Course Structure

INSTRUCTION MODULE:

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.

Screenplay Analysis

Considering the fact that the screenplay is the greatest challenge in filmmaking, 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.

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 learntwithout a fair knowledge of cinematography. Starting off with a study of film composition, lighting patterns and different types of camera movements that powerfully bring out the story.Students get an overview on handling cameras practically

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, it 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.

Mise-en-Scene

The French term 'Mise-en-Scene' came from French theatre where it literally means 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.

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 narrativistic design. In Digital Academy-The Film School, students 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 vis-à-vis dubbed sound in the Indian context are carefully discussed. Students are given an overview on the same.

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.

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 recces, cast and crew building, set making, shooting, editing, sound post and the 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 P1 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

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

P10) *The Final Project*

Each student makes a film upto 10 minutes. The emphasis is on learning the management of time and space across multiple events, the creation of scenes and sequences and the ability to devise the correct narrative structure. The students are encouraged to write their own original screenplays. The final project films are edited in the Digital Academy editing studios and the entire sound post-production is also done in Digital Academy audio workstations.

The students can take the completed films as their showreel along with the earlier practical projects.

The Digital Academy student benefit:

- Compact and condensed course

- No previous filmmaking experience or knowledge required except a passion for the medium.

- Intensive workshops by top-of-the-line film professionals

- Writing, shooting and editing a short film to make the student's own show-reel.

A student who graduates in 'Direction' 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 work as a full-fledged Director.

Note:- Curriculum subject to change