Evade Subrahmanyam fame Nag Ashwin at AISFM

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One of his first short films headed straight to the Cannes, no less! Then his first directorial debut was not just a hit film but was also critically acclaimed. Nag Ashwin, young and upcoming writer/director, had an interactive session with our students.

In 2013 his short film titled Yaadon Ki Baraat was selected for the Cannes Short Film Corner.

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Before his directorial debut Yevade Subramanyam, Ashwin had worked on a few films as an assistant director including on Sekhar Kammula’s Leader and Life Is Beautiful.

He’s currently busy in pre-production of his pioneering bio pic Mahanati in Telugu/Tamil/Malayalam on the life of the late legendary southern actress Savitri.

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Talking about his journey in films, he spoke at length about the hard lessons he learnt shooting in the most unfavorable circumstances in Himalayas with absolutely no vehicles at their disposal. He had to keep the crew & cast morale amidst snow, subzero temperatures, and virtually no oxygen in some places. He shared with students that his passion & only passion for his story & characters could keep him going. Nothing else.

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Our Dean of Academics and Faculty, Direction & Screenwriting, Bala Rajasekharuni, addressing the students said, “Ashwin is a good role model to the upcoming filmmakers, since he’s from a film school and he stuck to his passion while choosing his film subjects. Evade Subramanyamis a classic example of how one can write from their heart and at the same time honor the commercial realities of the industry. A delicate balance, which Ashwin achieved with his debut, which is remarkable. This balance is what we try to teach at AISFM all the time.”

AISFM Business Administration Faculty Wins Award

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Our MMBA faculty MNVVK Chaitanya has won the ‘Best Twitterati and LinkedIn Connect Award’ (individual category) given by Awarding ​B​ody ASMA (Adoption of Social Media in Academia), which aims to recognize and promote the outstanding contribution of individual and academic institutions involved in innovative and unique practices of adopting social media in academic development and enriching learning and pedagogical experience through honor and awards.

Chaitanya has 14 years of experience in the field of learning and development, academics, media education, policy research and management education.

Speaking to us about winning the award and his journey with AISFM, Chaitanya shared his thoughts as below.

How does it feel to win this award? Your first thoughts when you came to know that you won this award?
There are few professors and digital marketing experts that have won the award in this function, and many other academicians and experts that haven’t. You just do the best you can and personally I feel lucky enough to get it.

More than the award, what I liked more was the fact that all the flag bearers of the field of academia, research, policy making (AICTE, AIU etc.) and industry came under one roof and shared their ideas about tools and techniques of social media that will usher educational institutes towards the direction of chasing excellence in social media strategy and execution. I was informed by the awarding body that the selection process was indeed rigorous and comprehensive, wherein the audit team found my candidature to be apt. It seems I scored very high in select parameters related to postings, likes and updates, specifically on LinkedIn platform.

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Your thoughts on the ‘adoption of social media in academia’; its relevance and its setbacks, if any?
As has come out very clearly in each of the four different technical sessions in ASMA, ‘social media in academia’ is no longer a choice. Indeed it is an imperative. For a vertical like media education, which is constantly ever-changing, characterized by myriad technological and business innovations and ever increased pace of internalization, leveraging the tools and techniques of social/digital media is the only way forward. I am of the strong opinion that for tasks like sourcing great guest faculty speakers, increasing industry interface, showcasing the success stories of students, reaching out for academic advisory (more so in international subjects like international co-productions and transmedia story telling and etc), social media paves the way, in a very cost efficient manner and mode. No one can doubt the increased effectiveness also (in addition to the great efficiency).

How do you plan to take this a step further in the teaching level?
I am learning a lot by reading relevant literature and books in this area. As a constant and ever curious learner, I plan to integrate social media tools and techniques like LinkedIn polls, Linkedin Groups etc. for efficient teaching delivery methods and usage in MMBA programme’s thesis projects.

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How has your teaching experience here at AISFM helped you in your career and in winning this award?
AISFM happened to me in 2012 as a lucky accident, wherein and whereby, I managed to make a seamless and smooth transition from the ‘non-happening world of economics/general management’ to the ‘very happening’ world of  film and media education. I have been learning a lot from faculty peer groups and ‘ART’sy students in the creative programmes like BFA and MA (film making, animation etc.). As they say in creative businesses, this overnight success (bagging this award) happened over a period of five long years 🙂 The five year stint here has made me appreciate the importance of creative thinking, power of ingenuity and very importantly, the art of marrying arts with commerce, more so, in media education (theory and practice).

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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AISFM’s Pioneering Teacher Training Workshops Launched

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“How did you learn to learn?” A thought-provoking question that sets you to ponder deeply about the teacher-learner relationship. This was just one of the many questions and thoughts that set out the attendees to deliberate upon. Various pedagogical strategies like Experiential and Reflective learning, and Critical Pedagogy among others were explored at the ‘International Teachers Training Workshop’ conducted by AISFM in collaboration with Critical Education Academy, USA. Select school teachers from various International Schools from twin cities participated in the daylong intensive teaching methodology workshop brainstorming on ‘why we teach the way we teach and how to teach the next generation.’

Launching the workshop, AISFM director Amala Akkineni said, “We have been in the Film & Media education for the past five years and we take pride in ourselves as a holistic educational institution, and one of our missions is to improve the quality of education around us by actively participating in and advocating educational research in India. Hyderabad education scene is currently as vibrant as ever before with the advent of numerous international schools, institutions and work spaces.”

Workshop directors, US based Educational Experts Dr. Ambika Gopal Raj, Ph.D. and Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D., took the participants on a rigorous daylong journey through various educational methodologies that are changing the face of education in the United States & other Western Countries today.

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Dr. Ambika Gopal Raj, Ph.D. (USA), is a Professor at the Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles. In her 16 years of teaching career, she launched various M.Ed. & MA programs, developed new methodologies in education with a synthesis of experiential learning, critical pedagogy, creative pedagogy and “storying”(as opposed to ‘storytelling’) as a novel way of looking into one’s own learning process. She has also authored a book titled ‘Multicultural Children’s Literature: A Critical Issues Approach’, a SAGE Publication, which is readily implemented as an official text book for M.Ed. programs in various US universities.

Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D. (USA), Professor, Secondary Education, Western Washington University, Seattle specializes in using Film & Media as a way into formal education to enhance the learning experience covering multiple intelligences as well as critical thinking and creative thinking in secondary level students.

Amala Akkineni, Honorary Director of AISFM, speaking about this pioneering effort and the thought behind launching these workshops, said “These two reputed educationalists from the United States – who are known for such transformational workshops for educators encouraged the participants to pause and take a look at various new approaches in education the world today. Learning cannot be forced or commanded. It is a complex process. The mounting pressure on students to get higher scores does not help. We hope our efforts will bring in breakthroughs of pedogogical research for teachers in Hyderabad and across the country.”

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Elaborating further, she said, “One cannot live in isolation or expect to succeed standing alone. Our students come from across the country, and to enter their worlds to let them know about the career options they could have is certainly our responsibility. But before that we need to lay the foundation in the education system itself that each student is unique with his/her own learning style and  yet, they are the products of a combination of social, geographical, cultural convergence of all he or she has been exposed to during the growing up years. Providing a space for teachers to take time to re-discover themselves as learners, helps their renewed understanding of their own teaching processes and styles.”

Bala Rajasekharuni, Dean of Academics and Faculty of Direction & Screenwriting, speaking about this initiative said that, “this is just the beginning of an ongoing outreach program that AISFM has launched. In future we will introduce workshops for school children also. This will bring awareness among them about other educational opportunities beyond the existing conventional choices. This can result in helping them chose a career path of their own choice that utilizes their innate talents to the fullest.”

Participating teachers lauded AISFM’s efforts in launching such a program for the benefit of local educational system. They were from various schools of the city, and received a Certificate of Participation, from Amala Akkineni. They also received a membership in AISFM International Education Network to attend such future events, and an ongoing mentorship by AISFM’s Academic Advisory experts from United States.

American Education Experts share their Views on Changing Face of Education

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AISFM always setting a path for the future, making a difference and transforming lives, launched a series of International Teacher Training Workshops in collaboration with US based Educational Experts, Dr. AmbikaGopal Raj, Ph.D. and Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D., to help the quality of education in India.

Dr. AmbikaGopal Raj, Ph.D. (USA), is a Professor at the Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles. In her 16 years of teaching and research career, she has launched various new generation M.Ed. & M.A. programs. Dr. Raj has also developed new methodologies in education which are a synthesis of experiential learning, critical pedagogy, creative pedagogy and “storying” (as opposed to ‘story telling’) as a novel way of looking into our learning process. She has also authored a book titled ‘Multicultural Children’s Literature: A Critical Issues Approach’ which is readily implemented as an official text book in M.Ed. programs in various US universities.

Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D. (USA), Professor, Secondary Education, Western Washington University, Seattle specializes in using Film & Media as a way into formal education to enhance the learning experience covering multiple intelligences as well as critical thinking and creative thinking in secondary level students.

Speaking to us, both Dr. Ambika and Dr. Lauren shared their views on the challenges that teachers face, types of learning and more. Read on to find out more:
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Dr. AmbikaGopal Raj, Ph.D. (USA), is a Professor of Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles.

She feels both methods of cognitive approach to learning and experiential learning are relevant for today’s classroom.

Today’s teachers are faced with challenges of this age of instantinformation which is bombarding students by online sources, and increasingly shorter attention span of this generation being a concern, what’s your advice to the worried teacher?
Use it to our advantage – students nowadays are more media savvy than our generation – engage them with hands-on experiential activities.

Are you familiar with Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf method, which is slowly gaining popularity now? If so, what are your views on that?
It is not new. Storytelling, storying and narrative theories have been there for as long as people have been teaching. I like it a lot.

Your inputs about today’s workshop and how it can start to make a difference.
I am happy for the opportunity – I hope I can give back to my city more in the future visits.

You have taken a tour of AISFM during your visit. We’re a rare film school that is situated in a working studio. And, we have a ‘liberal arts’ approach to our education. What are your observations and views on our school, the facilities, ambience etc.?
It is fantastic! I would love to be part of this institution! Liberal Arts approach is the way to go in today’s changing times.

AISFM has hosted your workshop with an intent of impacting the local education system itself. Being a film & media school, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to our core specialty – and our core team is trying to expand beyond. What are your views on that?
I think it is great! We live in a very interactive and connected world – so why not embrace it in our education? I think “trying to expand beyond” is the key. I commend the efforts of Ms. Amala Akkineni and the Dean Bala Raj for making AISFM a true center for educational research. Pretty soon this mission is going to take off in a big way, and I’m confident that we’ll see its impact on the schools around.
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Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D. (USA), Professor, Secondary Education, Western Washington University, Seattle.

Your thoughts on methods of cognitive approach to learning and experiential learning? Which one do you think is relevant for today’s classroom?
I prefer experiential.  We learn best by doing!

Today’s teachers are faced with challenges of this age of instant information which is bombarding students by online sources, and increasingly shorter attention span of this generation being a concern, what’s your advice to the worried teacher?
Students must learn to be critical consumers of media–don’t believe everything you read/see/hear.

Your inputs about today’s workshop and how it can start to make a difference.
Today’s workshop can make a difference by working directly with teachers.  With the knowledge gained today, these teachers can return to their schools and share with their colleagues.

You have taken a tour of AISFM during your visit. We’re a rare film school that is situated in a working studio. And, we have a ‘liberal arts’ approach to our education. What are your observations and views on our school, the facilities, ambience etc.?
I love that the film school is located on-site at a working studio! Similarly, I no longer teach my pedagogy classes on my university campus.  All of my classes are taught within local schools. Here is a short film I created explaining why it’s better to be immersed in the location you ultimately want to be a part of:  https://vimeo.com/147556678

AISFM has hosted your workshop with an intent of impacting the local education system itself. Being a film & media school, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to our core specialty – and our core team is trying to expand beyond. What are your views on that?
I think the smartest thing you (or any organization) can do is work in partnership with local schools.  That’s what my non-profit organization has done in the United States: https://www.bellinghamyouthmediaproject.org/

You have conducted a workshop for our Faculty. AISFM facilitates their ongoing learning by conducting workshops like yours. What are your views on our faculty in general? Any observations?
The faculty I have met have all been friendly and professional.  They all participated in the workshop with full enthusiasm.

You have touched upon many methodologies & theories of education in your workshop. What’s your personal educational philosophy as a teacher?
I believe very strongly in experiential education. Provide students real-world problems to solve, in collaboration with one another, just as they will later in life. Gone are the days of long lectures followed by a test. That’s not how the world works.  🙂