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?

Role of a Screenwriter in Film Making

To take either a pre-written story, or even a native story idea, and translate it into an effective screenplay is the primary role of a Screenwriter in the Film industry. Having said that, there is much more to this process than meets the eye. It is not as straightforward as writing a normal story, for the simple reason that the communication is audio-visual, and not literary.

There are some very important aspects that need to be carefully observed. Some of these aspects may be generic to good story-writing such as character development, believable characters, story and engaging plot points, regardless of the story-telling medium.

But besides these elements, there are aspects specific to Film medium that need to be kept in mind. Things such as minimal dialogues, visually communicating a certain emotion, a sound sense of the visual medium itself, are vital elements in the screenwriter’s repertoire.

And therefore, a Screenwriter’s role in the overall Film-making process is absolutely vital. Because it is in the screenplay that the Film is first born. And once the screenplay is ready, it is the single most important document that forms the basis on which everyone else (the Director, Actors etc.) builds the Film.

This extremely sensitive and complex function can only be executed by someone who is creative, has a complete understanding of the Film-making process and whose sense of aesthetic is firmly placed in the visual medium. It is a discipline that can be self-taught. But it could take years before one learns the skill set effectively and gets a real opportunity to write a screenplay that is Produced and made into a Film. In essence, how to plant a story from the germ of an idea, or a piece of news, to capture the audience in a total way is a skill that can be learnt from mentors, and practice sessions.

The best solution to all aspiring Film writers is to train themselves thoroughly in the best manner possible. India too has a world-class Film school where creative young minds, who have a burning desire to make it in Films, can learn & receive a superb education. Digital Academy – The Film School is the ideal place to take a Screenwriter’s program and hone one’s writing skills. Not only will there be an opportunity to learn all the nuances of effective Film-writing from leading industry writers, but also a chance of subsequently working in the industry and making Films on the stories you write.

Script is the first part of your Films’ success and by enrolling for a program at DA and see where the world of writing can really take you.

Return of the Studio System in Indian Cinemas?

Indian cinema started as an individual’s passion and slowly turned into a segment of family entrepreneurship. People like Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatwadekar, who took up the helms of Indian Documentary Production in the 1890s, Hiralal Sen in Calcutta and Dadasaheb Phalke in Kolhapur, who experimented a lot in theatre recording and mythico-social fiction Films, were Film makers who used their family, friends and servants as crew and Actors. In a way, the initial years of Indian Film making was modeled on the Hindu joint family structure and not as a capital venture.

As the idea of the talkie slowly crept in, during the 1930s, a need for conglomeration was felt. The model of America was available as reference – the capitalist model of assembly system for manufacture. At that time, India was going through an unpredictable economic change. On one hand, the rural self-sufficient economy had broken down and on the other hand, Gandhi’s call for self-promotion in the form of indigenous industries and products had led to the emergence of a pro-active and intelligent business class striving for a free India.

(Image Courtesy: http://www.wikipedia.org)

Film industry, at the hands of Phalke and his followers, was at best a flourishing cottage industry without the promise of a continuous return. Film makers such as Ardeshir Irani and Chunilal Munim tried to get a bank loan for their projects. But as a completely unorganized industry, Cinema posed a big risk for prospective investors. Also, the whole idea of Film making, especially by Indians, was unacceptable to the conservative British. As an upstart art-form, Cinema wasn’t held in high-esteem by the elite British. With Gujarati and Parsee banias as financiers of the Films, and technicians as well as Actors coming from the lower classes, cinema was ill-reputed from the start.

With the advent of sound, similar problems were addressed in the United States. Five major and the three minor studios started controlling production, distribution and exhibition of their movies. At no point was the control of the Film out of their hands. Any uncertainty of selling the Film and showing it to a full-scale audience could be ruled out. Screenwriters, Directors, Cinematographers, Editors, Music Composers and especially the actors became members of the studio’s paid staff.

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A similar need to connect the Film industry to modern capital was strongly felt in Bombay and Calcutta. Studio system, as a fool-proof company structure stepped in to remedy the bank’s lack of support and the problem of under-capitalization in the industry. In a way, that gave a certain legitimacy to the not-so-elite essence of Cinema in India.

As a result , state-of-the-art equipments could be purchased and used. Also, technical experiments and innovations as well as experiments in ideas were encouraged. Playback system started in a studio in Calcutta called New Theatres, much before it started in Hollywood. Different colour processes, like Technicolor and Metrocolor, were tried out. New innovations from Hollywood were incorporated in Indian studios. And then the first stars appeared.

The first trio of stars from Indian cinema, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, were products of the studio system to start with. However, as their careers progressed and a major chunk of the audience started equating the stars with their Films, studio system led to an era of stars. This was due to the intake of large venture capital in the form of black money. Quite a few newcomers entered the industry as financiers/Producers. But they were interested in making a portion of their money legal and not in a sustainable growth of the industry through a disciplined, charted out process as taken by studio owners.

Under pressure, major studios like New Theatres, Vassan Studios (later Gemini Pictures), Bombay Talkies, Prabhat, Ranjit Movietones and a bunch of others either closed down or changed their operation from movie production to another niche.

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It was at this time when the Indian government stepped in to support Film Production, distribution and exhibition through organizations like Films Division, NFDC, PSBT and other similar bodies in the 1950s. However, there used to be a pro-State propagandist stance in the Films produced and exhibited by the government. Cinema being the biggest machinery for hegemony in the post-independence years, only certain expressions of mind were allowed.

Mainstream cinema of 60s and 70s, specially the Angry Young Man Films, were silently supported by the government program of integration and subordination. In the 80s, the theme of corruption, anger, inequality, underworld and romance continued. Indian cinema was not genre based then. Terms such as masala movies were coined keeping this phenomenon in mind.

Indian cinema became too parochial in this period. Bollywood became the other name of Indian Cinema, flanked by the alternate, art-house Indian new wave Films, most of which weren’t properly distributed or exhibited outside Film festivals and failed to pull a crowd. There was almost no variation in the mainstream themes. Even though both non-mainstream and parallel cinemas had really interesting stories to offer, their presentation was mostly off-the-mark and boring for the uninitiated audience.

In the post-2000 scenario, with easy access to movies with better sound and picture quality which could be watched at home, old theatres started dying. But interesting changes were occurring in the Indian retail marketplace. Shopping malls began sprouting up in every major city in India. They offered a panoply of choices under a single roof and a cozy tour across designed spaces in the weekend. These malls became meeting joints and the hub for all activities for the youth. They were the new public squares where all kinds of enjoyment and socialization was possible.

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As the way to incorporate foreign venture capitals in Indian industries, American and European companies started coming to India for collaborations in the entertainment business. Companies like Reliance, Mahindra and Mahindra and UTV started operating in a structured way, reminiscent of studios in the 30s. As Bollywood became a burgeoning brand, owing to the large expat groups in the Western world, many production-distribution companies like Pathé, Channel 4, Warner Bros, Disney and Fortissimo Films started showing interest in collaborating with Indian entertainment companies. It was unimaginable, even in 2000, that every week a host of Bollywood Films could be commercially shown in theatres across Germany, Netherlands, France, America and UK.

So how do these corporates differ from the previous single Producer system in approach? The answer is simple – neatness of activities and a proper business orientation with domain knowledge. During the star system, Films were produced by short-sighted businessmen who wanted a quick profit in exchange for their unaccounted money. Staleness of thought and repetition of themes crept in easily. New corporate Film houses changed this habit. Habits of financial transparencies changed. But more noticeable was the changes in stories and the way the movies were shot. It was impossible to imagine something like Ishqiya, Band Baaja Baaraat or Delhi Belly a few years back.

As new players took over during the period of globalization, models for sustainable growth were chalked out. The new corporate structures are based on modern American Film studios. In a way, this is the second coming of the old studio system with the difference that, barring a few exceptions, the companies aren’t family bound. The studio system in India was like a feudal structure while the new corporate model is capitalistic. With fresh talent from Film schools joining these companies the current picture looks more pro-youth.

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However, like anything that’s new, the corporate structure has some problems too. Some companies are under the impression that entertainment can be run just like any other business and they tend to undermine creativity. Creativity can be controlled but can never be methodical. That would be similar to controlling the human psyche in a flowcharted manner. Mystery and beauty lies in this randomness. The old studios understood this and gave birth to some of the most beautiful works from Indian Cinema. The star system of the 50s made fixed patterns stronger with the help of stars. People used to come to the theatre to get entertained, even though they already knew the story. That was pleasure for an audience that had a limited choice for entertainment.

However, the Indian audience of the new millennium is smarter. They are consumers with a variety of choices. With the advent of so many TV channels, websites and social networking sites, it is very difficult to keep the audience glued to the big screen. So an organized market research, market segmentation, vertical and horizontal combinations in the market are mandatory to survive today. With companies like Big Pictures creating theatre chains across India and in US, the return of the studio system in the new guise of the corporate has arrived. It is for the new generation of Film lovers, like us, to see if it sustains. 

Careers in Production Design

In this corporate era the scope for production design is truly enormous. Though it is always advisable to spend a certain period as an associate with an expert professional to gain practical experiences before joining the industry as a whole-timer, still it takes comparatively lesser time to gain a foothold in this profession.


Beside the usual domain of feature films, TV serials, ad films and music videos, nowadays the events like talk shows, game shows or reality shows in TV industry have consequently opened up newer horizons to explore for the production designers. Probably the time is not very far when the TV channels will start vying with each other for a better production designer to obtain the cutting edge regarding the look in their programs.

It has became already a reality readily accepted in the corporate world that events like product launching, award show or theme parties cannot take place without proper involvements from the production designers. These days, because of their visual acumen, even in the diverse fields like constructing theme parks, put up pavilions or creating theme-based décor in hotel interiors, production designers are a much sought after lot.

Career as a Producer

One does not need to possess a lot of money in order to become a Producer. A producer arranges for the money just as s/he arranges for all the other resources that go into a film. With the growth of corporate film production, opportunities abound for skilled Producers to work as representatives and executives of the larger corporation.

Starting as production assistants, aspiring producers make their way up the corporate hierarchy as line producers, project managers, production heads and finally as producer.

Students from Digital Academy may be able to directly join as line producers or executive producers simply because of the theoretical and practical knowledge they have gained during the course.

An added benefit of this course is that it is like a semi-management course and enables students to branch out in areas like event management, advertisment production or any other area of management.

In short having obtained an insiders view of this course, a student is ready to take on the mantle of a Producer, Executive Producer or Line Producer on any TV channel or production house. 

Careers in Sound Recording & Engineering Course

India is known to be the biggest producer of motion pictures in the world. The biggest USP of Indian Films that sets it apart from World Cinema is the inclusion of song and dance sequences in them. Despite a weak content, several Films have done stupendous business, solely on the strength of its music. Music sales are a major avenue of income for Film Producers and the sale of Audio rights is a major revenue earner. The Audio companies also actively participate in the promotional and marketing strategies of these films.

According to his aptitude or liking, a person can mould or fit himself in various branches of Sound Recording and Engineering:-

1. Sound Engineer for live shoot during Filming of a Movie or a Television programme.
2. Song and Music Recording.
3. Mixing Engineer for Dolby DTS Surround sound.
4. Handling Sound System in live outdoor events.
5. Sound Designing for Film effects.
6. Recordist at a Radio Station, especially FM Stations or to produce software for broadcasting, eg. Ad-commercials, Corporate Documentary films etc.
7. Maintenance or Service Engineer for equipment.
8. Designing and establishing sound Recording Studios with proper aesthetics, acoustics and ambience.

Sound Engineering is not a profession that can be taught in a conventional academic way. It is a collaborative art form and to do it well requires a combination of technical skill and theoretical knowledge, as well as practical and aesthetic abilities.

Careers in Film and Television Editing

India makes the maximum number of films in the world. In addition to this, there are some 30 prominent channels, along with many regional networks. The Indian Media & Entertainment Industry is inviting great investment and has tremendous growth potential. Today, the number of aspirants who wish to make a career in films and the television sector, especially in the field of editing, is at an all time high. The scope of editing is ever widening in this era of technological explosion because every piece of audio visual media, requires an Editor.

Editing is a crucial job, which goes far beyond matching visuals and sound in accordance with the script. A good Editor can make the critical difference to a program’s final quality.

An Editor is therefore both an artist and a technician. As a technician, s/he needs to be abreast of the state of the art technology, which keeps moving towards higher levels of sophistication. At Digital Academy-The Film School, we not only ensure a hands-on experience with state of the art software, but also prepare students for the possible changes of technology in the future for e.g. the shift of Standard Definition Television (SDTV), to High Definition Television (HDTV) or the change of celluloid based technologies to Digital projection technology, be it 2K, 4K or higher.

 

What we aim for is to impart an education that grounds the student’s minds in the unchanging principles that govern narrative communication, while also preparing them for the ever changing flux of technology.

With greater responsibility comes greater visibility and better money. Today’s Editor’s can expect to earn top of the line remuneration especially in the high end spectrum.


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