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FTII’s short courses gain popularity across the country

By Prachi Bari
UPDATED ON NOV 26, 2019 04:26 PM IST

PUNE: The Film and Television Institute of India’s (FTII) short-term courses in various disciplines of filmmaking launched in May 2017, have been receiving an overwhelming response.

Introduced under the ‘Skilling India in Film and Television’ (SKIFT) programme, more than 6,500 participants have undergone training across the country through these courses, said Sandeep Shahare - professor, TV engineering, and national coordinator of SKIFT.

“The idea behind SKIFT was set up with an aim to provide quality cinema literacy which is affordable and accessible,” said Shahare who has coordinated these courses at 42 locations across India.

Ranging in duration from five days to three weeks, these courses are conducted in association with state government, universities, educational institutes and other bodies. Every month, different courses ranging from basic acting, screenplay writing to film appreciation are held in different parts of the country. A weekend batch on Music Appreciation in Tamil Nadu costs Rs 1,770; a Children’s Basic Acting course in Jaipur (Rs 17, 700) and a Foundation Course in Screen Acting is priced at Rs 30,000.

Shahare said, so far 175 courses have been conducted across India with a majority of them in cinematography and a 40-day course in film making. The student intake varies from 24 seats to 40 seats and usually 90 per cent of the seats are filled-up the moment a course is announced.

“We hire faculty and the lowest fees we have charged is Rs 150 plus GST for a two-day course. These courses have many tie-ups and sponsorships- for example, Canon has sponsored five cameras and a few lenses; Studio Assist has given FTII four tripods and Yasuka Corporation has sponsored the lights. Besides this, the course organisers have to hire equipment for the cinematography course.

SKIFT was the outcome of the Hewitt report, which recommended that FTII should introduce short-term courses to upgrade itself to international standards. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2010, had contracted the Gurgaon-based Hewitt Associates for a report on how to revitalise and upgrade FTII. The consultant recommended re-modelling of the courses under public-private partnerships and profit-generating short term courses.

SKIFT is a wonderful initiative: Aruna Raje Patil, film director and alumni, FTII

Aruna Raje Patil, a member of FTII’s academic council and an alumni termed SKIFT as a wonderful initiative. “The Institute’s full-time courses create filmmakers where they can hone their skills and become part of the film industry, while these short courses help those interested in learning the ABC of films and thus create students with a better understanding if they wish to join FTII for the full three-year course.

“SKIFT helps in creating a large spectrum of people who will understand the medium of films; it allows the participants of short courses to express themselves and also discover new things. This is a good attempt at exposing cinema as a medium and goes beyond commercial cinema or the so-called Hindi cinema. “These courses make it easy for people from various backgrounds to get into the basics of cinema and learn to appreciate cinema on the whole,” she said.

Mohan Agashe, actor and former FTII director

Short courses help generate interest in cinema as a whole and help make the institute self-sufficient. But during my tenure, I did not shorten the course; instead I wanted to introduce multiple entry and exit of the annual course which would create a solid basis for students coming to study at FTII. The idea as a syllabus designer was to create a common course for a year like a foundation course and then select your specialisation. But it was bad-mouthed by many as there was a lot of political interest during my tenure. My proposal could have given students a solid foundation after which they could get some practical experience working in the industry, come back and decide upon the subject of their choice. Even now I feel that the institute has a lot of potential to run on its own steam with capital funding from the Government.

But everything went off-track with political interference and things derailed badly. There was no accountability and the course was shut down. Now with technology, we see some short courses with TV, and technology should be put to good use, but this should be in the interest of the participants and not the institute.

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