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The Five Fundamentals of a Film Institute

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The Five Fundamentals of a Film Institute

The Five Fundamentals of a Film Institute

The Five Fundamentals of a Film Institute

Film-making has come a long way since the Lumiere brothers had organized the first public screening of the Cinematograph in Paris on the 28th of December 1895. Over these 130-odd years, the language of cinema has evolved considerably, the business of it firmly entrenched. In 2019,  the worldwide total box office turnover of movies was about 4.2  Billion USD, and India itself had its share of about 1.2 Billion USD,  which amounts to about Rs 10,000 crores.  That is huge.

The figures above are restricted to the box office theatrical collection. These films are also screened on TV and on  OTT platforms for additional collections. And then of late there are numerous short films and microfilms that have flooded the internet, opening up a huge industry there and still going strong. Add to this a-la-carte basket the other conventional media formats – the documentaries, news, TV programs, educational programs, etc… Such an industry with enormous scale would certainly need a huge number of trained professionals.

But first some essential questions. Is filmmaking a vocational craft that one could train oneself into like the operation of a lathe machine? Is it an art where one could freely express oneself, as one would do in painting or theatre? Is it a medium of advocacy that has the potential to influence the course that the society would take? Does it have the power to support the market – the service and the production industry? The answer would be all of these. It is but natural that to cater to this vast range of its utility that cinema has, there would be an enormous need to train people in this discipline. What are the options available?

Many decades back, there were almost no colleges available in India for students to indulge in such a study. Therefore, working as an apprenticeship inside the industry was the only option available.

Slowly, a couple of institutions that provided search learning opportunities to interested students, began to pop up. Initially, they were mainly funded by the public. With the advent of TV and the internet as the range and scale of this industry increased, film-making courses slowly found its comforts into the realm of regular University Learning.

What are the advantages of systematically learning filmmaking in a reputed institution?

1. Cinematic Foundation: 

In most cinema courses the world over, in the initial part of the course the students are made to learn the craft of all the basic aspects of cinema. This means that if you want to become a director or an actor, you would first have to have a basic understanding of editing, sound, camera, acting and sound recording. It is only when the grounding of such a foundation is firmly built that you are imparted the knowledge of your specialization

2. Theoretical Foundation: 

A film institute is not just a place where you learn the craft. It also provides a theoretical framework to the craft that you would eventually practice in the industry. This means that while making the film or a media work, you would know exactly why you are doing what you are doing. That is one hell of a quality to have. Knowledge about various aspects of film studies – like the evolution of film language, the creative possibilities of the language, the history of cinema, etc… are rigorously  imparted.

3. Societal Foundation: 

Films are not made in vacuum. They come out of the society in which they are made and within which we live. This means that the subject matters of the films that you want to make are taken from your own surroundings. The more you know about your surroundings, the more authentic your films become. A film school would impart wisdom on various societal aspects such that it helps you formulate your specific view on these aspects of the society. From that empowered position, your films emerge.

4.  Practical Foundations: 

Having said the above, a film-making institute is not all about theory. If it did so, the course would have been a film studies course. In a film-making course, the students are compulsorily made to create movies – short ones to begin with. As the course progresses the films get bit by bit complex in nature  – Microfilms, short event narratives, documentaries, Music Videos, Advertisement films, Dialogue films, experimental films, and the like. Finally, in the last semester of the course, there would be a short fiction film of 15 minutes in length.  All these, your portfolio.

5. Industry Foundation: 

Film schools have regular full-time mentors who teach the art, science, theory, and practice of filmmaking. These mentors are generally well-versed in the making of films as well as in teaching how to make films. Yet, at an appropriate stage of the program, a lot of working professionals from the industry would be invited for student interaction. There would generally be workshops, study tours, and internship programmes. All these help the student to network with the Industry – even before they enter it.

It would take quite some years for one to become an independent professional if one were to directly work in the industry starting off as an apprentice. At a film school you are a film maker the moment you have made your final film and step out of college. You are now ready to make your first film outside of the institute. All just after three-four years of getting training in a college. That is the level of confidence that one would imbibe in such a systematic training system.

And of course, the bonding that you develop with your peers who would eventually be your fellow travelers in the cinematic journey would stand the test of time. It is generally seen that such a bond forged at the film institute would continue for the rest of your filmmaking life.

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