Monday, January 18, 2010

Career in Mass Communication / Film Making - Direction

Film making is the process of projecting ideas and insights, plots and relationships on the screen through either a story or a documentary. The making of film involves producers, directors, script and screen play writers, camera people, cinematographers and actors. As such the director is the captain of the ship and has a good working knowledge of all the above areas.

The Prospects

With the proliferation of TV channels and companies, the opportunities for film makers are growing. Film makers could work a) with a production house or TV channel on serials or documentaries b) an advertising agency c) with an established film maker as an assistant d) on their own

Most film makers begin in the production department of a production house and some in an advertising agency assisting the producer and director and working in practically all areas of film making. In 2-3 years if one is on a fast track or in 4-5 years, one can expect to move on to being an assistant director in a film / serial and then to becoming a director in one’s own right.

Many professional film makers branch out on their own after 5-10 years, either setting up their own firms, soliciting clients like corporates looking for advertising or subject-based films, or they work freelance, meeting clients across areas and making films on a variety of subjects. As in all art, recognition comes through critical praise or through awards that establish the reputation of the film maker.
Large TV channels are Star TV, Zee Telefilms, Sony TV, Television Eighteen, MCM Asia and B4Music. Production houses such as Balaji Telefilms, Cinevistaas, Creative Eye, UTV, Metalight, and Nimbus also recruit film makers. Smaller production houses include Optymystix, Contiloe Films and Miditech.

Leading advertising agencies include McCann-Erickson India, Lintas, FCB Ulka, Euro RSCG, Interface, J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), Leo Burnett, Mudra Communication, RK Swamy BBDO, Grey Worldwide, Ambience, Percept. Bates,Lowe Lintas, Rediffusion DY&R, Publicis and American Blackstone.
Independent film production houses in Mumbai include Genesis, Equinox, Big Picture, White Light, Foot Candles and Red Ice.

The Job

Feature film / theatre directors

  • Choose a script or play
  • Hire assistant directors, principal cast members, and key production staff
  • Coordinate the work of writers, directors, managers, and other staff
  • Audition and select cast members
  • Conduct rehearsals. Direct the work of the cast and crew
  • Use knowledge of acting, voice, and movement to achieve the best performances from actors
  • Work with the team of technical people, camera people and actors, managing people’s moods, performance and schedules
  • Approve scenery, costumes, choreography, and music.
  • Coordinate program elements, such as audio, camera, and special effects.
  • Oversee and coordinate the editing and final form of the film

  • Freelance documentary film makers may be commissioned by an organization to make a film or may choose a subject and make the film and then try to market it. Such film makers meet clients and present proposals for films or choose a subject for filming
  • Research the subject, through books, internet and personal interviews. This process may involve traveling
  • Find or create the funding for the film, whether by finding a producer or an organisation that could sponsor the film or by funding it oneself
  • Prepare the script for the film
  • Hire camera people and sometimes, equipment for the making of the film
  • Schedule the shoots and the locations with camera people, relevant authorities in each location and the people being interviewed
  • Shoot the film in various locations
  • Oversee and coordinate the editing and final form of the film
  • If needed, market and promote the film in relevant forums

Personality Traits

  • Deeply interested in people, society, relationships and ideas
  • Creative and original in perceiving situations and in expressing ideas
  • Able to take a stand and persuade people to move towards the director’s vision
  • Able to work in a team with diverse people, often under high stress or even emotional situations
  • Open to handling unpredictable, last minute situations that could be location or schedule-specific
  • Risk taking
  • Untiring over long hours of rehearsals and shoots with unpredictable sleeping patterns
  • Knowledgeable about all technical aspects of film making including camera, editing, lights, sounds, make up and acting

Career Progression

As a fresher, one needs to align oneself with a director with the objective of getting hands on experience and basically trying to learn the ropes. This exercise is not as easy as it sounds and it involves a lot of effort to find someone who is willing to take you on. It is very important to be prepared to face rejections over and over again before landing an offer. Most of the times, one has to rely on a word from one’s network of family and friends just to be able to get an opening. With time and experience, one can hope to grow to the position of an Assistant Director and subsequently a Director.


Most beginners get a starting salary between Rs 5000 and Rs 10,000 per month depending on the qualification of the person and the size of the company. Assistant directors would get paid between Rs 30,000 and Rs 50,000 per month. A film maker can eventually be the creative head of a production house where earnings could range between Rs 10 lacs and Rs 30 lacs per annum.
Freelancer film makers could earn anywhere between Rs 2 lacs to Rs 15-20 lacs per film depending on the reputation of the film maker, nature and quality of equipment used and the client’s needs.

Related Courses/Colleges
Media, Films & Mass Communication
Acting / Modelling Courses
Advertising Courses
Films and Television Courses
Journalism Courses
Public Relations Courses


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