Namrata Kohli | New Delhi
Walt Disney, the American film and TV producer, said this about his profession: “We don’t make movies to make more money. We make money to make more movies”. Filmmaking may seem like a glamorous profession, but one should be in it for the right reasons such as passion for the craft, and love for films. Success doesn’t come easy, and it calls for consistent hard work, struggle and luck.
There are three ways to get into movies: You could get on a film set and gain hands-on filmmaking experience. Or practice initially by creating your own short films on YouTube and other social media, or join a formal training course. Doing all three would be fine too. You can also watch films and learn from other filmmakers. “It is important to watch at least one movie a day to build your visual vocabulary,” says Veronica Flora, film curator of the European Union Film Festival 2023 held recently in the capital city in December.
Some even land accidentally in this profession. Take the case of Abhishek Sinha, who spent 18 years as a marketing and advertising professional and made his directorial debut with Tumse Na Ho Payega, a movie that streamed on Disney+Hotstar. Sinha’s late movie break is inspiring. Or take the case of Finnish filmmaker Hanna Vastinsalo, a doctorate in molecular genetics, who left a career in scientific research to make movies that combine storytelling with scientific discovery. Her latest movie, Palimpsest (2022), is about two elderly roommates who are randomly selected for a trial gene therapy that could rejuvenate their bodies and make them younger. “I only tell stories that I want to tell. Nobody knows what works in the world of films, whether commercial or arty films so you may as well want to tell the story that you want to tell. I don’t focus on my movies being technically accurate but emotionally accurate,” said Vastinsalo on the sidelines of her Filmmaking Masterclass at Instituto Cervantes, as part of the European Union Film Festival 2023 held recently.
“(The young) are always good observers; they mimic and copy what they see. They are also willing to experiment with new things as much as they have freedom to do so. All these qualities make them a great choice for teaching filmmaking from a career perspective,” says Praveen Nagda, festival director of KidzCINEMA and Culture Cinema Film Festivals.
“Whether you want to be an actor, director or scriptwriter depends on one’s attitude and aptitude,” says Karan Chechi, director of TechSci Research, a market research agency.
The director’s job is to make a film from start to finish. His or her responsibilities involve supervising editing crews that combine footage during postproduction, advising performers on how to portray situations successfully, and collaborating with other members of the film crew to guarantee that every aspect of the production process is executed appropriately.
The producer is in charge of overseeing the production from beginning to end and serves as the group leader. From the first concept to the finished screenplay, the producer organizes funding, oversees the production crew, and grows the project from the ground up. “Producer is more like a parent – he is the one who makes sure everything is on time, everyone gets food on time, everyone gets home on time, apart from ensuring that everything is aligned from pre-production process to post production and maintains checklists and calendars,” says producer Cyril Abraham.
An important cog in the wheel is the casting agent whose job is recruiting actors and personnel for parts on a TV or film production. The casting agent is usually in charge of interviewing applicants, holding casting call auditions, recruiting actors and film professionals for projects, and interacting with talent acquisition managers regarding prospects who would be a good fit for available jobs. An editor arranges a film soon after shooting starts, combining several shots into a single, continuous sequence. From hundreds of hours of footage, dozens of distinct shots must be selected and put together in a single scene. The final film’s appearance is influenced by the editor’s decisions.
What is the cost of making a film? According to a spokesperson from production house Swastika films, “The minimum cost of producing a music video is Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh, feature film Rs 3-8 lakh, TV advertisement Rs 1-2 lakh and for a documentary film Rs 60,000 to Rs 2 lakhs. For a mainstream film, sometimes even the sky is not the limit.”
For movie makers and film professionals, the big question is always how to monetize their work. How to make these projects worth their time and financial investment? Take the case of recently launched Web Series “Sapney vs Everyone” by TVF India’s leading digital entertainment network which was backed by a financial advisory company, 1 Finance and a part of Marwadi Chandarana Group. According to Keval Bhanushali, co-Founder and chief executive officer of 1 Finance, “There were various reasons for this collaboration. One, it adds to our brand value and for us it was very important not to go out there and do advertising, marketing or hard selling. Two, we collaborated on a project which was celebrating dreams and the realization of dreams of two extraordinary individuals. Last but not the least, we wanted to align with a partner and a subject which had honesty as its core value.”
India promotes film production in the country as part of its ease of business policies. “In 2023, the government made a noteworthy statement raising the [financial] incentive for international film production from 30 per cent to 40 per cent. The nation offers a 40 percent incentive for international film production, with an additional 5 percent bonus for significant Indian content and a cap limit of more than $3.5 million. This move will boost India’s efforts to draw foreign film projects with medium and large budgets to the nation,” says TechSci Research’s Karan Chechi.
In 2023, Uttar Pradesh announced a new policy providing 50 per cent subsidy of the cost of the production if the films encompass Braj, Awadhi, Bundeli, or Bhojpuri scripts. For films made in English, Hindi, and other languages, this subsidy will be 25 per cent of the total cost.
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Graphics, visual effects, and animation are new-age careers options in cinema. “Big-ticket films having large budgets spread their production across the continents, where thousands of artists simultaneously work in multiple studios and produce seamless output. Such projects that are usually high on graphics and animation, and offer many lucrative opportunities in terms of careers,” says KidzCINEMA’s Praveen Nagda.
Voiceover artists are in greater demand as the entertainment industry expands. Fouzia Dastango quit her permanent job as lecturer at the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) to be a Dastango, an Urdu oral storytelling art form. “A good storyteller must have voice, expression, emotion, voice modulation. People should forget the person and only remember the character which is being portrayed. Also one needs to do perfect lip sync with the character in question and do minute things such as take in breath only where the character is talking,” says Fouzia, who has done voiceover in movies, radio and streaming platforms.
A film curator is also a new opening in the film world. Curators organise exhibitions and screenings to introduce films to the general public. They work with theatres, museums, and archives and they assist in the preservation of films.
Finally, if you are a lifelong student of life and learning, you will enjoy being a film maker as it explores so many different roles, characters and types of people. As American film maker Robert Altman once said- “Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.”
The table below compiled by TechSci Research enlists the key institutions that offer filmmaking courses, along with their approximate annual fee
|Approx annual fees (in Rs)
|Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
|Diploma in acting, PGD (Post
graduate diploma) in Editing; certificate course in electronic cinematography
|INR 1.50 lakh
|Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata
|Writing for Electronic & Digital Media, Direction & Producing for Electronic & Digital Media
|INR 1 lakh
|Whistling Woods International, Mumbai
|Certificate Programme in Screenwriting for Web & TV Series, P.G.D. in Media & Entertainment, B.Sc in Filmmaking with Direction
|INR 4 lakh
|Center for Research in Art of Film and Television, Delhi
|PGD in YouTube Film Making, Documentary Filmmaking, Sound Recording and Editing
|Asian Academy of Film and Television, Noida
|MSc Cinema + PGD in Cinema, B.Sc. Cinema + Diploma in Cinema
|INR 2 lakh
Source: TechSci Research