Sony lends 2 latest cams to AISFM

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Sony has proven itself to be a leader all kinds of cameras, especially in interchangeable lens cameras.  So, it was nothing short of an elated feeling when they came to the AISFM Campus.

Mr. Indraganti Naveen, Sony Alpha Regional Head formally handed over two of their latest cameras campus to Ranjit Sinha, Faculty of Photography. The best part – one of them is not yet released in India!

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The two models are Sony A7 mk2 with a 70-200 G Star lens (not yet released in India) and is Full Frame 35mm camera with great low light capabilities. The lens is a top of the line, G Star lens which is manufactured (badge engineered) by Carl Zeiss! The other cam is Sony Alpha 6300, a APS-C format, uber capable low light, ultra fast focusing camera with a 16-50 lens; and both the cameras shoot 4k video, as well.

The photography students could not resist their eagerness and started shooting with them right away! Goes on to prove that AISFM is the place to be, to learn and be the first to learn with the best!

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Manfrotto honors AISFM faculty

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Good teachers are the reason why ordinary students dream to do extraordinary things and the best teachers are the ones who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see. Teaching, the profession that creates all other professions!

On the occasion of Teacher’s Day; Manfrotto, one of the best companies in the photography field that designs, manufactures a wide range of camera and lighting equipment honored the top photography teachers in the country with the message, “Thank you for guiding us every day. Happy Teacher’s Day to all the inspiring photographers,” and they added, “They help us see the path on our journey. Happy Teacher’s Day to all the teachers that keep inspiring us.”

Ranjit Sinha, AISFM photography faculty was one of the few honored teachers along the likes of Shantanu Sheorey, Rohinton Mehta and others. Ranjit’s carrier spans over 26 years of professional photography out of which about 20 years has been in teaching! He started his teaching career with NIFT Kolkata, where he taught for eight years and since then he has travelled to many design colleges until he joined AISFM.

It is a proud moment for us at AISFM!

Congratulations Ranjit Sinha!

AISFM Inaugural Session 2017, A Great Start!

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Bright smiles and eager faces of our new set of students said it all! The AISFM Inaugural Session of 2017 welcoming the students and their families into the AISFM fold, was celebrated at N Convention Hall.

The session started off with a flourish with a montage of all the nine Grad Films of our graduating batch which proudly showcased their learning, hard work and finesse!

The Chief Guest for the session was renowned film director Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, popularly known as Krish, known for his Telugu hits like ‘Gamyam’, ‘Vedam’, ‘Gautamiputra Satakarni’ and Kangana Ranaut’s Hindi historical ‘Manikarnika’ which is under production. Lauding the students’ choice of school, he said, “all you students have chosen a very strong and good film school that has high level of expertise in cinema & backed by Annapurna Studios; no other school is better than AISFM.” Appreciating the grad films that he saw, he regretted that he did not have a chance like these students to learn at a film school. Reminiscing about a chat he had with our founder, the legendary Akkineni Nageshwara Rao, he said, “ANR garu had said that cinema is an amalgamation of multiple arts and crafts and the synthesis of all these elements form a beautiful art called cinema.” He recollected his journey of becoming a filmmaker and how he would sometimes wait outside Annapurna Studios to get a peek, and how later a long & hard determined journey brought him to the same studios as a working director on Manikarnika recently.  He encouraged AISFM students, “If I can do it, you can do it.”

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Krish then advised the students, “be passionate in doing whatever you do and absorb as much as you can from your classes. You have a great chance to learn and experience here in the live studios, be open minded and a team player. Hard work is more important than talent, and of course endurance.” He ended on a thoughtful note, “if we are failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail, so work really hard and be passionate.”

Renowned Hollywood business expert, author and President of FilmProfit, Jeffrey Hardy who is our Academic Advisor sent in his wishes for the students along with a message. He said, “I feel honoured, to be asked by the Dean, to be a part of the group that is advising particularly MMBA students. I think the business side of business is what I focus my life on and it is the business side of business is what makes everything run well. You can’t just think only about the creative side, you have to do good production, you have to have them well-managed, you have to do good distribution, you have to look for every opportunity in the market, you have manage it well, manage relationships with exhibitors and distributors and everyone else.”

Bob Brown, popular Hollywood Action Director, known for blockbusters like Transformers, Mission Impossible, Terminator, xXx , sent in his message too and said, “AISFM is a state-of-the-art international film school and is a great place to learn.”

Reputed Hollywood writer, Paul Guay who has penned titles like Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar, Little Rascals and Heartbreakers congratulated the new batch of AISFM for getting into the school. He said, “When Dean Bala Raj invited me to be an Academic Advisor for their Screenwriting program, I took time to study the school. I was impressed with all aspects of AISFM. I haven’t seen any film school that’s located on the studio lots like AISFM. You’re going to have a great learning experience and a fun ride.”

Iconic Indian director S.S. Rajamouli who created the prestigious grand epic ‘Bahubali,’ too sent in his words of advice and best wishes for the young and enthusiastic students and said, “absorb, learn, get exposed to life in the AISFM campus itself and work hard.”

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Our Honorary Director, Amala Akkineni, while officially inaugurating the new academic year 2017, shared her thoughts about how the school came into existence, “the legendary actor and AISFM Founder Akkineni Nageswara Rao would have been proud to see you all here, especially with our current students covering the event on video. It was his dream to start a school. He had said, ‘It is not enough to create a place of work but a place to train and educate is needed’ and that is how this school started. He didn’t go to any film school but he learnt by working hard as a trainee, as an apprentice. He felt that most Indian youngsters could not have access to international film & media schools, hence he started AISFM right in Hyderabad, with international standards.”

Her words of advice for the students were, “Take the plunge into learning, be passionate and become a learner for life. Don’t forget to play, have fun and enjoy. Nobody succeeds if you do not enjoy. Make friends and build a network and create wonderful work together. Your critics will push you forward, take criticism constructively and positively, learn from them and grow with them. Learn to observe, silence the judge in you and observe. You will learn every aspect of film and media here. Technology is changing every day, so create your own unique niche and remember you are special. I believe that we have the future ANR, Christopher Nolan and Rajamouli amongst the students’ right here.”

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Our Dean of Academics and Faculty, Direction & Screenwriting, Bala Rajasekharuni, addressing the students said, “Give your best in one area of your passion, then you will do good in other areas too. It is the time of meeting points of arts, education, commerce and technology. AISFM is a liberal arts school and its curriculum reflects the nature of the world today. The school is relevant to today’s times, because it has a unique structure of specializations, areas of passion and areas of technical expertise which is a craft for survival that gets ready jobs in the industry. Value interdisciplinary study in integrated phase of your degree, since today’s world is an integration of audio & visual media whether it is film, television, internet, or cell phones, all of them are at a meeting point, which demands multi-talented professionals.”

He further congratulated the parents who have allowed their children to pursue their passion and added, “To call ourselves an international school, it’s not enough to just have an international syllabus. AISFM is a true international school because; we have a global vision, and are building a strong international advisory board for all departments by the end of this year. Already three Hollywood experts are on board and many others are on their way in.”

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Padma Ramesh, Faculty, Liberal Arts & Business Communications, spoke of the importance of short and long term goals, positive attitude, creative thinking, teamwork, commitment and briefed them about the rules and regulations of the school and urged them to be good brand ambassadors of the school.

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Alumni Meher Kilaru and Preksha Trivedi spoke about their learnings at AISFM and how it made a difference in their lives. Meher, who is a student from the 1st batch, recollected his journey at the school and how Nagarjuna Akkineni called him to talk about marketing strategies for the movie Manam and how his words of advice of ‘Think big, what’s stopping you?’ still ring true to him in every aspect of life today. After working on Manam and Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu, he is now working with Radio Mirchi 98.3; he advised the students to “never lose the fire within to pursue your passion, never stop educating yourself and never lose the ability to watch a film as a common audience.” Preksha echoed the same thoughts and said, “I joined AISFM because I love movies and I had an opportunity to learn, what followed were two years of brilliant learning experience. So do everything you can and keep learning.”

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The students were then addressed by our in-house counsellor Diana Monteiro, who spoke about parenting styles and how it is important for children to have hard experiences for a life education.

The event concluded with ice breaker group activities organized by Faculty Amit Prasad, Sai Gokul Ramnath and Dr. Vijaya Raghava with freshmen as the participants.  The impromptu skits were received by the crowd with laughs, cheers and applause.

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‘Magic of Cinema’ Relived at Exhibit

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Moving Images, Annapurna Studios, Annapurna International School of Film and Media (AISFM) and Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad proudly presented a Photography Exhibition, very aptly titled ‘Magic Of Cinema’ at Annapurna Studios.

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The Magic of Cinema was a novel exhibition of black and white and color photographs which juxtaposed photographs of old movie theatres, film studios and galleries of Hamburg against old cinema houses and film culture of Hyderabad. The German counterpart focused on pictures based on archival material from Film-und Fernsehmuseum Hamburg. Exhibition concept was by Rita Baukrowitz and Volker Reissmann with artistic creation by Hauke Hatzelhoffer. Hyderabad photographs were commissioned in 2014 by India Week, Kinemathek Hamburg and Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad. Creatives and photography for this part were by the Hyderabad based photographer Prashant Manchikanti.

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The exhibition was inaugurated by the famous director Mohan Krishna Indraganti with Amala Akkineni, the guest of honour. Amala Akkineni reminisced about how magic was created literally on the very sets where the exhibition was being held. Recalling her Shiva days she said that most of the film was shot in the Annapurna studios and she had fond memories of those days. She recreated for the audience – some of whom were seeing a film studio for the first time in their lives — the whole process of ‘lights, camera, action’!

Mentioning how the studio and the film school (AISFM) was a dream of her late father-in-law, the legendary actor Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao, she said that technology had changed the face of the industry for the better.

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Mohan Krishna Indraganti, the well-known filmmaker was nostalgic when he spoke of the magic of single screen cinema halls. He was of the opinion that today’s nameless multiplexes have neither the charm nor the charisma of the old theatres. He spoke humorously of how the magic of cinema created a New York in Toronto! Viewing a film in a multiplex theatre was not the same as the audience was more likely to walk out 5-10 minutes before the film’s end so as not to get caught in the crowd or traffic. He often had to keep that thought in mind while writing his script he said jocularly. Prashant Manchikanti spoke about how and why he was inspired to take the pictures.

Padma Ramesh, Core faculty of Liberal Arts & Business Communications at AISFM, spoke about the old, cinema halls of Hyderabad which have all but disappeared giving way to multiplexes. She reminisced fondly about the ambience in those bygone days, the theatre goers and the whole culture of film watching which has now gone. She added, “I personally loved the B&W photographs of the old Hamburg theatres. I think it’s such a good idea to have an exhibition of this sort in the studio, as it was about cinema halls and the films that played there.”

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The 9-day cinematic extravaganza which was inaugurated by Amala Akkineni, was followed by the screening of Cinema Paradiso, a classic movie about a boy coming of age in WWII Italy who develops a lifelong love affair with movies, in Annapurna Studios. The exhibits will be on display from July 24th to 30th at Goethe-Zentrum.

Amita Desai, director, Goethe-Zentrum, Hyderabad said “We are excited to showcase the cinema culture of Hyderabad, the magic that is cinema, which has been with us since the 50s, is what we will discuss, deliberate and put forth for the next nine days.”

Namireddy Krupakar Reddy, Chief Operating Officer of AISFM, was also present on the occasion.

It was a stroll down memory lane that brought back fond memories for many in the audience. The event was very well received and the audience liked the display of photographs and for many it was indeed very nostalgic bringing back memories of a happy childhood outing or a teenage date!

AISFM Film Fest Showcases Students’ Splendid Work

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It’s that time of the year again, when Annapurna International School of Film and Media (AISFM) is ready to proudly present to the world, the brilliant work of their graduating students. A festival of films in the truest sense of the word, the films were shown to an eager audience that comprised of celebrities, students, friends & families, at its preview theatre over a period of two days.

The two-day festival opened with the premiere of films made by graduating final year students of BFA, MA & MMBA degrees and the films dealt with nine diversely entertaining and thought provoking topics.

It was definitely a celebration time for all the students since it was the finale of their years of hard work. Behind the arduous and fascinating process of filmmaking were various phases like selection of stories by a faculty committee, meticulous screenwriting, production planning, shooting, post-production work with the support and guidance of their dedicated faculty.

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Films by Bachelors students included “The White Field” by Karthik Parmar, “Nitya” by Abhimanyu Kumar, “Maut ka Kuan” by Prithvi Chahal and “Understanding Moksha” by Sameer Kumar.

The films by Masters Students comprised of “Preme Madhuram” by Anil Kumar, “Bhetala” by Rohit Krishna, “Kadivalama” by Ananya Ayachit, “Talaari” by Degala Sai Akhil Yadav and “Chetak” by Gandhapuneni Nandan.

The festival was attended by industry luminaries Akkineni Nagarjuna, Founder of AISFM, Amala Akkineni, Hon. Director of AISFM, veteran actor Tanikella Bharani, famous director Indraganti Mohan Krishna, young heartthrob and actor Akhil Akkineni, well-known actors Srinivas Avasarala, Adivi Sesh, director Omkar, reputed writer Gopimohan, veteran writer and actor K.L. Prasad and Bala Rajasekharuni, Dean of AISFM.

AISFM Founder Akkineni Nagarjuna lauded the students’ efforts in making the brilliant short films and added how short films were now no less than feature films in terms of the expertise they need, and he added, people can look at options beyond Pune for film education today. “I am confident that the kind of talent that I have seen here today is no less than that of any film professional.”

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AISFM Director Amala Akkineni, congratulated the graduates and said the purpose of the festival was to create a premier environment for the students as a way of celebrating their achievements in filmmaking. “We all are very excited and eager to watch the wonderful films that will be premiered over two days by our talented graduating students. The purpose of this festival is to create a platform for the students as a way of celebrating their achievements in filmmaking. Such festivals not only recognise exceptional student work but also allow insightful feedback from the jury and variety of film professionals that enhance student skills,” she said.

Dean of AISFM, Bala Rajasekharuni, lauded the students’ efforts and said “Through this grad film festival our school is committed to linking films, filmmakers, audiences and the industry. AISFM Grad Film festival provides an opportunity for the talented filmmakers to share their work and engage with working industry professionals and gain valuable advice from the experts, which helps them shape their careers in the film industry”. He further added that apart from artistic merit, AISFM also equips the student filmmakers with the commercial realities of the industry and market expectations, in order for them to succeed in the industry.

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Veteran actor Tanikella Bharani said that in the past, “the only way to learn about the art of films was either through theatre or by watching old films. After FTII in Pune, this is the only other well established vibrant film school in the country.” He added that film schools now do the job that Telugu dramas did back then which is an opportunity to discover yourself. Eminent screen-writer K L Prasad added that he is now in a role of an educator but wished someone had educated him before he entered films. Akhil Akkineni praised the students’ work and stressed on the need of film education.

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Mohana Krishna Indraganti, an FTII product himself and Srinivas Avasarala emphasised on the importance and requirement for more film schools and the need to nurture right awareness before they enter feature films. Adivi Sesh recollected his Kshanam memories, a part of which was shot at AISFM premises and congratulated the students on their outstanding films.

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Hyderabad In A Blink!

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Hyderabad In A Blink, is quite literally that! A beautiful, descriptive, engaging, creatively shot and captured video!

Capturing the various aspects of Hyderabad that make it the city that it truly is, an amalgamation of old world charm and new-age technologies, is wonderfully captured in the video ‘Hyderabad In A Blink’ shot by our AISFM BFA students.

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Directed and cut by Kushal Raj Patnaik, it was shot by Kushal Raj Patnaik, Navneeth Dodla and Shashank Dommalapati. The video by Drifting Nomads has been featured in VoxSpace, ChaiBisket and other blogs and was also featured on Radio Mirchi Love 104.

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Speaking about the video, here is what Kushal has to say:

“An interesting way of exploring the city, the project began as an experimentation of what can be done out of what we have. Being in Hyderabad for four years sure did make us feel monotonous about the city, but it all went away as we stepped out of our little cubicles and explored the city at a stretch. And I must say, the city is not just about Charminar or Golconda, but also about the various people that reside in it and the charm they have around them.”

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“The residual Iranian culture in the city, the Royal Gourmet of the Nizams and the Mughals, the Arabian Shawarma; the list shall go on until my fingers start bleeding from typing them all.”

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“This is Hyderabad seen by us in a week of amazing times, beautiful smiles, little talks over chai and don’t forget the plethora of crispy dosas that the city is known for. Hope you like the video.”

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P.S. I don’t care which Hindi you speak, Hyderabadi Hindi is the best I have heard so far!

Enjoy the video here:

 

Drone Filmmaking – Master Class & Demo Workshop

The forefront of drone cinematography has paved its way up along the technical aspect of filmmaking in the course of time. A remote controlled operation to capture the flying view through the camera connected to a so made “drone”. As captured footage is meant to ignite a stimulating emotion in the viewers mind, the drone can be controlled in a way to cater to the stimulating emotion that the filmmaker wants to portray.

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Venkat C Dilip, Cinematographer (DOP) for Oohalu Gusa Gusa Lade and Jyo Achyuthananda, was at the AISFM campus to conduct a Master Class and a Demo Workshop on how to shoot with a Drone, for our Cinematography students. Venkat, as cinematography is his expertise started off by offering his teaching on the subject of camera, light, composition and then connecting it to cinematography.

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Our guest lecturer, followed by the Master Class, arranged a Demo-Workshop where he could demonstrate the process of drone filmmaking. With the help of Venkat, our cinematography students attempted to fly a drone and experiment with it on the footage. With a couple of tries, the demo workshop managed to provide a gainful insight to the students in a broader depth of cinematography. As the students would use such techniques in their future job roles, it gave them a practice on how to get the job done in the future, this particular way.

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Venkat mentioned to the students that the vision of the eye is the best element to judge a shot’s authenticity. With the evolution of technology, it has become precisely convincing to execute a filmmaker’s vision on screen. The modes of executing the vision have varied from medium to medium. Speaking of Drones, the technique behind its functioning is fascinating and the best way to know about it is, is to use it. The students during the Q/A exchanged a decent discussion on the nuances and trend from the top cinematographers in the west, doing it right and the assistance of technology needed for achieving the footage.

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The medium is still the message. A lot of drone films are experiments to see what can be done. Eventually, those techniques will, hopefully, just become another toolset cinematographers can use, like tracking or Steadicam shots. As various mediums and concepts keep innovating, technology does too. The filmmaker with his equipment in today’s day and age can achieve anything on screen. It’s the idea, the process and definitely the execution in the end that matters. Luckily, though, directors are born tinkerers, so learning a new trick comes easy. It’s even a bit fun.

Oscars Nominations for 2017

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Come January and the entire entertainment fraternity, of course with fans included, around the world eagerly await the Academy Awards. Interest levels are high and it reaches a crescendo up to its telecast in February, when millions of movie lovers worldwide tune in to watch the glamorous ceremony.

Considered the highest form of recognition, The Academy Awards or ‘Oscars’, recognizes excellence in cinematic achievements. Did you know that the awards ceremony was first broadcast to radio in 1930 and televised for the first time in 1953 making it the oldest entertainment awards ceremony in the world.

The much-awaited and coveted list of nominees for the Oscars 2017 is finally out! La La Land is the leading contender for the 89th Academy Awards with a record-equalling 14 nominations. This includes nominations in each of the big four categories: Best Picture, Best Director for Damian Chazelle, Best Actress for Emma Stone and Best Actor for Ryan Gosling. Only All About Eve and Titanic have been nominated as many times in the past.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on February 22. Check out the list of nominations in the popular categories below. Who do you think will win?

Best Picture

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight

Best Director

Denis Villenueve – Arrival
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Damian Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Kenneth Lonegan – Manchester By The Sea

Best Actor

Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actor  

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell Or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By The Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester By The Sea

Original Screenplay

Hell Or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester By The Sea
20th Century Women

Original Score

Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Animated Feature

Kubo
Moana
My Life As A Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best Foreign Language Film

Land Of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann

“The Fall Guy”, Bob Brown visits AISFM

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Bob Brown was at the AISFM Campus addressing the students and sharing his experiences about the time he was working as a stunt man and later a stunt coordinator in a numerous set of Hollywood projects, including both film and television. Bob is also a World Champion professional high diver.

A stunt coordinator is usually an experienced stunt performer hired by a TV, film or theatre director or production company for stunt casting (i.e.) to arrange the casting (stunt players and stunt doubles) and performance of stunts for a film, TV or a live audience. He has been nicknamed “The Fall Guy” as he is known for his high falling stunts.

With a vast number of films, from 1985 to 2017, Bob is one of the most experienced professionals in the business having an experience of over 30 years. He has had a successful transition from being a stuntman, to a stunt coordinator to a second unit director and then a director/producer of his first feature film called “Urban Games”, but he enjoys doing stunts the most.

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Bob started off with an introduction about his field of work and engaged in a Q/A session with the students, speaking about his process as a stunt coordinator, while having different experiences on different films. As he has been in the industry for quite a bit, he follows his set of methods and techniques to get the output required by the director.

Filmmaking being a collaborative process, Bob and his team play a vital part in the sequencing of stunts, ensuring the actor’s safety and delivering the product as per the vision of the director. On the job, he ensures enough rehearsals are done to make the shot seem realistic.

Bob has constantly been experiementing on the move, travelling to different parts of the world and contributing to the process of filmmaking, in a global way. As the job requires a passion for the risk and threat, Bob was always, from his childhood interested in watching action movies and found the movies really fascinating.

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He draws his inspiration for stunt ideas and moves from Jackie Chan. Inspired by video games, playing them gives him a lot of ideas on thinking of a new stunt. With a technical point of view, he does prefer long takes and is also a fan of a scene with multiple cuts, if executed perfectly. As he is also well versed with editing, he endures the added advantage of knowing what he wants, right in his head.

He also spoke about the other side of the industry where a few stunt coordinators can offer a lot but with the risk of safety. Bob has the right mindset for choreographing stunts realistically and safely with the use of the “right” equipment. He also spoke about VFX and it’s relevance in the idea of any stunt. He feels the need of a healthy working relationship with the DoP and the director to be very essential for creating something great on screen.

Sets of videos of his sequences were shown to the students throughout the interaction. You could see the versatility, in his body of work as each sequence had an extra edge to it; from integrating an animal in an action sequence, or blowing up cars, or the kick-punch sequences with an accurate sense of choreography. Speaking about the difference in TV and film, he says, “After a TV sequence, I don’t get that feeling of ‘Oh! I did it!’” He enjoys doing film sequences better as the scale of it is much larger in size, he said.

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Bob believes a stunt is as good as the preparation put behind it. He is also a fan of shooting on film over digital as film is richer and has more texture. Emphasizing on the rehearsals is a key to his success as a coordinator, he said. He was also a stunt double for Jim Carrey and encourages the idea of safety and professionalism.

Talking about his journey on how it was when he started out he shared instances where he donating blood from time to time for a few dollars. With 150$ in his pocket and the willingness to go behind his dream he moved his way up slowly and steadily getting noticed by all the studio heads. His recent body of work includes movies like XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Pixels, San Andreas, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Lone Ranger, Modern Family, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief and many more.

The students were very interactive and discussed many topics with him and had a witty exchange of opinions. As Bob started out with having no film background and made his way up with sheer passion, he says, “Education always prepares you for what you are up against. It’s great that students can get an education in Film and Media prior to their work, as it makes them ready for it. Like being on a set, and knowing the functionality of it.”

Editing decoded, from the master himself!

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National Award winning film editor Akkineni Sreekar Prasad visited us for a Guest Lecture at Prasad Labs, to address our students on the topic of film editing. It was an honour and our pleasure to have him amongst us! He shared many an anecdote about his experiences while working on his award-winning films and interacted with the students.

Known for his works in Indian cinema he has worked on Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and English films and his last National Film Award for Best Editing was for his work on the feature film Firaaq. He has won the National Film Award for Best Editing seven times and owns one Special Jury Award, throughout a career spanning over two decades. Some of his notable editing works are Yodha (1992), Nirnayam (1995), Vaanaprastham (1999), Alaipayuthey (2000), Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Okkadu (2003), Aayitha Ezhuthu/Yuva (2004), Navarasa (2005), Anandabhadram (2005), Guru (2007), Billa (2007), Firaaq (2008), Pazhassi Raja (2009) and Talvar (2015).

AISFM Honorary Director Amala Akkineni and Dean Bala Rajasekharuni welcomed the guest, who needed no introduction. Sitting down for a long discussion with the students, he said that he was as nervous as he was as when editing a film. He got nostalgic about the place because he recalled that every time they finished editing a film, they come to Prasad Labs and view it. “That’s the most interesting part of a film when you see the first copy of a film and you know if it’s working or not.”

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Recollecting how his journey began in the industry he said, “It happened by chance. Dad and uncle were in the film industry. I was fascinated by books and thought journalism would be a good option. While that was yet to happen my dad asked me to come help out in the editing room and just watch and observe. During that process I got involved in working and then it became exciting because every day, every scene was a new story. I don’t know if I should regret not having a formal training but I think it is very important to have a formal training also, it’s a way of getting exposed to the techniques but it’s not the end of it. You will need to do an apprenticeship maybe but you will be much better trained than a person with no formal training.”

Students of different batches attended the guest lecture and trying to understand his perspective on various topics they asked him many questions and gained insights. Here is the excerpt of the session:

With over 300 films in your work record, what according to you is film editing and how has its definition changed over the years?
Film editing to me itself has changed over a period of time, from when I started off and today. If you go back in history, editing was started off mainly to join two strips of film, to make a video clip bigger so that they can see more. Slowly they realised the possibilities of how joining these film pieces into different forms could make it much more interesting. Then they tried to juxtapose a close up and slowly over 100 years, it slowly evolved. Initially editing was more functional and film was shot to a very bound script. As time passed they saw more possibilities in it. When I started, I was looking at it excitedly as a concept of storytelling and really never understood that editing can be much more than just joining those shots that the director wants to join to make it a scene. Slowly it sunk into me that a scene can be shown slightly in a different manner and you can withhold information, which was possible in editing. I should thank all my directors, for each one of them passed on some learning and a different perspective to filmmaking. Many people have asked me if I have a particular style but I have never felt it necessary to create a style and consciously I’ve never tried to create a style for myself. I would always try to get into a personal equation with the story and try to move with the story. Whatever is best for that story for those visuals I edit, we are not here to question what is been shot. Initially it was not possible to collaborate, but now it is easily possible to do that for the films I do, where I see the rushes immediately or two days later so I am able to give a creative input where it can still be corrected. Earlier that was not possible and whatever was given, we would try to make a structure out of it and polish it.

Editing impacting cinema as a tool for storytelling, where does it stand in the conventional workflow of filmmaking?
The whole concept of films is that you are trying to tell a story so that’s of paramount importance for the audience who is getting glued onto a scene in a particular story at some point. In our Indian ways of film, we have a lot of items inside a story and the audience has got used to it, like the leeway of songs etc. But if the story is not gripping for you at any point of time, then you would probably lose interest in the film. So the editor’s job directly is to make the story seem interesting and see to it that the story keeps moving all the time and it doesn’t become redundant or static; even with constraints like having breaks like songs or fights. The editor has to be conscious of his contribution and ensure that the story is moving in every frame of the film.

Is it a misconception that an editor comes only in the post-production of a film? How important do you think it is for an editor to be involved in the pre-production and production stages of a film?
I think it is very important for an editor to be a part of a film in preproduction itself because there are various things which he will be able to help in. In the story itself, if an editor is equipped enough to judge a story, he can suggest changes. What happens is that when you write a story most of it gets translated, 100% of it is never translated due to various problems. So even if 75% of what a director has visualized has been put on screen, then it is a huge effort. Some people don’t even visualize 50% of what they’ve written on paper. When a story is been written, there will be a lot of things that will not flow in the story and they may not be able to realise it sometimes. An editor’s insight will probably make him imagine how it will transition from one sequence to another, from one mood to another and can be corrected. And if computer graphics are involved, then it is better if the editor is involved from the beginning so that the whole system is smooth and there are no problems later in post production.

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So does editing start right from the development of the concept?
Yes, that is how it starts for me right now. But it is not fair for me to say that that’s how it could start for everybody. It didn’t start like that for me initially. Over the years I made it a point that it was not just cutting and pasting, and I started involving myself involuntarily also into the process with the director. You need to have a very good rapport and wavelength with the director. About 30 years ago lot of people would not have given importance to editing, and were very clear that this is the way it will be shot and edited. As time passed, filmmaking evolved and they realised that you could shoot more and get the best out of all the angles shot. Also with the advent of latest equipment there is a chance for us to experiment on a number of variations.

Editing starts during the shot division stage itself. Could you please explain how important editing is even for directors?
For a director also, it is very important to have an idea of editing in some way or another, maybe not in finesse or in totality. But if he knew from where it would be cut then it would be much easier for him. For a newer director it is always good to sit with the director and see how to break down the shots; why a close shot, why a wide or top angle one etc. The younger directors shoot with multi-cam and shoot all the angles for the whole sequence and then mostly leave it to the editor to decide. Just because we have all the shots, it doesn’t make sense to use all the scenes.

What are the misconceptions about editors that you have heard over the years?
Editing is not about lot of shots, editing is more about the shots that make an impact. It’s not about the number of cuts in a sequence. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of working on a digital platform. Advantages are endless because you can cut on any number of options. In the olden days they were editing on a smaller platform and they never watched it only on television, they watched it in places like this lab, so people would have an idea of how much would an expression register for a person.

Sometimes we change the story in the editing stage, can you please narrate any from your own experiences?
Once the shoot is done, we are editing in sequences and the overall flow is not seen. Once you put it into a story form you realise that there is repetition of information or obstructions, which need to be solved. 80% of the screenplay does change in the editing stage which will be in the interest of the film moving at a brisk pace. You need to show it in a concise manner. But when you write, not everyone can write like that. An example is a film called Kaminey. It had a peculiar problem which was that there were two characters and one was that of a person in action sequences and the other was of a love story. So in the parallel narrative when we put more time in the love story, the other action part was getting lost, so we had to strike a balance where it was almost uniformly similar in length. Another thing was that there was a wonderful 4-5 minute sequence in the beginning which had a great impact but at the same time what was after that was losing its impact so I had to tell the director the bad news that the scene had to go and he was shocked because they had spent lots of money on it. But as a director he didn’t buy it. In Bollywood there are screening for focus groups and their opinions were similar to mine. Then we took out that scene and showed it in other places to other groups and they liked it in terms of narrative of two brothers, so we had to remove the whole scene.

Another example is Firaaq, where there are five parallel stories and we had to maintain the rhythm of the five stories equally so that no one story got prominence. So we had to restructure the timing in such a way that the scenes end in almost a similar length. We also had to move a large chunk of the story form the middle towards the end to give it a climax for the theatre audience. Screenplay does change at the editing table to a large extent.

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What according to you makes an amazing cut?
Editing is not about showing off cuts. Probably there are situations and scenes where you show off cuts to make a point. But when the audience is watching he is seeing a movie not cuts, he does not know about cuts. We do use cuts when you want to jerk the audience into something or frighten them to create a certain effect. Predominantly you should not feel a cut and it should just flow with the story.

When our students saw Firaaq, they were surprised with the seemless editing for a topic like riots?
It also depends on the director because she was not trying to sensationalise the topic. She was affected by it and we tried to be sensitive to the issue and not sensationalise it in any way. It was her idea from the start which was to be an emotional experience. It needed that emotion to be carried forward.

It is said that an editor orchestrates the emotional rhythm, how important is the rhythm?
The rhythm is set by the story. So if that is clear to me what is that you want to convey then it helps. If you are working with people like Mani Ratnam, then he is also trying to convey an emotion even in a song, it is not an escapist song. There will be a balance of romance and story and it will not look just like a song. The amount of duration of a particular moment is important to convey a particular emotion. I follow; for every action and reaction there is a particular time. It cannot be a staccato type of editing, it will not seem real. So that amount of time you have to judge and leave. How to make it real and not synthetic is what you can set. If it is a retort, it has to be immediately etc.

In the Talvar climax conference room scene, how did you maintain the cuts?
There is a slight humour in the scene and it is a very unconventional scene for a climax where each team feels their investigation is right. So as a filmmaker we slightly have a tendency if you notice, although it seems objective, to make it look like Irfan Khan’s investigation was probably the real one. So when he was saying his lines ridiculing the others it always required the underline of the others reaction to make him look like he was making fun of them. The fun was the reactions of the others, if not it would not have lifted the scene to the level it did.

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How tough was it to show the same scene so many times from different perspectives?
That was the biggest challenge in that film for me, to start the story at the same time. Although the screenplay had the structure in place, as an editor the challenge was how much to show and how much to rewind because it shouldn’t get monotonous. So we slowly filtered out the monotony as the edit went on. If you realise the third is a short version because we realised it will not hold good. We just highlighted the points of difference or contention.

What are the job responsibilities of an intern and what hierarchy is followed once a student joins the industry?
The intern should know how to handle the equipment. Probably he/she might not know how to handle an assistant director or director, so he/she will have to observe. If he/she is becoming an editor then he/she has to make his/her own game plan. But if he/she is joining an editor as an assistant, then he/she should watch their workflow. It requires a year at least for them to get used to it.

You rarely use transitions in your films?
I don’t generally see it as a requirement, so I don’t use transitions because I feel it becomes unreal unless I am really trying to tell something. But for pure film viewing I don’t feel the need unless it’s a specific purpose like denoting a passage of eight years. Usually I am able to convey what I want to convey without these effects. For example, the jump cuts in Dil Chahta Hai.

What is your advice for budding film professionals?
Be passionate about what you are doing, whatever discipline you are going to take. In editing you need a lot of patience. You should be aware of where you are going to operate and create a market for yourself. That’s very important, so work towards that and explore that. You definitely have to experiment and try to do something different, so that you can make a mark for yourself. The most important thing is that you have to be clear where you are getting into in the industry, which market and be aware of that industry before you enter that industry.

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