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Friday, December 5, 2008

Career in Film Industry




   According to the Central Board of Film Certification of India, the Indian film industry is the largest in the world. This statement is sufficient for one to gauge the number of career opportunities that this industry provides. Furthermore, with the number of genres of cinema like animation and crossover films gaining significant ground in India and employment opportunities rising by the day, youngsters with a dream to make it big in showbiz are now fast flocking towards courses in film studies and filmmaking. “There is a huge demand for courses in filmmaking and we receive about 500 applications for 35 seats every year,” informs Satish Bhatia, course coordinator, Postgraduate Diploma in Television and Film Production, Xavier Institute of Communication. 
   There are many avenues that one can explore if they have an interest in the field. There are certain specialisations which need formal training and there are a host of others which do not. 


Film Critic/Journalist:

Though formal training in film studies or film appreciation is not a pre-requisite to become a film critic, the importance of formal training cannot be undermined. “Training is essential for any kind of criticism and it may not be in the form of a course. However, it is necessary to study the evolution of cinema, the basic theories of film studies. Other essentials include some knowledge and exposure to the great masters of cinema from around the world and acquaintance with the contemporary developments in the medium,” avers a film critic with over a decade of experience. 
   It is important to know that one cannot work in any field without learning the basic language and rules of engagement. The patience to watch films over and over again and the keenness to study and understand the medium — its mechanics, its evolution, the diverse and innovative ways in which has been used — are crucial to succeed as a film critic. 
   The job of a film critic includes reviewing films, keeping a track of the developments in the film industry, conducting celebrity interviews as well as attending film premieres and festivals. “After considerable experience and with accurate grooming, a film critic can even go on to direct or produce films,” says Chandrashekhar Joshi, film research officer, Film and Television Institute of India. 
   Other careers related to the film industry but which do not require a formal training in films studies include film distribution, film curator and film archivist. 


Direction: The director is the captain of the ship; he brings his creative vision to the screen. He/she works in close coordination with all the major departments and is responsible for the end product. The components of a course in direction would include the techniques of storytelling through cinematography and screenplay writing, editing, casting and directing actors and managing a film unit among other things. “Apart from knowing the technicalities of filmmaking, a basic reading and grasp of other disciplines like architecture, history as well as sociology is crucial for a good filmmaker,” declares noted film director, producer and writer Saeed Mirza. Joshi adds, “Leadership and decision making qualities along with creativity are the key to success in the field of direction.” 

  Production: A producer is responsible for raising finance and managing the budget as well as marketing of the film. He/she also needs to manage the entire technical and creative resources like negotiations with the cast and crew including the technicians as well as making agreements with the distributors and financers. A producer needs to have good communication and managerial skills. A thorough knowledge of the film business is absolutely imperative. 

   Screenplay Writing: Screenplay writers create characters, devise the plot, develop the storyline and then pen down the screenplay. They need to carefully write entire details right from the dialogues, expression of actors, the sequence and the ambience of a film. In short screenplay writing refers to actually writing down the entire film on paper, including the minutest of details. They need to keep in mind that what they write can be filmed keeping in mind the budget and resources available. It is obvious that good creative writing skills are a must. 

   Editing: The job of the editor is to arrange the film in a sequential order. He/she views the processed film and video with production personnel to analyse, evaluate and select scenes. He synchronises the sound track and adds special effects wherever necessary. The job invovles technical as well as intellectual skills. “Narrative skills, and the understanding of a script and screenplay are crucial characteristics of a good editor,” states Umesh Gupta, HOD, editing department, Whistling Woods International. 

   Cinematography: A keen eye is what you need to succeed in film photography. This field is as much technical as creative with in-depth knowledge of camera angles, shot and movements being imperative. Professional training is a must; a person with a basic graduation is admitted into cinematography courses. 

   Animation: “Currently the scenario for animators in India is extremely bright, with a number of international production houses coming here. The increasing use of SFX effects in Hindi films has also contributed to the boom,” informs Gokul K, HOD, animation department, Whistling Woods International. Basic drawing and painting skills are extremely crucial for an animator. Animators must also be artistically inclined, imaginative and able to create new ideas as well as possess excellent drawing skills. 

   Audiography/Sound Mixing: As the name suggests those in this department are responsible for the sound effects in a film. Recording, dubbing and mixing of music, dialogues and other sound effects are part of the job. The sound mixer or engineer composes the various elements of the soundtrack and edits it to give it a final shape. A degree/diploma in audiography or electronics is required. For admission to these courses a science background at plus two level is preferred. 


A basic graduate degree (except for courses in animation which require a minimum qualification of 10+2 or a diploma in fine arts) is a pre-requisite for admissions to all courses conducted by governmentaided institutes. Private film schools admit those with a minimum qualification of 10+2 to any of the courses. Students who have studied physics at the plus two level are generally preferred for audiography courses. Admission to courses is either through entrance exams or interviews conducted by institutes. 


The fee structure of each course varies from institute to institute and from course to course. However, the average fees may range from Rs 55,000 to a whopping Rs 11,50,000. Fees for animation courses vary from Rs 1,20,000 to Rs 8,50,000 depending on the course duration as well as institute. Fees for screenwriting courses vary from Rs 50,000 to Rs 8,50,000 again depending on the institute and the duration of course. 


Fresh graduates are normally absorbed by the industry as assistants on a freelance or assignment basis. Though graduates can take up independent opportunities, a few years of experience under a professional proves to be beneficial. Screenplay writers can expect to become assistant writers, copy writers, content writers and in-house writers for various production houses and channels. 
   However there are different opinions on the demand of fresh trained talent in this industry. “The industry is fairly receptive to freshers who are trained,” declares Bhatia. There are many who agree with this proposition and feel that the industry is accepting trained professionals with open arms. “The industry has now understood the importance of trained professionals and many film makers now prefer to hire skilled people rather than hire those who have no formal training and may require time to learn. Moreover, hiring trained professionals helps save production costs as they already know their job,” adds Joshi. Though Mirza too agrees that job opportunities are immense, he also adds a note of caution: “If you are in the field of film making and want to send a message through your artistic vision in these times of mindless entertainment, you have to be prepared for a path of struggle. Financers attach more value to stars than to a good script.”


The Indian film industry is largely unorganised and produces films of starkly varying budget. “There is no definite figure that a fresher can command, everything depends on the kind of film you are working on. But production students do not get a very high pay cheque for their first job,” informs Bhatia. In the technical field your first pay cheque can vary from a four digit figure to five digit one. “The money you get really depends on your talent and varies even among students of the same class,” opines Joshi. However, once you have carved a niche for yourself the sky is the limit. 


Generally institutes either compress all aspects of filmmaking, such as direction, production, editing and screenplay writing into a single integrated course or offer separate courses in each of the above mentioned fields. These courses equip one with practical training with latest equipments in the field of their choice. 

Film and Television Training Institute, Pune,  (offers three-year PGD in direction, cinematography, editing and audiography; the institute offers one and a half year and one year PG certificate courses in animation and screenplay writing respectively.) 

Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata,  (offers a full-time three-year PGD in Film and Television with the options to specialise in direction and screenplay, cinematography, audiography or editing in the second and third year) 

Xavier institute of Communication, Mumbai,  (offers a PGD in Television and Video Production) 

Jadavpur University, West Bengal 

Whistling Woods, International Institute for Film, Television, Animation and Media Arts, Mumbai,  

AKJ Mass Communication Research Centre, Delhi 

Zee Institute of Media Arts, Mumbai,  (offers courses in direction, production, editing, cinematography, writing, sound and film animation and visual effects)    

(Indicative listing)



   Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


1 comment:

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