With the industry of film making in India opening up to more and more independent directors who think outside the box, film schools have become coveted of late. And with studying abroad adding a good cultural mix to one’s repertoire, foreign schools have come knocking on our doors as well.
In an effort to build on India-UK collaborations, the GREAT Britain Roadshow was conducted recently by the British Deputy High Commission, and the London Film School (LFS) was a part of the bouquet of opportunities presented. With at least a tenth of their annual film releases being Indian, the effort only seems natural.
Pointing out the importance of collaborating with other countries not just through virtual platforms, Kate Hughes, head of marketing, LFS, says, “I think the phenomena of learning from other markets is really fantastic. One can interact virtually to a certain extent but it is a smart move to bring people together for face-to-face communication.”
India and UK, as it turns out, already share a connect with quite a few Indian film makers having enrolled in their school. Writer-director and co-producer of Land Gold Women, Avantika Hari (who won the National Film Award for best feature film), writer-director of Malayalam movie Manjadikuru, Anjali Menon and Anu Menon, director of the Bollywood movie London, Paris, New York are all alumni of LFS.
“We aim to chart out plans for exploring the collaboration on the lines of co-production, sharing of technology, unexplored locations, and most importantly we are interested in the amazing story ideas from Bollywood,” further explains Kate.
So why London Film School one might ask, and Kate promptly replies that formal training is important for those looking at traversing lesser explored terrain. With over 25 years spanning corporate affairs, international sales and distribution of films, the lady speaks from experience.
The two-year filmmaking course offered by LFS, one of the oldest film schools of UK, appears promising as students are encouraged to test the waters and ‘learn from their own failures.’
Students make a minimum of six films and with each passing semester, the difficulty level is increased to make it more challenging. The graduation film can be of any budget, any length and shot anywhere in the world.
“We are not interested in teaching students to make a bunch of commercial romantic flicks; we encourage them to think outside the box and make movies about culture, societies and so on,” says Kate.
Also, while graduating, one is usually focused only on the creative part of the movie making and a student seldom thinks about the other variables of filmmaking. However, when they leave the school, they need some extra skills like pitching a project to financiers or producers.
“These too are taught at LFS in the form of various courses,” says Kate, adding that the focus at LFS is to make students industry-ready.
Although, about 70 per cent of the students walk in wanting to be writer-directors, they don’t just learn to write or direct, they learn all the crafts required for filmmaking. It is the multidisciplinary way of teaching that gives students at the school the extra edge.
“I love films but I know am not a maker. So, I get great satisfaction in making sure that creative work gets an audience,” she says.
However, knowing the skills and graduating from a top-notch school doesn’t set one up for success. The key for such a career which deals with a lot of post-production as well is perseverance, informs Kate, as each film differs from the other, making it tricky to identify financiers, the right crew and the market.
Filmmaking is not just about writing and directing, there are avenues which can be taken up only when one knows their calling.
“And most importantly, you need to really believe in what you are doing,” the marketing head stresses.