For director Lena Khan, bringing her film The Tiger Hunter to the big screen has been a dream that’s been years in the making. An established director of music videos and short films, Khan has been working on her first feature-length film for eight years. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that’s raised over $55,000 to date, pre-production on the film will soon begin.
The Tiger Hunter tells the story of Sami Malik, a 20-something Indian immigrant who arrives in the United States in the 1970s and ends up in a houseful of zany roommates. In an email interview, Khan described the film as a dramatic comedy that’s “a bit of a buddy movie, with a lot of comedy but compelling characters as well.”
She adds that the immigrant experience is often an excellent source of comedy. “It feels like no two stories are the same,” said Khan. “While one person had to steal a stool sample to get a Visa into the country, another person had to live with 35 people in one apartment where they all slept like sardines on the floor. It seems everyone had different experiences, and many were amazingly authentic and funny.”
“Sami long ago started off being inspired a bit by my father, but now he’s somebody else entirely,” said Khan, whose family is originally from Lucknow. “Mostly, it started with what it took for my dad to come to America and hearing stories about his father, a tiger hunter.”
Since last spring Khan has been documenting her movie-making journey on her Tumblr, Lena Makes a Movie. On it, she offers tips on things like how to create a successful fundraising campaign, provides insight on casting and budgeting, and answers questions from student filmmakers.
Khan’s story could serve as a blueprint for other aspiring female and minority filmmakers attempting to finance their films. The director says that the age of social media has made breaking into the film industry easier in many ways.
“This Kickstarter not only helped us with money, it also connected us to a fairly large producer potentially interested in the project, and helped us find two investors,” she said. “If we had gone straight to studios (which is rare anyway, since they are only interested right now in making the next X-Men or the like) they might not have seen the potential.”
While The Tiger Hunter’s Kickstarter campaign has reached its goal, the website will be active through Friday and Khan hopes they will ultimately raise $75,000. “Since movies are so expensive, more funds means we can have a better selection of actors, soundtrack options, and even details like Special Effects,” says Khan.