studies in Bhutan and cinematography in India. Between 2015 and 2017, he was on the board of Bhutan Film Association.

On the occasion of his films, "In a Defiled World" and "Golden Cousin" screening at Five Flavours, we speak with him about his career, the films, and Bhutan and its cinema.


Can you tell us how you got involved with movies at the very beginning?

In 1997, I saw an announcement in the news about the need for an artist for a commercial film. I took  my chance and went for the screen test and to my surprise, I got shortlisted for a small role. After that, I got really interested in film making and never looked back ever since.

What was your earliest/most significant experience with film?     

The earliest and the most significant experience I had with film, and something that I will never forget in my whole life was in 2004, when I was a part of two films called "6 Boys" and Yue Gi Bum.  These two films really gave me a whole another level of experience, at the time, with film making and I am always grateful for how they shaped who I am right now.


What training or experience really helped you to become a producer?  

The main thing that helped me the most in becoming a producer was my experience in distributing films throughout Bhutan in my earlier days, and as I went further, I grew confident that I could produce a film.

Do you find raising money the hardest part of producing? 
    
Because Bhutan is a small country and still developing, you might find it hard to believe that there is no raising fund at all. Every penny is from our own pocket, so producing films in Bhutan is very tough.

What’s the most unusual way you’ve ever funded a film?

The most unusual way I’ve funded a film was when I made my first feature film called "Karma The Destiny". The director said the budget was low, but it turned out to be triple the budget he predicted, while we had already reached the post production.

What has been your proudest achievement as a producer?

My proudest achievement as a producer, in my 20 years of working in this field, was in 2016, because both of my films "Hum Chewai Zamling" and "Serga Mathang" won the highest honored Awards; Prime Minister’s Award and The Best Film respectively.



What was the biggest challenge of "Golden Cousin,"  with its basic premise that goes against an age-old tradition? 

Well. we came across two huge challenges while making “Golden Cousin”. Firstly, after the story was written, we were worried whether the people might like it or misunderstand the story completely. And secondly, after we got confident with our story, it took us one month to get the title “Golden Cousin” approved by the Censorship.

"In A Defiled World" entails an impressive cast of Bhutanese actors. Was it difficult to bring them all together for the film?    

Yes, it was very difficult to bring all the impressively talented actors of Bhutan together in one film, but when they all came together in field, all went smoothly, and I was happy and grateful.



Can you tell us a bit about your company, Thuktro? Are there any new projects being developed at the moment?

Well, firstly, Thuktro means ‘entertainment to the heart’ in our language. I started this company in 2012, when I decided to start producing films. Thuktro presents original Bhutanese films that promote the indigenous tradition and culture of the Bhutanese people.

At the moment, we don’t have any new project being developed as we just finished distributing our two films of 2016 and currently we got caught up in improving Thuktro’s brand image through creating website (www.thuktro.bt), business cards, etc., and also submitting these two films to film festivals.

On average, how much a film in Bhutan costs and what is its margin for profit?

On an average production level, it cost around Nu. 3 million (approx. $ 46.000 ) where we usually get a net profit of 10 %, if the movie runs well.

How hard is for young directors to find their way in Bhutan film industry? 

It’s quite difficult for young directors to find their way to the film industry, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, because we are uncertain of how their work would turn out. And secondly, most people don’t take the risk on the new director. Having said that, there are few young directors who have good public relations already, so they stand out and eventually find their way to the top.

Are there some funding or incentives from the Bhutanese government to promote the movie industry?   

As far as I know, there’s no funding or incentives from the Bhutanese government to promote the movie industry so far, but last year, in 2016, there was an award called the Prime Minister’s Award which helped the winners immensely.


How is the distribution of the movies in a country that is in good part rural? 

There’s no distribution to the rural part of our country because of the lack of cinema halls. If we want to screen in the rural parts, we must carry our own equipment like projector, white screen background, movie players and even arrange places to screen our films. With that said, our government has plans on building cinema halls throughout the country, which would be of huge help to us in the future.

Do you think your job as a producer had an impact in the development of Bhutanese cinema

I’d like to think I did. Even though I endured so much loss while producing my films and struggled so much, I never gave up, thinking this would benefit the film makers and the youths of Bhutan on having employment opportunities. Also, I always worked on the development of the future of our film industry and my country.

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Johnson,1,Matthias Hoene,1,Maundy Thursday,1,Mayurakshi,1,Meghe Dhaka Tara,1,Memoir of a Murderer,1,Merantau,1,Mermaid,1,Michael Haertlein,1,Michelle Hung Tsz-ching,2,Midi Z,1,Midnight Runners,1,Midori Impuls,2,Midori The Camelia Girl,1,Mikhail Red,3,Milk the Maid,1,Ming-Yeh Rawnsley,1,Minoru Kunizawa,1,Mira Nair,1,Miss Zombie,1,Miwa Nishikawa,2,Mohammad Rasoulof,1,Mohammad-Reza Lotfi,1,Mon Mon Mon Monsters,1,Mong-Hong Chung,2,Monika S-r,1,Monologue,1,Moon Lovers,1,Mototsugu Watanabe,3,Mouly Surya,3,Mountains May Depart,1,Mourning Forest,1,Movie,2,Moving,1,Mr. Socrates,1,Mrs Fang,1,Mrs K,2,Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation),1,Mumon: The Land of Stealth,1,Museum,1,My Beloved Yak,1,My Dad and Mr Ito,1,Myanmar,1,Nah Hyeon,1,Nandita Roy,1,Naoko Ogigami,5,Naomi Kawase,3,Naosuke Kurosawa,1,Naoyuki Tomomatsu,3,Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit,1,Neeraj Ghaywan,1,Neko Atsume House,1,Neomanila,1,Nepal,1,Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival,1,New Neighbor,2,News,3,Newton,1,Nicholas Poly,4,Night Bus,1,Night is Short,1,Night is Short Walk on Girl,1,Night of the Felines,1,Nikkatsu,1,Nikola Cekic,1,Ninja Pussy Cat,1,Nirbaak,1,Niwatsukino Norihiro,1,Noboru Tanaka,1,Noboru Uguchi,1,Nobuhiro Yamashita,2,Nobuo Nakagawa,2,Nobuyuki Takeuchi,2,Noise,1,Non-fiction Diary,1,Norbu,1,Norihiro Niwatsukino,1,Norjmaa,1,Norman England,2,North Korea,2,Nurse Diary: Beast Afternoon,1,NYAFF,34,Odd Obsession,1,Old Boy,2,Old Stone,1,Old-School Kung-Fu Fest,3,Omar Rasya Joenoes,3,On the Job,1,On The Line Festival,3,On the Run,1,Onibaba,1,Operation Red Sea,1,Ophilia,1,Ordinary Person,1,Osamu Sato,1,Our Happy time,1,Our Time Will Come,1,Outrage Coda,1,Over the Fence,1,Oxide Pang,1,Padmavati,2,Palatpol Mingpornpichit,2,Pale Flower,1,Panos,1,Panos Kotzathanasis,216,Paresh Mokashi,1,Park Chan-wook,2,Park Hoon-Jung,2,Park In-je,1,Park Ki- hyung,1,Park Kwang-hyun,1,Parkpoom Wongpoom,1,Party Round the Globe,1,Past and Future,1,Patrick Hofmeister,56,Pedro Morata,9,Peerachai Kerdsint,1,Pelden Dorji,1,Pema "Tintin" Tshering,1,Pema Tshering,1,Pen-Ek Ratanaruang,2,Peng Xiaolian,1,Pepe Diokno,1,Perfect Blue,2,Peter Chan,1,Peter Chen,1,Phanumad Disattha,1,Philippines,11,Pieter - Jan Van Haecke,4,Pieter-Jan Van Haecke,7,Pink Eiga,10,PinkEiga.TV,1,pinku eiga,1,Pinneyum,1,Poet on a Business Trip,1,Poolside Man,1,Posto,1,Press Release,2,Prophecy,1,Proshoon Rahmaan,2,Psychic,1,Rabbit and Lizard,1,Radiance,1,Rage. Lee Sang-il,1,Rahul Jain,1,Railway Sleepers,1,Rainy Dog,1,Raja Mukhriz,1,Rajkumar Gupta,1,Randy Mckenzie,4,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead,1,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead 2,1,Ravine of Goodbye,1,Re:Born,1,Real,1,Realism,1,Red Beard,1,Red Persimmons,1,Reipu zonbi: Lust of the dead 3,1,Resistance at Tule Lake,1,Revenge: A love story,1,Review,6,Reviews,230,Reviews.,2,Reviews. Panos Kotzathanasis,1,Riri Riza,3,Ritwik Ghatak,2,River of Exploding Durians,1,Robin Weng,1,Roger Lee,1,Roman Porno,1,Ronja,1,Rouge,1,Running on Karma,1,Russia,1,RV: Resurrected Victims,1,Ryoo Seung-wan,1,Ryota Sakamaki,1,S. Korea,64,S.Korea,2,Saayak Santra,9,Sabrina Baracetti,1,Sabu,3,Salaam Bombay,1,Samui Song,1,San Diego Asian Film Festival,13,San Diego Film Festival,1,Sanjay Leela Bhansali,2,Sanjeewa Pushpakumara,2,Sankha Ray,28,Satan's Slaves,3,Satoru Hirohara,1,Satoshi Kon,3,Satyajit Ray,1,Say Yes,1,Sayandeep Bandyopadhyay,6,Scarlet Heart,1,Score,1,Seijun Suzuki,3,Sekigahara,1,Serga Mathang,1,Sexy S.W.A.T. Team,1,Sha Po Lang,1,Shakti Sounder Rajan,1,Shanjhey Kumar Perumal,1,Shanker Raman,1,Shaw Brothers,1,She's the Boss,1,Shiboprosad Mukherjee,1,Shigeru Umebayashi,1,Shikhar Verma,11,Shikhar Verna,3,Shinji Somai,2,Shinji Sômai,1,Shinjuku Swan,1,shinjuku Swan II,1,Shinjuku Triad Society,1,Shinobi no Kuni,2,Shinsuke Ogawa,1,Shinsuke Sato,1,Shinya Tsukamoto,3,Shireen Seno,1,Shirley Abraham,1,Shock Wave,1,Shôhei Imamura,1,Shoot for the Contents,1,Shorts,2,Shotaro Kobayashi,1,Shu Qi,1,Shunji Iwai,2,Shutter,1,Shyam Ramsay,1,Siddiq Ahamed,1,Sidharth Bharathan,1,Signature,1,Singapore,1,Singh Anand,1,Singing Chen,1,Sinophone,1,Sion Sono,10,Siti,1,Sixth Sense Hooker,1,Slavemen,1,Sleep Curse,1,Small Talk,1,Sogo Ishii,2,Solitude,1,Solo,1,Someone To Talk To,1,Sompot Chidgasompongse,2,Song Hae-sung,1,Song Kang-ho,1,Song of the Week,19,Sopawan Boonnimitra,1,Sopon Sakdapisit,1,Soul,1,Soul Mate,1,SoulMate,2,South Korea,16,Sri Lanka,3,Srijit Mukherji,7,Stanley Kwan,1,Stanley Tong,1,Stephen Chow,1,Stephen Fung,2,Steve James,1,Still the Water,1,Stoneman Murders,1,Story in Taipei,1,Strange Circus,1,Studio Ghibli,1,StudioCanal,4,Subenja Pongkorn,2,Suffering of Ninko,2,Sugihara Survivors: Jewish and Japanese,1,Suicide Club,1,Suman Mukhopadhay,1,Summer Snow,1,Sun-ho Cho,1,Sunao Katabuchi,3,Sunday Beauty Queen,1,Sung-hong Kim,1,Susumu Hirasawa,1,Tadashi Nagayama,1,Tae Guk Gi,1,Tag,1,Taiwan,24,Takaaki Hashiguchi,1,Takahide Hori,1,Takahisa Zeze,1,Takao Nakano,1,Takashi Miike,10,Take Care of My Cat,1,Takeo Kikuchi,2,Takeshi Kaneshiro,1,Takeshi Kitano,1,Takuro Nakamura,2,Talop Wangchuk,1,Tamil,1,Tamura Senichi,1,Tanit Jitnukul,1,Tanvir Ashraf,1,Tatara Samurai,1,Tatsuhi Omori,1,Tatsumi,1,Tatsumi Kumashiro,1,Teddy Soeriaatmadja,1,Teenkahon,1,Tetsuya Mariko,1,Tetsuya Nakashima,1,Thailand,20,Thanatos Drunk,1,That's It,1,The Adventurers,2,The Apology,1,The Bad,1,The Boy and the Beast,3,The boy from Ipanema,1,The Brink,1,The Chase,1,The Cinema Travellers,1,The Crawler in the Attic,1,The Crazy Family,1,The Day After,1,The Detective,1,The Dollhouse,1,The elephant and the sea,1,The Executioner,1,The Eye's Dream,1,The Forsaken Land,1,The Fortress,1,The Gangster's Daughter,1,The Girl Who Never Knew War,1,The Golden Fortress,1,The Good,1,The Great Buddha+,1,The Great Passage,1,The Hole,1,The Inugami Family,1,The Iron Ministry,1,The Island That All Flow By,1,The Isthmus,1,The King of Pigs,1,The Last Executioner,1,The Last Painting,1,The Long Excuse,1,The Looming Storm,1,The Lowlife,1,The Magic Blade,1,The Man Without a Map,1,The Mayor,1,The Merciless,2,The Mermaid,1,The Muse,1,The Naked Island,1,The Net,1,The Prison,1,The Promise,1,The Raid,1,The Raid 2,1,The recipe,1,The Road Home,1,The Road to Mandalay,1,the Robber's Daughter,1,The Room,1,The Salesman,1,The Sleep Curse,1,The Sower,2,The Story of the Disappearance of Maryam,1,The Strange Saga of Hiroshi the Freeloading Sex Machine,1,The Swindlers,1,The Table,1,The Third Murder,1,The Thousand Faces of Dunjia,1,The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale,1,The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue,1,The Tooth and the Nail,1,The Truth Beneath,1,The Villainess,3,The Violin Player,1,The Way We Are,1,The Weird,1,The Windmill Palm Grove,1,Third WIndow,1,This Is Not What I Expected,1,This Is Not What I Expected!,1,Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum,1,Three Sisters,1,Three Times,1,Tiffany Hsiung,1,Tik Tik Tik,1,Tôkaidô Yotsuya kaidan,1,Tokyo Ghoul,1,Tokyo Heaven,1,Tokyo Idols,1,Tokyo Vampire Hotel,1,Tolerance Film Festival,1,Tom Waller,2,Tony Leung,1,Tony Takitani,1,Torico,2,Toronto International Film Festival,1,Toshiaki Toyoda,2,Toshihisa Yokoshima,3,Toshimasha Kobayashi,1,Toshio Matsumoto,1,Toshiya Fujita,1,Town in a Lake,1,Traces of Sin,1,Trailers,66,Train to Busan,1,Tran Ham,1,Translated articles,1,Trapped,1,Travellers and Magicians,1,Trinh T. Minh-Ha,3,Triple Threat,1,Tsai Ming-liang,2,Tulsi Ramsay,1,Twilight Dinner,1,Twitch: You Are My Toy,1,Typhoon Club,1,Um Tae-hwa,1,Unbowed,1,V.I.P.,1,Vampire Cleanup Department,1,Vanishing Time A Boy Who Returned,1,Vannaphone Sitthirath,1,various,1,Varnyathil Aashanka,1,Verena Paravel,1,Vesoul International Film Festival,6,Vidya Balan,1,Vietnam,5,Vikramaditya Motwane,1,Vimukthi Jayasundara,1,Vinay Shukla,1,Violated Angels,1,Visitor Q,1,Vital,1,Vitaly Mansky,1,Voyage to Terengganu,1,Wai Ka-fai,1,Walk on Girl,1,Wang Bing,2,Wang Lung-wei,1,Wang Ming-tai,1,Warriors of the Dawn,2,Weeds on Fire,1,Wei-Hao Cheng,1,Wellgo USA,1,West North West,2,What A Wonderful Family 2,1,What Time Is It There?,1,Whispering Corridors,1,Whispering Star,1,White Sun,1,Who Killed Cock Robin,1,Whore Angel,1,Wilson Yip,1,Wiman Rizkidarajat,1,Wine War,1,With Prisoners,1,Woman of the Lake,1,Won Shin-Yeon,1,Wong Chun,3,Wong Jing,1,Wong Kar-wai,2,Woo Ming Jin,1,Xaisongkham Induangchanthy,1,Xu Bing,1,Ya-che Yang,1,Yamato (California),4,Yan Pak Wing,2,Yang Chao,2,Yang Ik-june,1,Yang Jong-hyeon,1,Yao Tian,1,Yeon Sang-ho,2,Yes Madam,1,Yeti Obhijaan,2,Yiu-wai Chu,1,Yoji Yamada,1,Yoo Ha,1,Yoon-chul chung,1,Yoonsuk Jung,1,Yosep Anggi Noen,1,Yoshihiro Hanno,1,Yoshihiro Nakamura,2,Yoshihiro Nishimura,3,Yoshimasa Jimbo,1,Yoshinari Nishikori,1,Yoshishige Yoshida,1,Yoshitaka Mori,1,Yoshiyuki Kishi,1,Yosuke Takeuchi,2,Yotsuya kaidan,1,You Losers!,1,Your Name,1,Youth,1,Yu Aoi,2,Yu Irie,1,Yu Sang-wook,1,Yuen Chor,1,Yuen Woo-ping,1,Yuji Shimomura,1,Yûji Tajiri,2,Yujiro Harumoto,2,Yuki Tanada,1,Yukihiko Tsutsumi,1,Yusaku Matsumoto,1,Yutaka Ikejima,2,Yutaro Nakamura,1,Yuya Ishii,2,Zakka Films,1,Zhang Lu,1,Zhang Yimou,1,Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight,1,Zuri Rinpoche. Bhutan. Five Flavours,1,
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Asian Film Vault: Interview with Pema Tshering: Every penny is from our own pocket, so producing films in Bhutan is very tough.
Interview with Pema Tshering: Every penny is from our own pocket, so producing films in Bhutan is very tough.
We speak with Pema Tshering about his career, his films screening at Five Flavours, and Bhutan and its cinema.
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