iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hindustan Times
Kolkata, February 13, 2013
Until recently, the choice of courses for students finishing their class XII was fairly limited (by international standards) if they wanted to stay in India: engineering, accounting, medicine, law, commerce, science etc. ‘Creative’ fields were limited to Mass Communication and Architecture.

However, creative courses are now booming in India. Schools teaching film, media, fashion design, photography, animation etc are launching every month and are proving very popular with students. In pursuing one of these courses, students face two significant challenges: firstly, deciding whether the student is a good fit for this career and secondly, selecting the right institute for the student.

Here is the advice we give students who are considering a creative line: these fields are hard work, both mentally and physically, with long hours, often in uncomfortable locations. This means that you have to make a great impression on every job, and need to be open to constantly reskilling and retraining.

Many students also ask if they should study film and media directly after their 12th standard, or take a more traditional degree and then study film at a PG level. My response is that, for most students, finishing their graduation should be a priority as it opens up so many doors in the future. If you can find a film course that allows you to graduate with a degree, then there is no benefit in waiting - go ahead and enroll in the film programme. If you can’t find a film degree course that you like, then study something else and look at film as a PG option.

The second challenge that students and their families face, is how to select a training institute. Unlike business, science or engineering, there is no ranking system for film and media schools. This makes it very difficult to compare schools.

Internationally, an MFA or MA is the standard postgraduate qualification in film or media, with either a BFA or BA as undergraduate. In India, the situation is far more complex. Many film schools only offer their own, unaccredited certificate or ‘diploma’. Some schools offer courses such as B.Sc or B.Tech that are somehow modified to include film or animation subjects. Only a few schools offer full-time degrees in film and media. So, where does these leave students?

Currently in India, the only option available to prospective students is to go and visit the schools in person. Be wary about bold claims regarding placement statistics. Focus instead on the quality of the education and the quality of the faculty and alumni networks - this is where the real job opportunities will come from.