When Bhutan's top director Tshering Wangyel finishes a film, he and his staff take to the Himalayan countryside for months at a time armed with a projector, tent, screen and tickets. Movie making in the isolated kingdom is strenuous business. Not only do you have to teach yourself the filmmaking basics, but you must lug a makeshift cinema from village to village to reach Bhutan's movie-loving population. Despite the lack of infrastructure, Bhutan's 25-year-old industry is thriving, with audiences in one of the most remote countries on earth flocking to homegrown movies that have blended Bollywood with the traditional Buddhist teachings. "Currently, it takes us a year to cover the country for screenings. I used to do it myself all the time; now I send my staff," Wangyel said in the capital, Thimphu. "Last year, my boys took a car, a screen, a tent, a projector, tickets - they went from district to district, setting up a makeshift cinema in each venue or using school auditoriums." Many of the industry's directors and actors also juggle their passion for cinema with day jobs as soldiers, monks, and even politicians. Wangyel began his career in government, but the avid Bollywood fan, who grew up in a country where Indian musicals were a staple, always had movies on his mind. "I was living this mundane 9-to-5 life when I decided to make my first film: a love triangle about two college kids falling for the same girl," Wangyel said. Three of his friends acted in the 1999 production and contributed US$5,000 each towards the shoestring budget. Wangyel, then an official in the ministry of agriculture, wrote the screenplay and handled the camera, sound and lighting. He also staged Bhutan's first musical number, lifting the melody from a popular Indian film and convincing his cousins to serve as backup dancers. He released the flick, Rawa (Hope), in Thimphu's only cinema, the rat-infested Lugar, currently under renovation. By the time he made his second, he realised that while production was a challenge, distribution was an ordeal, requiring filmmakers to carry generators, fuel and screening equipment from village to village. Forty movies later, he says distribution continues to be a slog. The long wait for screenings has also fuelled a thriving piracy industry, with impatient audiences eager to watch illegal copies of the Dzongkha-language films. Despite these challenges, the industry has expanded substantially, with annual output jumping from three films a decade ago to 15 films this year. Although a small number of Bhutanese films, including 1999's The Cup, directed by a Tibetan Buddhist lama have found critical and commercial success overseas, viewers at home prefer movies with song and dance. "If a film is too artistic or realistic, it won't work. Our audiences like a formula - it must include songs, dances, humour and tears," Wangyel said.