‘Speaking the unSPOKEN’ – Aayush Agarwal

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The documentary, ‘unSPOKEN’, is a journey of a forty-year-old man, in a seven minute time span, about how he stands strong, not only for himself but for others like him. It is an attempt to speak about the taboo that is not spoken about even though there are victims and abusers of the same almost everywhere. This film speaks about one case in particular, and how the protagonist ‘got over it’ by immersing himself in art.

The film starts off with an empty canvas that is being filled by Ganesh. As the journey progresses, you realize that there are emotions that are splashed onto the canvas which eventually end up creating art. The painting has a very deep meaning that can be relatable to anybody who has a buried trauma haunting them. Film, according to me, is a very strong medium to reach out to people. Through this, one can make people more aware of what’s happening around them, with their friends, family or children. Things could happen to anybody – and unfortunately, can happen anywhere.

Being the director, I wanted to keep the film as real and as untouched as I could especially while showcasing any aspect of his (Ganesh’s) life. The script was kept crisp so that we keep the film short and to the point. I did keep in mind that it was important for me to get to the roots from the beginning, especially since he was bullied ever since childhood. The script was written, narrated and visualized by Ganesh himself. Revanth Vojjala (our film’s cinematographer) and I sat down with him after the final draft was written and it was then that we started to give it a structure.

This was something that Ganesh wanted to do for about a year but for a few reasons it hadn’t happened. Coincidentally, I wanted to make a film about this as well. One day over dinner I shared my idea with him and he said, “I think it’s time”; Ganesh went on to elaborate on how he himself wanted to create awareness about child sex abuse for a very long time. We decided on releasing it on November 19th because that day marks World Prevention Day for Child Abuse.

From a film maker’s perspective, the team had a few obstacles because of the subject of the film. Ganesh had a lot of emotional moments throughout. He was brave and had the courage to speak out loud. Revanth and I tried to ease the situation by our banter and bring a smile on Ganesh’s face.

unSPOKEN’ is not just a film for me. As a director there were times when I would be concerned about how sentiments shouldn’t be hurt, and I had to take extra measures, but all that kept aside, the fact that this was so important to all of us, drove Ganesh, Revanth and myself to sail through.

I had a brilliant team to work with, including our editor Punith Mahesh. I just let everybody do their job, not only because I trust them, but also because they’re all so good at their jobs. This helped the entire process go on smoothly and we had a good time shooting. Fun fact, on the day of the shoot we had the location for about 2 hours, so the painting in the film has been made in less than an hour!

We got to spend some time with the kids and that for me, was the most colourful part of the film. The kind of energy they got to the set added a fresh and positive vibe, lightening the baggage of emotions we had been carrying throughout the shoot.

My collaboration with Ganesh Nallari managed to fall into place so well because we were good friends even before having the ‘Director-Producer’ equation. This made the entire process much easier and ignited a vibe to just go and get things done. All the hardships and obstacles said and done, the end result was all worth it.

Iha Sharma #TalksRed !

Iha Sharma #TalksRed !Red Fist started as a simple idea. Aman Bhardwaj and Ashwin Rajashekar, the Literary Club representatives, when they’re not joking around and cracking everyone up, actually do have some brilliant ideas; Red Fist was one of them! From a simple idea to a successful college-wide event, it was a rollercoaster ride, one that all Red Fist volunteers would love to stand in line for, for multiple rounds.

Incepted from the concept of open mic sessions, this was a vocal fest propagating free speech and freedom of expression. Solidarity was the foundation of the fest. As an art school, it is imperative that patrons of all fields, be it filmmaking, animation, advertising, journalism or photography, are united and support each other. Not only students, but faculty and staff were also invited.

Our Dean was ever so supportive and with a lot of help from our beloved student coordinator Lyzandra Lewis, Red Fist became such a success. Our chief guest was Bajrangi Bhaijaan writer Vijayendra Prasad, and the event was hosted by the much loved advertising student, Aayush Agarwal.

Red Fist consisted of 7 different events:

Debate, with a twist. In the debate, instead of a conventional for/against a statement rule, the opposing teams were given 2 different films based on the same core topic and genre, and they had to defend their film. The two films were – Company (2002) & Gangs of Wasseypur (2002). With just a very little margin, the team with Gangs of Wasseypur won. The event was judged by the very equipped editing faculty duo of Rima Mazumdar & Amit Prasad.

Poetry Slam, a literary event to its core, it was judged by Padma Ramesh, who seemed to enjoy all of the performances. Vaishnavi Mudaliar from BFA 1 took the 1st position with her extremely relatable poem on best friends.

Monologue, the blend of speech and drama, was judged by Mr. Vijayendra Prasad, who was really moved by the winner BFA 1 student Suman Chowdhary’s performance. An emotionally-charged performance about the complicated relationship that every woman shares with her mother, Suman left those present at the event, teary-eyed.

Singing, an event which needs no introduction had everyone humming along to the performers. Krishna Priya, a first year animation student, wowed everyone with her energetic performance and came first among the 5 participants. The event was judged by the enthusiastic duo of Sanjeev Kumar & Debkanta Chakrabarty.

Standup Comedy, one event that saw a single participant in BFA 1 student Harshvardhan. Harshvardhan’s initiative was much appreciated, and the audience enjoyed a lot.

Lip-Sync, an event popularized by American show host Jimmy Fallon recharged the whole venue with energy as the participants not only lip-synced to their respective songs, but also performed with the audience. This interaction even made the faculty dance along. Mansi Khandekar stole the show among the participants and the event was judged by the colourful personality that is Vivek Pandey.

Open Mic is one event that saw the faculty on stage without any will to leave. Our respected Dean sang on stage twice! Sanjeev Kumar, Samrat Chakrabarty, Amit Prasad and Vivek Pandey, lit the stage on fire.

The Literary Club is elated by the success of Red Fist and with the feedback that we’ve received. We hope to see Red Fist become an annual event henceforth. Ashwin Rajashekar says, “I’ve always wanted to organize a fest in this college. We have been planning since the past four years. Who would have thought changing one letter could make it possible? (The event was called ‘Red Fest’ previously when it had been canceled) I’m grateful to all the club representatives and volunteers for their hard work. This fest wouldn’t have been possible without them. Now, I plan to organize the fest annually, twice. Both intra and inter-college. Let’s hope for the best.” “All the hard work paid off. Despite a few setbacks, the Red Fist team managed to put up a good show. I’m glad we’ll go down in the history of AISFM as the team which organized the first ever fest in college.” added Aman.

Team Members:

Organizers:
Aman Bhardwaj
Iha Sharma
Ashwin Rajashekar
Shubham Jajodia

Debate:
Shivam Sinha
Aditya Adholia
Sagar Kaushik
Abhishek Khapre

Poetry Slam:
Tanya Chhabria
Gehna Maheshwari

Monologue:
S Venkat Narayana Murthy
Anirudh Kompella

Singing:
Thanmayi Dayala
Joysuryo Paul
Joshua Thakur
Raveesh Sood

Stand-up Comedy:
Ashwin Rajashekar
Mithun Soma

Lip-Sync:
Tarun Panwar
Purvangi Ranjan

Lighting:
Akash Subramaniam
Abhipsa Sahoo
Sreyash Myneni
Aditya Adholia

Sound/Technical team:
Rishabh Lalwani
Ashwin Rajashekar
Adharsh
Adithya Vinayaka
Abhishek Kothari

Decorations:
Karishma Kumar
Prema Clayton
Vandana Prabhu
Shubham Jajodia
Sagar Kaushik
Adithya Vinayaka

Special Mention:
Hari Doshi
Raj Anna

Samantha visits AISFM!

 

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Spotting a celebrity at the AISFM campus has become a common occurrence over the years, thanks to the support of our founding family. Actress Samantha was seen at the campus grounds recently, along with our Honorary Director, Amala Akkineni. Samantha Ruth Prabhu is a popular Indian actress and model. She has established a career in the Telugu and Tamil film industries, and is a recipient of three Filmfare Awards!

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Amala gave the actress a tour of the AISFM campus and the new block that was recently inaugurated, Maya Bazar. They then took a small detour and found themselves amidst a lively discussion on storytelling in one of the classes taken by our faculty.

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Coincidentally on this very day, the students held a small programme for their faculty on the occasion of Teacher’s Day. Amala and Samantha, both joined in on the festivities. The students played a few games with their teachers, and Samantha was asked to say a few words on the occasion. She got nostalgic and reminisced about her days in college and spoke to the students about how they must cherish all of the memories they are making. She went on to comment on how a film school is a fantastic opportunity for budding talent and also mentioned her desire to one day, join one of the courses here, at AISFM.

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“It was a dream come true to see myself on the big screen”

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“A dream come true to see myself on the big screen for the very first time,” says she excitedly talking about the short film that is garnering more hits by the day on Youtube. Tanya Joshi, a BFA student from AISFM, is slowly but surely trying to create her own space in the celluloid world. One first step towards that is her stint with the short film Amrutha 96.4 FM. Talking about it all is Tanya here!

So, was it a childhood dream coming true? “Yes, definitely especially coming from a family who is nowhere related to the film industry. It seems more like a fairy tale, but I still have a long way to go. I really look forward to working in films soon. I personally feel that being in AISFM, I have got all these opportunities. The first ever acting project I did was in Annapurna (the music video), then I got this short film Amrutha 96.4 FM. Since then I have never looked back,” she says.

Recollecting how it came by her way, she says “Well, after the music video I started working with a lot of college students in Annapurna. I worked in their semester-end projects. People in college did notice my interest in acting and a lot of students referred my name to independent filmmakers in Hyderabad. Then out of the blue, I got a call from Kishan Katta (Director of Amrutha 96.4 FM). We sat down to read the script, I loved it and so I decided to do this project.”

How does she feel, after the star status it has achieved? “Ha-ha…Wow star status. I think it’s too early to say that I have achieved a star status. I still have a long way to go. But yes I am very happy that few people do know me in Hyderabad because of my acting. I would really thank AISFM for that. I got a lot of exposure because of this college. So I would still say that it’s way too early to say the star status thing. But I am grateful that at such an early age I have started my journey as an actor,” she goes on to say knowing it’s a hard way ahead.

Learning a new language was just one of the things she learnt whilst the making of the short film. Says she, “The only set back that I faced was that this short film was in Telugu, so I really had to learn the language. Also it was for the first time that I was working with an unknown crew. So it took a while for me to understand how things work here.”

Other projects she has been involved with so far are with her seniors’ projects like Pheli Supari, AISFM music video, In Love Dubara, Sales Girl, Lakshman Rekha (The Unwritten Law)  and she has now started doing dubsmashes, which have become quite popular on Instagram.

So, what’s next on the plate? “I am getting calls for many short films, but at the moment I am trying not to take up too many projects in hand as I am in the final year of my degree (BFA in Film & Media). I have taken some time off to work on myself, to make myself ready for the film industry. I am only focusing on myself and the final year of college. If I get a really good project in hand then I would consider doing it,” she says.

Talking about the whole experience of performing, she says, “The whole experience of working in Amrutha 96.4 FM was mind blowing. The shooting of this project was so much fun, as the character Jenny is always hyper and bubbly. That’s how I am in real life as well, so I was able to relate to the character. Before the movie released on YouTube there was a special screening in Prasad’s theatre. So that was a dream come true to see myself on the big screen for the very first time. It recently crossed one lakh views on YouTube. Hence, I am extremely grateful that I am in AISFM because of which I got so many opportunities and I am pretty sure that once I graduate from this prestigious institution, I will have a beautiful journey to look forward to.”

Check out the teaser of the short film http://bit.ly/2bitbxx and the short film itself here

Vividh Ashok: “Never underestimate the power of Marketing”

There are two things in life: Something you are good at and something you want to do. Finding the perfect union between the two is what is going to take you further in life. Read on to know what else our MMBA student, Vividh Ashok had to say about his internship at Annapurna Studios for the film Soggade Chinni Nayana.

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Q: How was your experience working as an intern?

A: Since I am in my senior year of the MMBA program, I am supposed to do an internship, as a part of my program. I first thought about doing an internship at an ad agency, but then I got to know about an internship opportunity at Annapurna Studios, through the college. It was an opportunity to work in the marketing team of Nagarjuna sir’s movie Soggade Chinni Nayana, and I didn’t want to let this slip away. After joining, I realized that this job was going to be much more than just the simple nuances of marketing. They called it Marketing Publicity. My job was directed more towards coming up with ideas and co-ordination. I was also part of the team that handled the front-stage co-ordination at the film’s audio launch event. It was very nice for me to see how a live event occurs. I was also handling the ‘Making’ and ‘Promo’ videos for the film.

Q: What was the most memorable part of the internship?

A: Meetings! Imagine sitting across the table from the Executive Producer of the film, along with the likes of Gemini TV, Radio City, along with Nagarjuna sir! You don’t get an opportunity like this often. I never spoke during these meetings, but sitting in that room and listening to the ideas they came up with was the best experience for me. Also, the fact that I was given a walkie-talkie and I could call people up and give them instructions was an added bonus! The way the studio worked and functioned was amazing to experience. I will never forget that.

Q: What do you take back from this experience?

A: The one thing I’ve realized, and the one thing I tell everybody is that everyone must work in a studio at least once in their life! You can always come up with your indi-films anytime in your life, but when you work for a studio, you get to know that there are a lot of people involved in the movie making process. Unless you actually get into this, you will not be able to see how it functions. One instance was how our director was there from start to finish. He could’ve easily gone back after production was done, but he didn’t. He was a part of marketing, he was making sure everything was functioning well. Even Nag sir for that matter. Being an actor, he could’ve easily avoided being involved in these matters, but he chose not to. Being in the marketing team, opened my eyes in terms of where I can see myself in the future. This has been the biggest learning curve for me. What I had learned theoretically turned out to be so much different compared to what I experienced.

Q: Did something fun happen on set that you will carry forward with you in the future?

A: Oh yes! Gemini TV had a competition during the audio launch for the general public. The contest was done and the names and numbers of the winners were handed over to me. It was my job to call them up and inform them that they won. Now, out of fifty odd people, ten responded. Even after the event so many of the people kept calling. That was funny! Also, meeting Nag sir on a daily basis was amazing. Getting ASPL’s tea and meals is also something I will never forget (laughs).

Q: How was your experience here, at AISFM? What advice would you like to give to your juniors?

A: Oh it was brilliant! I had heard of Annapurna Studios, while doing my Media studies in Bangalore, but had no knowledge that they were coming up with a film school or an MMBA course for that matter. I was in a class of two, so I loved the personal attention given to me, with a deep level of interaction. The way they teach here is so good, and its the reason why we didn’t leave despite the small number of students. Now, me being on the verge of completing my course, I can say that it (MMBA) is the best mix one can get of management and creativity! The one thing I would like to say to my juniors is – Keep working. It doesn’t matter whether you are in production, direction, marketing or even in the camera department. Make sure you add as much experience as you possibly can in the years you spend here. College classes are important, but you need to do something beyond your classroom. Also, work for a studio at least once in your life!

Q: Where do you see yourself, in say the next five years?

A: There are several things that I want to do. In five years, I would like to see myself being the head of my media department. I know it sounds very generic, but that’s the least I would like myself to become. To be honest, I would want to work for Teach for India, do something that makes me happy. Also, I want to produce an independent film.

Art direction decoded!

Famous art director of Indian films, Rajeevan Nambiar visited AISFM campus recently to hold a Master Class on art direction for our MA1 students. His journey began doing art direction for ad films and television serials, before being given the opportunity to work in a feature film for the first time through Ameer’s Mounam Pesiyadhe (2002).

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Soon after, he won acclaim for his work in Parthiban Kanavu (2003), before associating with Gautham Menon for the first time in Kaakha Kaakha. Since then, he has become a regular feature in the director’s ventures. He has worked for English, Hindi as well as many other regional films, including Shaithan, Ek Deewana Tha, David, Framed, Mounam Pesiyadhe and Manam.

Rajeevan’s session was an interactive Q&A class rather than a regular lecture, which is one of the reasons why students enjoyed it so much. From scribbles to photo-editing, everything regarding designing for a film was covered by him, after which he went on to speak about his experience working for films and ads, while answering students’ questions.

Rajeevan gave some very useful pointers to our MMBA students on how to work with tiny spaces for shoots on low budgets and yet make the set look good on camera. He told them how different types of fabrics, foam board cut-outs and techniques like shadowing, camera angles etc. can be used by them to create certain illusions desired by them. Indian skin is the hardest to work with for an art designer, since only few types of colours and few hues of lights compliment it, a quick fix for this too was given to the students; by him.

When asked what differences have come forth between art direction over the years, he mentioned how, during 1979 and 1998 movies were shot outdoors more, rather than inside studios. According to him, that is when the concept of art direction as a whole had its downfall. Before this time period, the art directors managed everything, but now directors give their inputs and art directors build on those inputs with their out of the box ideas. This combination is what makes the films better these days, he said.

He spoke at length about the different ways the camera can be cheated. For example, using paint for creating effects of marble/granite for the walls or using prints of the desired design on matte/textured papers can be used as cheats. The only thing that matters is their usage, he said. The number of shots the prop is used for, the time period of use and the number of people handling it helps determine which method is used for building. He spoke of how, for example, a church is first designed in the studio, and only after its approval is the location selected. An entire 3D walk-through of the set is done before a location is finalized for the actual shoot. This not only saves the filmmakers money, but also a lot of time and effort as well.

As the final aspect of the class, Rajeevan told our students a little bit more about set designing; what costumes are worn, what the tone (colour) of the film is, what themes are used by the director, and all that determine the set that the designers have to build. He also spoke about the differences between feature films and advertisements and said, “Ads are more specific when it comes to their design while feature films need a lot of research. These are the two aspects that differentiate them; every other thing is the same.”

When one of the students spoke of his ideas that were called ‘out-of-the-box’ and ‘bizarre’, he quickly jumped in to say that in the end, when it comes to the rules and boundaries of design, there is nothing that is right or wrong. The only thing that matters is whether it works for the film or not, he said.

Mauleenath Senapathi, full-time faculty of Direction, who also attended the session said, “Art Direction as we filmmakers recognize, is a vital aspect of filmmaking. As a subject of study Art Direction is particularly relevant for the students specializing in Direction and Cinematography. The significance of the master class conducted by ace Art Director Rajeevan has to be seen in this context. Rajeevan’s oeuvre of works across different genres of Indian cinema is evidently significant. Going by my observation and discussion with the MA 3 students following the master class, they have immensely benefited from this session. Art direction incidentally was one area which found less focus so far in the film course of the institute. As the MA 3 batch is approaching their mise-en-scene exercise where art direction plays the pivotal central role, this master class will go a long way in sharpening the concerned students’ understanding of the relevance of art direction and what it can creatively offer students, for them to explore cinematically in the projects that lies ahead.”

How To Master The Business Of Cinema

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If you love the movies, you’ve probably heard of Harvey Weinstein, Michael Baker or Siddharth Roy Kapur. These are the men on whose nod the fate of a film depends.

Do these all-powerful studio executives accept or reject a film proposal based on whim? Are they educated enough to influence decisions regarding script changes or decide on allocation of budget? Well, going by studio track record, the answer to these questions is a resounding yes.

The ever-growing movie industry in India today sees all regional film industries collaborate with one another. They produce big budget films, organise blanket promotions and even have tie ups with Hollywood studios. They function in a highly corporatized manner. To this end, the industry is in constant need of professionals who not only understand the creative side of filmmaking, but also have the acumen for business and branding.

AISFM’s Media MBA (MMBA) programme prepares individuals to take on such corporate roles. Vividh Ashok, an MMBA student is currently having a first-hand experience at line production and managing, thanks to the student films that are being shot. “There are a lot of roles in the corporate arm of the film industry. The MMBA programme is a great learning experience for many, who wish to pursue a career in studios,” says Vividh.

Ditto with Aishwarya MP. “The MMBA programme is an
eye-opener to the various job opportunities in the business. For those who love films, the programme integrates their passion with an MBA degree,” says Aishwarya.

The duo is enjoying their stint, getting a first-hand experience while on sets. Vividh who is the line producer on a student film, throws light on his job responsibilities. “It’s a tough job to execute a film start to finish. Sometimes the light guys give trouble, sometimes the generator does not reach on time – all these little issues disrupt the call sheet and the cost of production goes up,” says Vividh.

“My job is to solve these issues and stick to the plan. It’s all about management and persuation,” explains Vividh, adding, “Since I have a Bachelor’s degree in filmmaking I know the creative side of the business, so I’m able to negotiate with the director and be involved in the creative process as well.”

For Aishwarya, working on student film projects has been a complete eye-opener. “The programme teaches you a lot about production, co-ordination etc., to keep the shoot going. You sit in class and learn about it theoretically, but when you experience the whole process of shooting, you realise there is so much happening,” explains Aishwarya.

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The duo is of the view that an MMBA programme opens a lot of doors in showbiz. “I come from a TV background. I love the whole process of movie-making, but I’m not really comfortable in front of the camera. So the MMBA programme is perfect for someone like me who loves being involved in other aspects of the business,” says Aishwarya.

And the best part, according to her, is the degree certificate. “My mom is happy that I’m doing an MBA and will have a degree in a subject that I’m passionate about. So, it’s a perfect marriage of parental sensibilities and personal interest.”

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Masters student Varun Chaphekar was selected by AISFM to be a part of a three-week filmmaking workshop by the International Filmmaking Academy in Bologna.

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