From film school to feature films - Career Planning - Student - The Independent

From film school to feature films

He only graduated this year, but Anirudh Ganapathy is already writing and directing his first feature film. He owes it all to his time at film school

Anirudh Ganapathy graduated from Met Film School with a BA (Hons) Practical Filmmaking in 2013. His film 'Action' was nominated for the International Short Film Festival of India and his first feature film - which he has written and will be directing - is currently in pre-production for release at the end this year. Here he talks about how he got into the film industry and offers advice for other students considering a career as a filmmaker.

When I was growing up I read and watched all my favourite directors give interviews for papers and talk shows. Most of them talked about how they did not believe in the concept of film schools and how it is important to learn by gaining experience on set and not in a school. Back then I agreed to that and was inspired to follow their advice. But as I grew up I realized through experience and observation that it does not work that way anymore. Those were the 80s and we are now in 2013.

The industry we are in now demands qualifications, because they don’t have the time to teach you. If you wish to be considered you need to have had formal education. That’s when I decided to go to film school. But my favourite directors had a point - experience is important too. I therefore needed to find a place where I could get both simultaneously and after doing my research I decided that Met Film School was the ideal place for an aspiring director like me.

Before my course I had no knowledge, no experience and absolutely no idea how films were actually made. All I knew was every single line of dialogue from ‘The Godfather’ by heart. In spite of that, I made a film on the first day of school. Yes, on the very first day I found myself learning the basics of filmmaking by actually making a film. That is what I had hoped to get from the course – more practical hands on experience. And over the next two years I learnt more about films by making shorts, documentaries and experimental films and also learnt about television by making TV shows. The experience turned out to be beyond my expectations.

The best surprise was however, the tutors who were successful and talented professionals who were always so easily accessible. They treated me more like a colleague than a student which was intimidating at first but it is the sole reason why I am so confident at what I do today. My tutors then are my mentors and friends now whom I can discuss my projects with.

My goal has always been to tell stories. As a kid I memorized all my bedtime story books during the day and told them to my parents at night. It worked the other way in my house. And now that I have chosen a much larger medium I can get the whole world’s attention.

If your goal is to work in the film industry you need to first know that things here are done quick and there is no place for a laidback attitude. There is no shortcut to success and you have to pay your dues. But you can pay your dues at the right place and speed up the process. I did that and it was the best decision I ever made. My films have been to festivals, I have written feature length scripts and now I am in the process of developing my first feature film.

Networking plays a vital role when you are at university where you have the fortune to meet so many talented people from the industry. On a good course you should get the opportunity to work on a lot of films outside of school; take every opportunity you can. If you work for them today, they will work with you tomorrow.

My two years at Met Film School were intense. You are working on university projects all day through the week and your weekend slots start getting filled with outside projects. But it was all worth it. By the end of the first year you should have some valuable names in your phonebook and, if you play your cards right, by the end of the course your name could be considered valuable in theirs.                                                               

Met Film School is an independent film school based at Ealing Studios in London. Applications are still open for its BA practical filmmaking programme.

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