Celebrate This Diwali Differently

A 2-Day Filmmaking Workshop: Vancouver Film School

Michael Baser (Head of Department, Writing for Film and Television), Bob Woolsey (Independent Film Maker), Rodger Cove (Senior Instructor, Feature Script / Character Essentials) from Vancouver Film School were at the AISFM Campus from 18th March, 2017 to 20th March, 2017 conducting a workshop for the filmmaking students.

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While the 1st Day included covering the aspects in: Storytelling, Basics of Scriptwriting, Script to Screen, Theme and Plot building, Moving Master (single shot scene) it was followed by the 2nd Day which included activities like Blocking a scene, Scene Rehearsal, Shoot: Moving Masters, Screening. The students were a part of a discussion with the delegates of Vancouver Film School. Exchanging thoughts on the craft of filmmaking, techniques of screenwriting and the execution of an idea translating to a decent result on screen.

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Michael Baser, Rodger Cover and Bob Woolsey were impressed with the campus facilities provided and the exposure being gained by the students. “As the institute is located within the premises of a studio, it helps them getting a better understanding on a working environment while they are studying about the same,” they said. The Vancouver Film School team also would be happy to host exchange programs between their students and the students of AISFM as cultural diversity can be a key element to analyse new perspectives.

The students on the other hand, could get a better grasp of the basics that revolve around the process of filmmaking. With different stages of the workshop being aimed at mastering the basics of the craft, the students had to go through a learning curve in order to complete the workshop. As the stages of the workshop were meant to be a progressive learning for the students, it also acted as a great build up for the final product at the end of the two days.

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“My learning’s definitely are that I got an opportunity to strengthen my basics of writing and also, I understood why to keep it simple and that writing is the cheapest way to better the film on which they stressed upon on” said one of the students who attended the workshop.  As these workshops are meant to nurture the technical and skill aspect of filmmaking in these upcoming filmmakers, it enhances the basics and makes the execution of their ideas easier.

The students of AISFM look forward to more such workshops from global professionals all over the world playing key roles in the field of filmmaking. As the industry demands valid skill sets for each technical aspect, these workshops help in building a foundation for students to build an idea, pitch/sell it and by the end of it, release it on the big screen.

Graduation Ceremony of Filmmaking Short Course

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Bringing them one step closer to their dream of pursuing their passion, was the graduation ceremony of our 2016 batch for the filmmaking (FFM) short course that was held at AISFM recently.

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Popular director, screenwriter and film producer Maruthi Dasari who is known for his films like Ee Rojullo, Bhale Bhale Magadivoy etc. was the Chief Guest for the ceremony and was welcomed by our Dean, Bala Rajasekharuni and our COO, Krupakar Reddy.

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The well-known director shared his views and experiences of filmmaking and discussed the method of filmmaking while interacting with the students, who were eager to learn and absorb as much knowledge as possible, with delight.

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The students eager to explore and learn about the finer nuances of filmmaking joined this quick but comprehensive short course and realized their dream. This course provided hands on training in professional filmmaking at an introductory level and students explored the complete process of digital film-making during the course period.

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They learnt the technical aspects of filmmaking, fundamentals of visual storytelling, how to develop a short film script, pre-production of the short film, casting, fundamentals of direction, fundamentals of cinematography, fundamentals of editing and sound design. The culmination of the course was when the students in groups of five made a 5-minute short film as their course-end project.

Take a look at the Graduation Ceremony photos here http://bit.ly/2aJ4zN4

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.

“Define your own style”

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Nassar is one of those rare actors who is well-known for his realistic portrayals in Indian films. The veteran film actor, director and producer, who has worked in the South Indian film industry for more than 30 years, visited AISFM recently.

Nassar had made his acting debut in K. Balachander’s Kalyana Agathigal (1985) portraying a supporting role before moving on to play villainous and character roles.  His performance as a police officer in Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan brought him much acclaim and he appeared in pivotal character roles in Roja, Thevar Magan, Bombay, Kuruthipunal, Saivam, Uttama Villian, Bahubali and numerous other memorable films.

Nassar made his directorial debut with Avatharam (1995), a film based on the backdrop of a folk art troupe. Starring Revathi as his co-star, Nassar stated that the idea had come to him as a result of his childhood memories of watching theru koothu being performed on the streets alongside his father. This film won much critical acclaim. He has acted in about 300 films, which include Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and English language films; apart from TV serials.

Interacting with the students and sharing his thoughts on films and other topics, he had the students spellbound with his anecdotes and titbits about the sea of change that he has witnessed in his long career in films.

He stressed on the need for students to have their own style, to define their own style and be true to their roots. Citing an example he said, “There is a distinct appeal in Polish and American movies and if you talk about Indian style, it should come from your native folk arts; if you are a Malayali, then observe and learn from Kathakali. How do you define your own style? It should be from your roots. Sit back and think. Define your own style.”

He expressed his concern about globalization and said, “You will lose yourself in this globalization which is there not just in commodities etc. but also in art and music and I am concerned. We have still not derived our own ‘language’ of films. You should think about it. We are all drawn by mainstream films but we should have our own style. Being modern and contemporary does not mean you take inspiration from Western films. You have to identify yourself. You have to know the smell of your soil; you should know your culture; that will separate you from other filmmakers. You should get inspired by your own soil, music, literature and some character in your film should reflect that. You should know more about your roots than films.”

Emphasising further he said, “Technology is good, but I don’t believe in it completely. If you buy a camera, the user manual is the same for everyone. But what is the difference from one to the other? A film is just a tool. What you convey with it, is much more important.”

Stating his opinion, the veteran actor said, “it may not be right and I’m not justifying anything, this is entirely just my opinion. What is popular, need not be right. Whichever is shunned away, need not be wrong.” He further added, “You have to build a critic within yourself and you have to be very clear about what you are doing and what you know. Build a strong personality. Don’t just like everything, then you will end up copying everything. Critique and question, then you will learn.”

“We have a diverse range of music, language and literature. What we hear in Iranian films is real. In Indian films, very rarely do you find a person who speaks real. Somewhere we have missed our identity. Know life, read literature, not stories. Deurbanize yourself, breathe, eat and live your roots. Film is not about technology. Be as simple as possible. We’ve not come on par with our black & white films. For films like Nayakan and Devdas, there was no technology used. What the naked eye can judge, technology cannot understand. We’ve lost the human touch somewhere. Shoot a film on film and not digitally and see the difference.”

“As a student learn and receive all the information that you get. Be a rebel when you study. Live life, keep film secondary,” he signed off with a smile.

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From script to screen – learning the art of seamless transition

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The third semester of the MA (Film + Media) course at AISFM is a hectic time for students. Deep in some of the most complex subjects of their specialization, they also prepare to produce their graduation films.

And this year too, screenwriting students have been buried in their laptops, or staring into space, as they contemplated story concepts to pitch to faculty panels. And helping them in this process was screenwriter/filmmaker Charudutt Acharya.

He recently visited the school for workshop on screenwriting with the students. For students grappling with perfecting their scripts for their final project, the session was an eye-opener.

“Before the workshop I was happy with what I had written for my film, but Charudutt sir pointed out so areas I could improve to make the script great. The sessions not only helped developing my graduation film, but also helped me as a writer, Said Sasinder Pushplingam, an MA (final) student.

Megha Subramanian, screenwriting faculty at AISFM was pivotal in roping in the filmmaker for the workshop. “I met Charudutt in Berlin during a screenwriting competition. I was impressed by his skill as a writing mentor and his accessibility to students. When we began the process of selecting a teacher for this workshop, I immediately thought of him,” explained Megha.

Acharya has co-written and produced two Hindi feature films – Dum Maaro Dum and Vaastu Shashtra. His directorial debut, Sonali Cable, hit screens last year. “Since Charudutt just finished directing his first feature film, the script-to-screen process was still fresh in his mind. He was perfect for the workshop,” said Megha.

An intensive four-day series of feedback and writing sessions, the workshop was scattered with discussions on the current industry scenario. The sessions included analyzing the variations in writing approaches, reading film treatments and watching the films.

Students also learnt about translation from initial story to screen, individual and group feedback sessions on the students’ film scripts and writing sessions, to incorporate feedback.

I’d thought I was more of a director than a writer – someone who would direct the scripts that others wrote. However, Charudutt Sir helped me understand the importance of writing as well,” said Purushottham, an MA (final) student.

In addition to his work in films, Acharya has a significant body of work on Indian television, writing for popular shows like Crime PatrolJassi Jaisi Koi Nahi and Galli Galli Sim Sim. This helped him give students a better perspective on how different writing for films is Vis a Vis TV.

“The one hour session felt like 20 minutes, said Mansoor Ali Patel, adding, “I got a better understanding of how the industry works – how the work I do as a student ties it to the real world. I really enjoyed the workshop.”

A graduate from FTII, Charudutt, also holds an MA in feature film screenwriting from the Royal Holloway University of London. He is the recipient of the British Council’s Charles Wallace India Trust Award for ‘Mid-career Fellowship for Artists’ for the year 2006-2007.

Chris Higgins, President, AISFM, said, “It has been an incredible experience for our students to hear a different perspective with feedback on their writing. It has also been valuable for them to learn more about the industry and how their ambitions match the current scenario in terms of being a working writer and director.”

 

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