We’re barely three weeks away from March 26, 2017, when thousands of aspirants will appear for the coveted Film & Television Institute of India, Pune’s entrance exam. As we head closer to the D-day, here’s some advice from FTII alumnus Dipankar Sarkar, who graduated in Film Editing in 2015, on useful resources and how to approach the entrance:
How was your experience at FTII? What does FTII mean to you?
It was my mecca of rebirth as a film enthusiast. Our batch was fortunate enough to be taught by Jeethu Mandal, who has worked with filmmakers like Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Ketan Mehta. He won the Filmfare Award for editing Sarfarosh (1999). Besides that, we had workshops with professionals from the film industry including Argha Kamal Mitra (National Award-winning Bengali film editor) and Akiv Ali, who has worked with filmmakers like Anurag Basu, Milan Luthria, Ayan Mukherjee among others. So the gamut of industry interactions and learning was extremely beneficial.
What kind of expectations/image of the institute did you go in with? Did it change in the years that followed (particularly after the appointment fiasco)?
I was born and brought up in Tezpur, Assam and did my graduation in Optometry and Vision Science from Kolkata. Coming from a science background, I came in with the impression that the institute will teach me the craft of filmmaking and equip me with the skills of working as a professional in films. But what I achieved from the place is an experience beyond my expectation. It has helped me be a better individual in my field of practice.
In the years that followed, I’ve seen students excel in their endeavor, despite whatever happened. Prantik Basu’s (2007 batch) award-winning film Sakhisona is one of such triumphs.
(Sakhisona won the prestigious Tiger Award at the 46th International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands this year).
Could you walk us over the admission process once you clear the written?
Admission is a three-tier process, starting with the written. Once you score a certain percentage in the written exam, there is an orientation program.
The program, which the institute conducts with students selected on the merits of written text, extends 3-4 days. During the orientation, the aptitude, interest and skill required for admission to the particular department are assessed in general by faculties and experts.
Thirdly, the interview where the applicant is questioned by a mixed panel. The panel consists of the Institute’s director, dean, HODs from different departments and an industry professional.
What advice would you give to FTII aspirants?
I think the decision to select candidates is based on the latter’s overall interest and understanding of the medium throughout their life. The various fields from which questions are asked during the written can be closely studied by analyzing the question papers. You can download them from the institute’s website.
Are there particular books/websites you’d recommend reading/following for FTII preparation?
Aspirants can study the Manorama Yearbook 2017 to brush up on current affairs and general knowledge. Basic book on film studies like Film Art: An Introduction by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson or How to read a film by James Monaco will help understand the film movements, contributions from filmmakers of different nations, shot divisions etc.
Check out websites like elementsofcinema.com. YouTube videos on particular aspects of filmmaking such as mise en scène, editing style, shot division, camera movements, set design etc. will also be fruitful.
What projects have you been working on?
After finishing my course, I worked as an onset data manager on Raees (2017) and Meri Pyari Bindu (2017).
I also edited a documentary for Cinematographers’ Combine titled In a Light Voice (2017) which was shown in Paris.
Currently, I am developing ideas for fiction and non-fiction which are in different stages of development. Some of my writings on cinema have appeared online (including The Quint, Scroll.in) and in print (Mint, The Hindu).
Any last minute tips for aspirants?
Stay confident and believe in yourself.