Film Making as a Career


The word 'filmmaker' may instantly bring to one's mind a Speiberg-like figure dictating hundreds of people with a loudspeaker, expensive movie launch parties, interviews with the press, walking the red carpet and winning prestigious awards. However if you really want to weave your dream work on the movie screen you need to be taken behind the lens of the messiah-like image of a director to the real world of filmmaking that involves plenty of hard work, creativity and challenges. To start off with, what is film making? According to Vinay Subramanian, director of the film Missed Call, 'The method of telling a story, or putting across an idea on a canvas that supports audio as well as visual matter could be termed as film making.'

When asked if a filmmaking course is mandatory to be a filmmaker, Oscar nominated director Ashvin Kumar, answers, 'Not necessarily. One may learn by making one's own film and learning through mistakes. It's best to start off by making short films. One can start off by being an assistant director or one can make one's own film and send it to film festivals.' Director Nagesh Kukunoor says, 'While hiring assistant directors I look for enthusiasm as my shoots are fairly rigorous. I shoot my films very fast and aggressively therefore I want someone who is committed and has the passion. If you can work as an assistant director for someone it is a very cheap way to learn, as you don't have to join an expensive filmmaking course instead. You'll get to be on a film set, observe and learn. Besides a lot of direction is intuitive.'

Formal training in filmmaking however may make it easier to understand the technical aspects of filmmaking and converting them into action. A course imparts the theories and practical knowledge of the hardware and software needed to make a film. An aspirant filmmaker is taught all aspects of filmmaking be it camera handling, recording systems, editing, productions to the post-production phases of moviemaking. To join a two-year filmmaking course in a reputed institute of India one needs to be a graduate. The eligibility test for filmmaking courses cover areas like general knowledge on films (Indian / International) and aptitude tested on parameters like assessing visuals and audios. A course trains the candidate in film direction, cinematography, editing and audiography. Adinath Das, Dean of the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute says, 'On completion of a course one may take up a salaried job with a production house or work as a freelancer.'

When asked what attributes a good director should have, Ashvin Kumar, answers, 'Good people skills (how to deal with people), he should be able to lead a large number of people and tell a good story in visuals. A director is in-charge of the background, foreground, script, story, music and editing.' When asked what meticulous filmmaking entails Vinay Subramanian answers, 'Though one definitely learns a lot by just observing and watching films the presence on an actual shooting floor is essential to know how different units work in tandem captained by an able director. Also films are not all about shooting. Shooting is just a logistical execution of what's already achieved on paper. Careful planning is essential on the script front because if you don't have a thorough script the confusion may carry on to the shooting floor and eventually the final film is short of mark.'

Gearing funds for your film is a major hurdle especially for an independent filmmaker. It is essential to make a detailed budget indicating the financial requirement and to make arrangement of the finances as per the requirement without which the film cannot be completed. The director is the captain of the ship who is responsible for the entire film wisely using all the resources provided to him by the producer to make the film. Vinay advises, 'The professional way of contacting a producer would be when you have a ready bound script and a detailed time bound plan to go about it. It's important to find the right kind of producer who would back you whole-heartedly for the subject that you wish to make a film upon. If you want to float your own company you can do so by coining a name, investing a certain amount as seed capital and registering the company with the registrar of companies.'

Filmmaking also takes place outside the Bollywood studio system, commonly known as independent filmmaking. In fact since the introduction of DV technology, the means of film production has been more democratized. Filmmakers can now conceivably independently shoot and edit a movie, create and edit the sound and music, and mix the final cut to a home computer. Das says, 'The benefit of independent filmmaking is that it doesn't have to cater to the standardized formats of filmmaking- be it Hollywood or Bollywood. Instead of that you can pursue your own themes and thoughts, you can address the situation, present an issue, even old hackneyed issues can be presented in a totally new perspective and in the process give a new dimension to your film.'

Though the means of production of filmmaking can still be democratized- financing, distribution and marketing still remain difficult to accomplish outside the conventional system. Most independent filmmakers mainly rely of film festivals to get their films noticed and sold for distribution. On sending films to festivals, Vinay advises, 'The procedures for most film festivals are similar. Once the film is ready you send them a copy of your final film for selection. The format required could be different: 16mm, 35mm, beta, dv, pal ,ntsc which are clearly spelt on their web sites or brochures.' On releasing films in multiplexes and single screen theatres, Vinay says, 'The commonly used route is to find a distributor who would distribute the film to different theaters across the country for a flat fee or commission. Or one could take the liabilities on one's head and go all the way. This could be an expensive process as the cost of prints, publicity, theatrical rentals and circulation of prints all need to be borne by the producer.' 
It's difficult to have any yardstick measurement for the 'success' of a filmmaker. We are almost always seeing cheesy commercial movies making it big at the box-office and good art films often having a niche audience. Adinath Das is however optimistic, 'Film appreciation amongst viewers is however heading towards a favourable change. There are more takers for a serious film. The future of filmmaking as a career is bright, filmmaking is in fact being opted as a curriculum course in universities now.'


  • Film &Television Institute of India (FTII): Law College Road, Pune - 411 004 (Maharashtra) Ph: (020)25431817 / 25433016 / 25430017 E-mail:ftii@vsnl.com

  • Jamia Milla Islamia: A.J. Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Maulana Mohammed Ali, Jauhar Marg Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, 110025 Ph: (011) 26987285

  • Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute: E.M.Bypass Road, P.O. Panchasayar, Kolkata 700094, Phone: (033)24328355

  • Asian Academy of Film & TV: MARWAH STUDIOS COMPLEX FC-14/15, Film City, Sector-16A NOIDA-201301, Uttar Pradesh, Ph.: 95120-2515254, 2515255, 2515256. Fax. : 95120-2515246, (Dial Code 95120 from Delhi or Code 0120 from other parts of the country and abroad), Mob: 9810323449 & 9818354646

  • Xavier Institute of Communication, St Xavier's College: Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai 4000001, Ph: (022)2621639, 2620930

  • Film and Television Institute of Tamil Nadu, CIT Campus, Taramani, Chennai 600113, Ph: (044)2352212

  • Tisch School of the Arts: Dean, Tisch School of the Arts, Mary Schmidt Campbell, PhD, 721 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10003, Phone: Phone: 001 212 998 1800

  • Rochester University: Rochester, NY 14627, Ph: 001585 275-2121

  • The London 'Film School: 24 Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9UB, United Kingdom, Telephone: +44(0)20 7836 9642, Fax:+44(0)20 7497 3718, General Email: info@lfs.org.uk

  • UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television: 102 East Melnitz Hall, Box951622, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1622, Phone: 001-310-825-5761, FAX: 310-825-3383 Admissions Information, info@tft.ucla.edu 310-825-8787

  • York University, Department of Film: 224 Centre for Film and Theatre, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3J 1P3, Tel: 416.736.5149, Fax: 416.736.5710, E-mail: film@yorku.ca  


More by :  Pallavi Bhattacharya

Top | Opinion

Views: 3319      Comments: 4

Comment please suggest me a good college for film making in australia ?

24-Oct-2014 13:18 PM

Comment I am an aspiring film-maker and planning to join a film school. I am confused between 2 schools i.e. Whistling woods international and AAFT. Which one of these do u think is better in terms of learning and placements? Is it worth enough to join WWI, considering its huge fee amount or should i join AAFT instead.

04-Oct-2013 13:34 PM

Comment Good Book for making a career in film industry - "Making a Career in the Film Industry" by Pooja Gautam

ankit gala
23-Apr-2012 09:41 AM

Comment thank u for qualitive guindance.br

06-Jul-2011 19:10 PM

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