- In this profession, one should be willing to travel and interact with people
- Doing multiple internships at the college level is very helpful. Though most internships don’t pay you money.
- Salaries are rapidly being standardized.
- Meeting the client’s demand is the top priority.
- The course fee in govt. colleges are quite subsidized for a course in journalism.
- Writing regularly is the most important key.
Name — Aishwarya Kandpal
Profession — Creative Director at SG Dream Media Productions
Age — 27
Gender — Female
City — New Delhi
Where have you been born and raised?
I grew up in a small Himalayan town of India, called Nainital. My childhood was governed by the obvious scenarios of undertaking a 3-kilometer uphill climb to school and back, accompanying my mother on weekly grocery shopping for a roughly similar distance, waddling through heavy downpours in monsoons, helping the family on Sundays with house cleaning and having much less exposure to the supposed attractions of city life as my peers did.
We tend to romanticize the lives of people in the mountains but for those who go through the rigor every day, it is far from that. The mountains made me appreciate mundane things like a slow life or the little joys found in simply whiling away time under the sun and not running after materialistic pleasures. All this nurtured me into a person who strongly held on to the idea of roots, of home and the carrier of a distinct culture which was to later become my identity.
And what is your family background?
My family includes my parents and my older brother. Ours was a very spartan household where my dad cultivated the idea of “less is more” in us. He is an Intelligence officer and with a strong political stance but that did not quite rub off on us. My mother would manage both; the house and her own full-time job of Academics. Today, when I see millennials cribbing about this strange phenomenon called “adulting,” I’m reminded of all those numerous mothers who pulled off multiple jobs with the ace of Keanu Reeves in the Matrix!
Who all had the most influence on you and how?
I think your earliest learnings are also your strongest learnings in life. My mother, a strong academic and an extremely kind and gentle human being have had one of the greatest influences on me. My father, entirely self-made, carved his life from scratch and taught us to do the same. He always taught me to be fiercely honest and never flinch from an adversity. Together, my brother and I grew up in extremely loved and caring environments.
Please give us a summary of your career so far.
I completed my schooling from St. Mary’s Convent, Nainital securing a good enough percentage which paved my way for the cutthroat environment of Delhi. I graduated as a Bachelor Honors in History from Hansraj College and went on to finish my Master’s in mass communication from AJK MCRC, Jamia.
Which institutes are best for the education/training of the Film production? What are the costs of training?
There are several colleges and universities which both give you a degree and a stepping stone into the film, television or the digital industry.
The film production course at Jamia is quite good as it lets you access great quality education and equipment at a very subsidized fee. The academic body is composed of some of the best professors, some of whom are celebrated documentary film makers or ex-national television people.
Colleges that are now beginning to produce some bright minds are Amity University,
Kamla Nehru College and a few other Delhi University colleges.
The cost at a Private College would be 2–8 lakhs and at a Government College would be under 2 lakhs for the entire course.
How does one enter in Film profession?
Start your internships in the summer breaks that you get in college. Intern at 2–3 places each year to get a hang of what you finally wish to do. You could intern with newspapers, production houses or digital agencies. Stipends are usually not offered but some production houses could pay between 3–5 thousand for a month.
What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?
This is highly subjective. For Film Industry, some people start out as freelancers, others assist directors or documentary film makers while some directly begin with production houses donning multiple hats. Some could also start with TV channels. I started with TV channels.
While assisting, you could expect something between 15–20 thousand a month. The remuneration is similar to that in production houses. Expect your workplace to make you work a lot on multiple things in the beginning. You would be doing camera work, writing pitches or scripts, carrying out research, running small errands, coordinating between freelancers and clients, managing budgets and also planning shoots. Gradually though, you should be able to find your niche which could be scriptwriting, cinematography, direction or even production.
For 5 yrs. experience — This entirely depends on the body of work you have created. It could range from 35,000 per month to 90,000 per month.
For 10 yrs. experience — 1 lakh to 1.2 lakh a month. It could be lesser if you’re with a newspaper.
For 15 yrs. experience — For those in TV channels and newspapers, it is around 2–3 lakhs, while for freelancers, it varies on experience.
For 20+ yrs. experience — This is again driven by your experiences and the number of films/ videos you have created. After so much experience, filmmakers are usually on their own and take up sponsored projects worth a few lakhs.
Describe your work? What do you typically do on a normal workday?
My work comprises receiving a pitch from a particular brand (private companies) or the ministry (government projects) and overseeing it till the end of delivering the final film. These include documentaries, TVCs, and short digital videos.
I first design concepts which are aligned with the core thought of the brand. These include both fiction and non-fiction ideas which are reworked after multiple rounds of feedback. Once approved, these ideas are fleshed out as scripts, storyboards, and shoot plans. The final leg is the shooting part which involves directing the video along with a team of people. It is then shared with the client who, if you’re lucky, will approve it with minimal feedback.
The process is different if you’re writing a TV series. First up is a few months of research and scripting, then the episodes are shot over a few more months after which the series is released on the web or television on a certain date. This tends to involve generally bigger crews.
What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider the Career in Film/Media Industry?
The field is extremely satisfying if you, even occasionally, get to work on films that are close to your heart. As a filmmaker, you have the potential to identify a cause, a topic, an idea and bring it out on video. Digital has completely redefined the way we express ourselves. Publishing your work has never been this easy before and so has the demand for video content so it is also a great time to enter digital filmmaking.
The ideal scenario of work-life balance cannot be found anymore unless of course you were living in the 90s and working a government job which ended at 3 pm every day. Millennials are hard-wired to prioritize their career over everything. And yet they try their best to give time to their vocation, families, and health, which I think, is commendable. That said, there could be long working hours if you have client deadlines to meet.
What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?
Well, there are steady job holders like management folks and doctors and then there are filmmakers. The profession isn’t the first choice of anybody’s parents because of its non-traditional setup and an unorganized industry. Even after you enter it, your initial years will always be a bit of a struggle though consistency and being honest to your work will show results after the first 3 years. Physical labor and field work could be daunting although it works for someone like me because I enjoy being on the streets interacting with people.
In my short span of 5 years itself, though, I have seen things change. Companies now have separate vacancies for a video person, freelancers are more and more in vogue and salaries are being standardized.
What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?
Cinematography and editing are some of the best technical skills to have. If you’re a freelancer in either, you could be charging 15–25 thousand easily per day per project. Writing is the greatest asset to have. No project will ever take off if it hasn’t been written well.
What kind of person would be happy in your career?
Someone who likes to hustle, enjoys meeting all kinds of people, is happy traveling across the country, isn’t too fond of the corporate lifestyle isn’t afraid of experimenting.
Would you consider an alternate profession at this point in your career?
If I wasn’t making video content, I would probably be into academics. The academics too would be about the ideology behind changing video content, so you can imagine!
What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?
Identify what you like doing and do it consistently over the years. Write less write small, write personal but keep writing as it is the basis of everything. I’m quite bad with networking and socializing but it is something which could greatly help one’s work and career.