AISFM Grad Film Fest 2016

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It is indeed a proud moment for Annapurna International School of Film & Media (AISFM), when our students are ready to graduate and face the world with their freshly learned and honed skills.

It was time for the Graduation Film Fest 2016 where final year BFA and MA students who completed their film making course showcased their fine skills in the short films that they made as part of their graduation films. It was held at Prasad Labs on Friday, April 29th 2016 at from 4pm to 9pm. Eight short films were screened (of about 20 to 30 minutes duration) during the film festival.

Chief Guests for the evening were; Ms. Lakshmi Manchu; famous actress, producer and television presenter who is known for her works in Telugu cinema, Tamil cinema and American television; Mr. Gopi Mohan; popular screenplay and story writer of blockbuster movies Dookudu and many more; Mr. Kalyan Krishna, who created a sensation with his very first directorial debut Soggade Chinni Nayana; Mr. Ramesh Prasad, famous Indian businessman, film producer, chairman and Head of Prasad Studios, Prasad Art Pictures, Prasads IMAX and L V Prasad Eye Institute; Ms. Supriya Yarlagadda, Executive Director of Annapurna Studios, who has been highly instrumental in transforming the traditional studio into a corporate environment; Mr. Sumanth, famous film actor known for his work and meaningful cinema; Mr. Akhil Akkineni, young star and heartthrob of many girls.

Mr. Bala Raj, the Dean of Annapurna International School of Film & Media and well-known Hollywood professional who has written, produced and directed award winning English films was also present on the occasion.

The films that were screened were of various topics; if one took you to the 1900’s then the other touched upon a topic that not many are comfortable talking about. If one was about a long cherished dream, the other was about a simple gesture, to smile!
The films screened were:
Parchaai, a drama, which features the journey of a school student who tries to redeem himself after an event that has occurred in his past.
Varnamaala, a story set in the early 1900’s where the zamindari system is at its peak. There is one head person for a village who has the authority over every person of that village. This is the time where lower caste people are considered to be untouchables and are banished out from villages. This is one story of how one man tries to change this in his own way.
Inside Job, a psychological thriller. It’s a play between the human soul and brain where the brain propels the soul to explore the untraversed territories of human senses. It tries to question you about your perception of reality and pushes you to think one more time about you, about yourself.
– One of the greatest feelings in life is to be able to smile and feel carefree, even if it is just for a moment. The documentary, Navvu, explores the importance of laughter through concepts like medical clowning in the highly stressful lives of those who’ve had to spend time at hospitals.
Sattvam, a film about Ratan, an ambulance driver. He is a very crude man, one who never believes in his duty of saving lives of people in emergency. When faced with a situation which makes him introspect the reasons behind the attitude he has developed, will he resist or accept to change?
Sort the Spot, the story of two girls and a regular day in their respective schools. But that’s not it. Something strange happens. A girl’s first period – a topic still considered taboo by many in the country; it’s time we talk about it in the open.
Khwaish, a film about Karim Khan, who is a small town guy from Kashti. Karim is a vendor of Nimbu Sarbat which he sells on his cart in the Village. Karim unlike other small town guys is very different and still hopes of achieving his dreams at any cost. Karim is very close to this small kid Arjun (12). Karim’s ambition, his goal, his only dream is to  go to Lord’s and watch India play cricket. Can Karim achieve his dream ever?
Rangula Ratnam, a story is about a Sale’s man and a Lawyer. How they meet each other and interchange their profession for one day. After that what are the challenges they face individually. In the end how they save the life of two people, who are related to the same conflict is the story. Does the story end on a positive note?

After the screening of the short films, the chief guests shared their thoughts on them. Speaking about the event, Lakshmi Manchu said, “Congratulations on such incredible work. I am inspired by all of you. It’s always inspiring to see new visions and it is very important to see new ideas come forth. A lot of hard work goes into cinema and here overnight success happens in 10 years.” Giving advice to the students she said, “Nothing is more beautiful than cinema, define yourself. What is the story that you have that is compelling to tell? Identify that and keep your passion, drive and love alive for cinema.”

Ramesh Prasad, speaking at the event reminisced about how his father, L. V. Prasad (one of the pioneers of Indian cinema and a producer, actor, director, cinematographer and businessman) started his journey in films and said that there were four things that his father followed and advised the students to do the same; “passion, patience, perseverance and purity of thought.” He further added, “You as youngsters should know about cinema. There is great power in the medium of cinema, the more you are involved, the more you churn. The challenge is the content. The future is on you, take it forward.”

Sumanth speaking at the event said, “You have a wonderful opportunity, let your imagination flow.” He also recollected an incident wherein he had gone to a top film house in Bombay recently and a person came running up to him and introduced himself as an alumni of AISFM, who incidentally was there, to sell his script to the film house.

Akhil Akkineni lauded the efforts of the students and appreciated them and their movies. He said, “My grandfather’s dream was to give back to cinema and he would have been proud to see your wonderful films.” He further added, “The harsh reality is don’t ever let yourself down if your vision is not translated onto the screen. Stay on your course. Passion for what you do is very important. If you don’t love it, don’t do it, you won’t last.”

Bala Raj, Dean, AISFM, speaking at the event, congratulated the students and said, “you have endured the making of a film and you now know what goes on into the making of a film and this premiere of your short films is a great accomplishment, so congrats to all of you.”

Later on, the students interacted with the guests and a brief question and answer session with the Chief Guests and faculty of AISFM was held. Cherishing these momentous moments forever, photographs were taken with the chief guests for keepsake!

Tips on making budget friendly short films

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You must have seen the Telugu short film Viva, or heard of it, at least. With over 5,737,379 hits and still counting, it is one of the most-popular short films in recent times. Made on a shoe-string budget with friends doubling up as actors, the film left everyone in splits.

And taking inspiration from this, a slew of short films have hit cyber space. You can’t miss them because they are on your Facebook wall, on your twitter feed and every social media page you log in to.

But what sets one short film apart from the other, is the way it is executed. While some are fun and demand repeat viewing, others are just unwatchable. So, if you have a DSLR and think you can make the next ‘big’ budget friendly short film, here are a few things you need to take into account.

1. Plan A, B or even C: This is the most important part for every film, no matter how small the budget. You need to plan it to perfection. Make sure you design your budget from start to finish – down to the smallest detail. If your budget is a 0 or close to it, the organizing just gets harder. You must strategize closely, and exactly how to execute your film without paying for it. And this can be time consuming.
Another important thing – always have a plan B, or sometimes even a plan C. What happens if your leading actor falls ill? What happens if the location is suddenly unavailable? Working on a low budget leaves no room for delays. Every day you are held up may have a crucial impact on your budget blueprint, or lack of it.

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2. Get your story right: The basis of every good film – feature length or short – is the story. Once you have locked down the script and are confident about the material, only then go ahead with the shoot. You must keep all budget constraints and the timeframe in mind while writing your story. Remember, you have to tell a riveting story in a limited period of time, and you don’t want to be a meandering bore.

3. Location lock: Once your script is in place, select your location. It could be your friend’s new bachelor pad or your uncle may be an office manager and can give you access to the office for some time. Utilise these ‘free’ locations to your advantage. Also keep this in mind while writing. Try not to move around too much. Moving your crew from one location to another can incur a lot of costs. So a single location is the best option. Write a script that requires no transportation. If you need examples, think Paranormal Activity, Reservoir Dogs, Night of the Living Dead
One of the best options to shoot would be indoors or somewhere there is less ambient sound. Listen for traffic noise, air conditioning, nature sounds, or anything else that might be problematic in editing. By addressing these issues in the planning stage, you will prevent headaches during post-production.

4. Find your actors: When you make a zero or low budget film, you obviously have no money to pay actors or crew. So it is crucial to find volunteers to work for free. Start looking at film and theater departments, or acting studios. There is nothing like eager students or aspiring actors, to get your film started.

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5. Know your lighting: The best time to shoot your film is between 6.30 am to 9.30 am and 3.30 pm to sunset. Afternoons are the worst. The frame will be burned and since you are shooting on limited or zero budget, there isn’t much you can do with it. So plan well and finish your shoot within this time.

6. Compose your shots: Another important thing you need to take care of is composing the frames. You have to constantly keep in mind that the budget will not permit you to hire track and trolley and other equipment. So use compositions to your advantage.
Another thing you have to remember is that the tripod is your best friend. With just a trolley slide, panning and lifting becomes really easy. Holding the camera all the time is not a smart thing to do. Your hands might tremble and the scene would end up looking blurred. So, to get a professionally shot look, use a tripod.

7. Handmade equipment: There are certain accessories, like reflectors, that you can make or wing for free instead of hiring. Thermocol sheets are very helpful. Another reflector you can make is silver paper from a stationary store stuck on cardboard.

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8. Music is must: Most short filmmakers don’t usually pay attention to music after shooting their film. But it’s an integral part of the film. There are many websites that provide free music and you can download what suits the film, for free. Websites like Free Music Archive, Noisetrade, Jamendo, Soundowl and even Amazon are great sources for free music.

9. Sound, sound, sound: While you might have shot some amazing footage, garbled dialogue and wind sound can obscure audio and ruin the film. Poorly recorded and mixed audio will make a great picture seem amateurish and poorly-executed. Most DSLR cameras today have decent sound recorders. However, you can get much better results if you use external microphone and plug it into the auxiliary jack of the camera to record voice and dialogue. You can also convert your iPhone or iPad into a field recorder, by using apps like Hindenburg Field Recorder and RØDE Rec. These field recorders help control microphone placement and volume.
Other accessories you need to be aware of include headphones, XLR cables, and windscreens for your microphone. Assess your needs in pre-production and see what you can afford to buy or rent. You can get away with certain cheaper alternatives like using your phone ear buds in place of studio headphones, for instance. Hands free mic from your phone is also a great option. All you have to do is clip it inside the lapel of your shirt.

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10. Market it well: Now that your film is done, it is time to market it. And this aspect is extremely important. The Internet offers endless opportunities for free or very cheap marketing. The most obvious free marketing tool is Youtube. You can post a trailer of your movie, and share the link on your social networking page like Facebook, Twitter or a friend’s blog. Ask your friends and family to help with social media promotion as well.
Another way to market your film is by taking it to the various film festivals across the country. The advantage is, you might get is a slot to showcase your film with other renowned filmmakers. It’s also a great place for you to interact with industry folk; this helps you build contacts. Some film festivals you can think of are the Bangalore International Film Festival, the Jammu & Kashmir International Film festival and the Jaipur International Film Festival among others.

Listen to what ace director Anurag Kashyap has to say about writing for No Budget films

 

Aayush Agarwal Turns It On!

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A few days ago, AISFM student Aayush Agarwal released a video on his YouTube channel. And now, the video has gone viral! This Short film, titled “Turn It Off” tells people how necessary it is to conserve electricity, in a naughty and saucy way. Directed, written, produced, edited by Aayush, this 2:30 minute video got almost 1000 views in less than 36 hours, which is why one mustn’t miss watching it.

“I got the idea while browsing the Internet. I liked the idea of doing a video on conserving electricity,” says Aayush. Since there are already videos made on the same lines using a similar premise, Aayush came up with something different to make it stand out. “The fact that the video is short and crisp, along with the fact that it surprises you at the end, is what makes my short film different from the others,” he says.

The response the video has gotten so far has made the youngster extremely happy. “This video has the most number of hits on my channel. We worked really hard on this film. And it took us two days to complete the whole thing and that’s what makes it so special,” he says.

Here’s the video. Have a look!

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