“Film school is not for everyone”
In 1964 my father, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, went to the US as part of a cultural exchange programme and came away impressed with the formal approach to film education in many leading universities even back then. He nurtured a dream to establish an institute that will impart world class education in cinema in India. It materilised in 2011, when Annapurna International School of Film and Media ( AISFM) opened. The vision for AISFM was two- fold: the institute should operate on a non- profit basis, and it should offer full- time, governmentaccredited Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Despite there being several film schools, the industry is still facing a significant talent crunch. The National Skill Developmen Corporation ( NSDC) estimated that the Indian media industry will need another 20 lakh trained professionals in the next decade in order to grow at projected rates. We believe that longer, university- standard courses will help meet the needs of the industry in the future. So, a common question that is asked is “Do I need to go to film school or can I jump into the industry and learn as I go?” The answer is both yes and no. A great film school is certainly not for everyone. You have to be passionate about studying films and the process of filmmaking. These programmes are years of hard work. Becoming a great filmmaker isn’t just knowing how to light a scene or how to write nice dialogue. You need to understand philosophy and psychology, culture and sociology and history. You need to understand both the emotional and the visual impact of one lens or filter or light over another. At a film school, you have years to create, experiment with and develop your own style and expression. Should you decide to enroll in a film school, you have to find the one that matches your interests and aspirations.
As for me, I studied engineering before beginning my film career. Directors like Priyadarshan and Ram Gopal Varma who demanded the most from me also helped me learn the most as well. The toughest thing to master as an untrained actor was dialogue. You had to deliver your lines at the high volume audiences were used to while ensuring that the words were clearly understood and had the right emotion and all this over multiple takes. I learnt it on set by observing the great character actors on and off camera. Now, in many ways the Indian film industry is bridging closer to the Hollywood system. With new film schools gaining popularity in India, it is possible that we might reach this stage eventually.