Course Structure

INSTRUCTION MODULE:

Most of the instruction modules for the Film Making course are similar to those of the Film Direction course. The key difference is in the emphasis given to all the technical departments viz Cinematography, Sound, Editing, and Animation and Special Effects in order to create a film director who understands the technicalities of Film Making in a deeper way.

SCREENPLAY ANALYSIS

Considering the fact that the screenplay is the greatest challenge in film making, our course emphasizes the central importance of screenplay. Films are analyzed in class, in terms of screenplay structure and its basic concepts are clearly laid out, encouraging students to draw from their personal experience so that their stories carry a greater degree of social and psychological authenticity. They learn about the Three Act Structure and also alternative narrative structures. They learn how to articulate the premise and identify the central conflict in a story. In the specific context of Indian mainstream cinema, students also learn how to use songs and dances effectively in a film so that they grow organically out of the plot.

DIRECTION:

UNDERSTANDING FILM LANGUAGE

The course assigns a huge importance to understanding film grammar with key emphasis on visual storytelling. This is achieved through a shot by shot analysis of films, where the students learn about the basic principles of cinema and the uniqueness of the Cinematic medium. They learn about narrative structure, management of time and space, dividing stories into sequences and scenes, shot-break down, continuity, Mise-en-scene, transitions and narrative flow. Major films from across the world are shown in order to open up the mind to the vast possibilities inherent in cinema. Students also learn about the history of Cinema, which gives them a deeper appreciation of movies. Irrespective of the kind of films a student wants to make in his/her professional life it is considered necessary that s/he first get exposed to all kinds of world cinema.

MISE-EN-SCENE

The French term 'Mise-en-Scene' came from French theatre where it literally meant all the elements 'put-in-a-scene'. Transposing that idea for Cinema, Mise-en-Scene is a set of all the creative decisions that go into the making of a shot. It therefore includes lensing, lighting, frame composition, camera movement, actor placement, action props, passive props, foreground action and background action. Mise-en-Scene is the ability to use all the above dynamic variables in order to create 'meaning' which is pertinent to the theme and philosophy of the narrative. At Digital Academy-The Film School, students are taught the art of 'Shot making' with the aim of achieving the right dramatic emphasis, the optimum use of space and the correct handling of screen time.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

If celluloid is the paper on which the Director writes, then the camera is his/her pen. No education in film direction is complete without the ability to transpose conceptual ideas into visuals. In fact the language of cinema is primarily a visual language and cannot be learnt without a fair knowledge of cinematography. Starting off with a study of film composition, lighting pattern and different types of camera movements that powerfully bring out the story, students get hands-on experience with Digital cameras i.e. Canon 5D, Arri Alexa and Red Cameras and more as well as exposure to film cameras.

Theory & Practical sessions:

  • -Image formation and Introduction to still photography.
  • -Visual Grammar, composition, camera angles, camera movements.
  • -Principle of Motion Picture Camera, Its parts and functions.
  • -Film Production process and role of a cinematographer.
  • -Lenses and their effective use.
  • -Filters.
  • -Basic theory of Videography.
  • -Chroma key and visual effects.

EDITING

Editing is the final process in the film making workflow. Most directors discover that their films almost always get rewritten on the editing table. Editing is not just about understanding continuity or creating a 'seamless' narrative, editing begins with a larger understanding of the texture and tenor of reality that a film is proposing to create. Every shot, every cut, and every transition is governed by this tenor and texture of reality. When directors learn how to edit, they learn the secret recipe of creating reality, by manipulating time and space.

At Digital Academy-The Film School, students learn how to use the principles of editing to be able to make excellent films.

Theory & Practical sessions:

  • -History of Editing to Modern Day Workflow.
  • -Basic Syntax, Image Collision & Types of Shots.
  • -Editing Exercises & Introduction to Basic Software.
  • -Editing Scenes & Sequences.
  • -Editing Exercises - Silent Continuity, Introduction to Basic Software.
  • -Editing for 10-Shot Continuity.
  • -Editing the Final Sound Post for the Final Diploma Film.

SOUND

Although cinema is primarily a visual medium, sound is an extremely important element in the art of cinematic storytelling. In the hands of a good Director, Sound design is an intrinsic part of his or her narrative design. In Digital Academy-The Film School, directors are taught the importance of sound design. They are shown how different audio elements are manipulated in order to achieve the desired effect of telling the story more powerfully. Sync-sound and its advantages and disadvantages viz-a-viz dubbed sound in the Indian context are carefully discussed.

The following topics will be covered in Theory & Practical sessions:

  • -Sound for Film & Television-definition.
  • -Aesthetic Role of sound in Cinema.
  • -Importance of Sound Design.

Physical Properties of Sound :

  • -Pitch, Timbre, Frequency Range, Dynamic Range etc.
  • -Subjective properties of human hearing.
  • -The effect of space on sound.
  • -Analogue & Digital audio signal.

Types of Microphones & Microphone Techniques:

  • -Audio Mixers.
  • -Digital Audio parameters.
  • -Headroom, noise, distortion.
  • -Production sound mixing.
  • -File transfer from one format to other of DAW.
  • -Analogue-to-Digital and Digital-to-analogue systems.
  • -Filtering, Equalization, Echo effects, Reverberation.
  • -Theatre Acoustics.
  • -Home Theatre reproduction & multiplex sound reproduction.
  • -Final mixed output in various formats including optical sound negative.

HANDLING ACTORS

To be able to direct actors, one ought to be proficient in the medium since actors bring out the Director's vision on screen. This course helps students learn how to effectively communicate with their actors. It teaches the finer nuances of teamwork and how to narrate a script to the actor pertaining to his/her character and helps them enhance their performance. The Director being the captain of the ship, it remains his forte largely how to take optimum performances from his team.

ANIMATION AND SPECIAL EFFECTS IN FILMS

Digital Academy also teaches directors about the technology involved in special effects and animation. This is because directors need to be technically conversant with the technology and the processes involved in creating special effects and animation. Without a proper grounding in this know-how directors would find themselves technically inadequate at the time of shooting or production of such films that require special effects and animation. Our aim is to give the direction students enough knowledge so that they can incorporate the specific workflows related to Special effects and Animation into their scripting, planning, and execution.

FILM PRODUCTION: PRE PRODUCTION TO POST PRODUCTION

Students learn about the importance of planning during pre-production in terms of casting, storyboard, location hunting, budgeting and scheduling. Students also learn about the entire production process of filmmaking from concept to screen including the logistics of recce's, cast and crew building, set making, shooting, editing, sound post and Digital Intermediate process.

Projects:

Analytic Dramatic Continuity Exercises

P1) Two Characters, Two Zones, Single Space Exercise

The students are taught how to place cameras in separate zones of the same space and how to place actors within those zones to enable grammatically correct intercutting. In other words, this exercise teaches the students, how to retain physical continuity by following the rule of 1800 axis and how to retain relational continuity by correctly making eye line matches.

P2) Three Characters, Three Zones, Single Space Exercise

The next project is simply an extension of Project 1 but with the added complexity of three characters instead of two. This additional character creates a third spatial zone and further complicates the issue of eye line matching.

P3) Four Characters, Multiple Zones, Basic Mise-en-Scene Exercise

Students are taught how to use the 3600 space using multiple space zones without causing spatial or temporal disorientation. The rules of changing magnifications as well as changing angles are also taught in this exercise.

P4) Two Characters in movement in a Single Space

Students learn how to create perfect continuity with two moving characters in a single space - moving through multiple zones. The problems of relational continuity are further complicated here.

P5) Three moving characters, moving camera in a single space and multiple zones

Students learn here the nitty gritty of managing character movement along with camera movement. The importance of repeat action shooting and retention of continuity in the 3600 arc of space is taught here along with the practice of using floor plans and story boards to create a dramatically appropriate shot breakdown.

P6) Four Moving Characters

This exercise is similar to exercise in P5 except that it uses four characters instead of three. The creative complexities and shot breakdown challenges are consequently increased.

P7) Mise-en-Scene with Two Characters

In this exercise students are taught how to use all the dynamic variables viz lensing, lighting, character movement, camera movement, and props in order to create "Cinematic Meaning".

P8) Mise-en-Scene with Three Characters

This exercise adds another character to the same creative challenge as the earlier Mise-en-scene exercise.

P9) Mise-en-Scene with Four Characters

An extension of the earlier mise-en-scene exercises with four characters. The emphasis is to make clear, the distinction between coverage of action and shot designing to create meaning. Finally, it is the ability to visually communicate multilateral meanings that distinguish a filmmaker from a recorder of events.

P10) The Final Project

The absolute highlight of this course is the Final Project in which a student gets to be a Director in one unit, a Camera person for another unit, a Sound Recordist for another unit, an Editor for another unit, & an Audio Post Engineer for another unit. This way s/he gets to take not one but multiple show reels at the end of the course - one show-reel as a director & three show-reels as a technician.

In this project, each student writes & directs a 10-minute fiction film, in accordance with the Digital Academy norms.

This exercise is what makes the Film Making course so unique and different from the Film Direction course.

Students are separated into groups or units and each group becomes a ‘rotation’ crew for each of the projects. What this means, is that the Director of one of the projects becomes a Cinematographer for the next, a Sound Recordist for another and an Editor for another. This allows the student to acquire very real hands-on experience of the creative possibilities in each of the technical departments that constitute a film crew.

At the end of this project, each student not only has a show reel as a Director but can also show his or her work as a Cinematographer, Sound Records or Editor. This unique, holistic approach ensures an all round development of faculties and truly enables an individual to call him/herself a complete Film Maker.

The Digital Academy student benefit:

  • - Compact and condensed course
  • - No previous filmmaking experience or knowledge required except a passion to succeed/ for Cinema.
  • - Exposure to an outdoor shoot involving different light conditions
  • - Intensive workshops by top-of-the-line film professionals
  • - Acquiring technical skills in all departments and gaining wholistic knowledge of the entire Film Making process and work flows
  • - Writing, shooting and editing a short film to make the student's own show-reel.

A student who graduates in 'Film Making' from the Digital Academy should be in a privileged position to break into the Film or Television industry, initially as an Assistant Director and eventually as a Film Maker.

Note:- Curriculum subject to change