Role of an Editor in Film Making

There are many roles in the Film making process that require a person to be a sound technician and an equally accomplished artist. The Editor of a Film is a critical role that also draws in equal measure on creative talent and technique.

At the most basic level, the role of a Film Editor is to put together the scenes of a Film in a manner where they are entertaining, engaging and tell the story as it was intended to be told. Let us exemplify this point. If it is a romantic comedy, then it is the Editor’s job to place visual and time emphasis on crucial moments in the Film. Likewise, in a thrilling crime drama, it is an Editor’s skill to build and sustain the suspense of the Film. This can be done by pacing the edit in a certain manner, cutting shots and scenes intelligently to reveal just enough to tease the audience.

Therefore, not only must the Editor possess an extremely keen sense of story-telling, he must also be armed with the technical tools to accomplish these goals. Hence, the artistry and technical wizardry combination.

Editing, in more than one way, is direction in post. An Editor is the first critic of the film. But unlike the passive viewer, or the regular critic, s/he takes an active part in presenting the story in its most effective, streamlined packaging.It is an extremely rewarding but arduous job that needs careful studying. And perhaps the best way to receive this comprehensive training is by attending a great school.

Digital Academy – The Film School, has finally arrived in India to impart a world class education in Film making. The Editing program at DA will instruct you not just about the theory of editing, but also in all the aspects relating to story-telling and the nuances of a keen story sense, and then back that up with hands on training on industry standard equipment.

A program at DA will be like editing out the years of struggle and self-teaching that will be replaced by a robust and complete education, and the confidence to take on the world of Films.

Nagesh Kukunoor Masterclass

Digital Academy – The Film School recently organized an interactive Masterclass Session with one of India’s most talented Filmmaker NageshKukunoor.

Nagesh Kukunoor shot to fame with his first full length feature Film called Hyderabad Blues in 1998 which went on to become one of the most successful Independent Films in India. He backed it up with Rockford in 1999, and proved it to everyone that his first Film was not just a flash-in-a-pan.

Before turning Filmmaker, Nagesh was an Engineer in USA. He was born in a middle class family in Hyderabad and after completing his Bachelor’s Degree he moved to the US in 1988 to pursue his Masters in Chemical Engineering. He started living the American Dream, but somewhere down the line, he was never satisfied. Finally in 1998, he returned to Hyderabad to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a Film maker. And rest, as they say, is history.

Nagesh shared some interesting anecdotes about his journey to becoming one of the most successful Independent Filmmakers the country has ever seen. Despite studying Acting and Direction at the Warehouse Actor’s Theater in Atlanta, USA; Nagesh didn’t have much practical experience of Filmmaking. In fact, he attributes this naiveté because of which he left a well settled life and came back to India to do what he always wanted to do, i.e. to make movies.

Upon returning to India, Nagesh got a job as a translator for a Television serial known as ‘Veer Hanuman’.  He has depicted this ‘first day at the job’ in the movie ‘Bollywood Calling’ where the dedicated Actor reaches the shoot at 9am, while everyone else turns up few hours later. His horrendous experience at the unprofessionalism prevalent in the industry left him devastated. The very next day he left the job, locked himself in a room and wrote the first draft of Hyderabad Blues over the next 6 days.

“Do not go upto any Filmmaker and just criticize. If you like it, please make it a point to tell it to the Filmmaker. Earlier, you had to make your way and earn the title of being called a Critic.  These days everyone is a Film Critic,” opined Nagesh. Nagesh does not believe that negative criticism is a healthy thing. “If you come up to me and tell me, I didn’t like your story, what do you expect me to say? Good or bad, a story is a story. At the most, I’ll say, I’m sorry you didn’t like it. I don’t gain anything with your negative criticism,” added Nagesh.

Nagesh also shared his experience of working with Naseeruddin Shah for ‘Teen Deewarein’ where the veteran Actor was persistent with a certain gesture and stuck to it despite Nagesh’s insistence of not doing it. The end result stunned even Nagesh, as to how brilliant the shot looked in the movie. This is a valuable lesson for new Directors, where, an experienced Actor can truly surpass expectations with slight additional nuances.

According to Nagesh, Scriptwriters are making a comeback after falling from their peak of popularity, when people would choose to watch a Film simply based on the Scriptwriters’ name. Nagesh is as much known for his Scripts as he is for his Filmmaking talents. He wrote the first draft of Iqbal in 8 days, which was originally written with the theme of Mallakhamb (Malkhamb is a traditional Indian sport in which a gymnast performs feats and poses in concert with a vertical wooden pole or rope)  instead of Cricket.  The first draft his movie Dor was written in 9 days while the Ye Honsla which didn’t release, was written in 5 days.

Speaking about Scriptwriting, Nagesh says, “Some stories just write themselves. I give myself 30days when I start writing a story. If in those 30 days I can’t finish it, I leave it and come back to it months or maybe years later. I’m talking about the first draft. By the time I finish it, I probably write 7-8 drafts.”

Speaking of Iqbal, he first set out make a short story based on Mallakhamb, but the story became too long to be called a short Film. When he pitched it to Producers, most didn’t really knew what Mallakhamb was. So he had to later change it from Mallakhamb to Cricket, as a result of which the Producers started lining up to sign him.

Nagesh strongly believes in injecting new blood in the industry and signing new Actors like Shreyas for Iqbal. At the same time, some movies do require the presence of a star Actor to justify the story. For the same reason, he chose to have John Abraham for Aashayein.

Nagesh Kukunoor is truly an icon for young Filmmakers who aspire to make commercial as well crictically acclaimed movies. His brilliance lies in his ability to stick to his roots and not lose his focus in making movies that tell epic stories, at the same time, maintaining a balance in making it commercially viable.

Digital Academy – The Film School is indebted to Nagesh for gracing its campus with his presence and sharing his inspiring story with our students.

Role of the Director of Photography in Film Making

The Director of Photography, also known as the Cinematographer, is a vital creative force in the Film making process. He or she is that one person who is responsible for translating the Director’s cinematic vision onto the screen. Not only does a Cinematographer need to be adept at creating engaging visual moods, but must also be able to both envision them and execute them.

And it is here that the role of a good Director of Photography becomes most challenging. Because in order to envision a visual scenario, he or she needs to be extremely creative, which is a right-brain function. But because that envisioned mood will be realized using mechanical tools, such as light and camera, he must also possess a scientific bent of mind in order to achieve the right mood. This then makes it a left-brain function.

The two combined make it a very complex job that can only be effectively executed with deep knowledge and creativity. Because in the role of a Director of Photography, the individual is both an artist and a technician, and must be the best of both these divergent worlds. So how does one prepare for this highly complex role? How does one develop the required skills needed to be a compelling Cinematographer? There are creative and technical worlds to conquer and master, and the required preparation is immense.

At the time of shoot, or even in pre-production visualization stages, a Director may lack visual thinking. It is the Director of Photography who translates the Director’s literal thoughts to screen. The whole Cinematography team gets engaged in that job, under the guiding force of their Captain – the Director of Photography. The question is how to train oneself to that profile?

Digital Academy – The Film School is the answer. The DA Cinematography program will give you the most comprehensive and in depth grounding, by using world-class equipment and instructions from the most sought after artists & technicians in the business. While you will learn the theory of Cinema, you will also physically handle and shoot on a wide array of cameras & lenses. While you participate in workshops by leading Cinematographers from Bollywood, you will also build contacts and create your network to eventually work in the industry.

Armed with the training from DA, you will truly broaden your horizons as an individual artist and as a young DoP hungry to work in the Film industry!

Role of a Producer in Film Making

The Producer is an indispensable part during the making of a Film. Sure there are many types of Producers – Executive, Line, Supervising, Creative; but whatever their specific charge, an appropriate word to encapsulate a Producer’s primary role can be ‘Enabler’. The Producer is the one person, on or off the set, with the network, contacts and wherewithal to get people & other resources organized. When a Film is being made, many things are needed. To begin with, it is the Producer who brings together the core team for the project, like the Screenwriter, Actors, Director and so on. He is someone who gives the idea of the Film a tangible shape.

Once the initial team is set up and pre-production begins, the Producer continues to serve as the primary enabler – assisting and tapping into his vast pool of contacts to get anything, like locations, shooting venues, Actor’s dates etc. And once the shooting begins, he takes on the additional responsibility of an ‘overseeing executive’, someone who ensures that the Film and all its elements are in place and are moving forward as per the assigned schedule & budget. In that sense, the Producer is the binding force that guides the idea of the film to come to fruition.

Depending of course on the type of Producer, it is likely that a large sum of money, personal or representative, is invested by the Producer in the Film. This then makes the Producer’s duties even more broad-based, as he has to ensure that even after the Film has been shot & edited, it’s marketed & distributed properly for it to generate maximum profits. After all, Film-making is a business too.

To truly understand & learn the craft of effective Producing, it is best to have hands-on training & experience. Since the Producer is involved in every aspect of the Film-making process, he or she must be intimately familiar with each facet as well. For instance, though he may not be shooting the Film himself, a Producer who does not know the basics of Cinematography will not prove to be an effective Producer. Only a Producer with a total knowledge in all sections of filmmaking can arrange for, and oversee, a proper utilization of correct resources. For example, if a big budget commercial movie is being shot on the state-of-the-art Arri Alexa camera, it is the producer’s responsiblity, as much as the DOP’s, to arrange a 4K recorder with full colour reproduction. Otherwise, the film images would lack the finesse of a true blockbuster, and that can hamper the sell as the audience would not feel too involved.

So you must be wondering which is the best way to fast track this learning process? It is by taking a world class Producers’ program at an institution like Digital Academy – The Film School. Here, aspiring Producers learn each nuance of the Film-making process, interact with well known Producers and even have an opportunity to work under them after the program.

To be an enabler in Films, you need to first enable yourself to get an excellent education, right?

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