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How lucrative is film production as a career option?

It certainly involves a lot more than opening a production house and making films

Sreyashi Mazumdar @Sreyashi27 20 July 2018, 1:26 PM
Would you like to become a film producer?

Would you like to become a film producer? Image: Thinkstock

There are many who want to dabble in direction, acting, editing, cinematography, etc., but have you heard of someone who seriously considers film production as a career option? Umm, after all, it takes a pretty heavy-duty bank balance to produce/finance a film. At least that's what we think, courtesy all the big names churning out movies in Bollywood.

Twinkle Khanna is done with acting, so now she is a producer, the first lady of Bollywood aka Gauri Khan is a producer, too, courtesy Red Chillies and husband Shah Rukh Khan. Then there are the Johars and the Chopras, the Kashyaps and the Akhtars. Film production often seems to be the world for and of the biggies.

But even those who come from a non-starry background can opt for film production as a career. T2 Online spoke to a few industry insiders as well as some experts and here's what they have to say about film production as a career option.

Production isn't about theoretical knowledge

"You don't need theoretical knowledge for production. It's more about practical knowledge. You learn production work on film sets. No course can teach you production. Unlike subjects such as management, editing and, in fact, acting as well, production is all about on-field work. As a producer, you need to have a presence of mind, good communication skills, you should know how to prioritise work and manage egos," says Marijke Desouza, who is known for her work as a producer in films such as Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Kurbaan and 2 States.

So, are film schools of no use if one wants to study production? Desouza says, "I wouldn't say there's no point in going to film schools and study production, but then I would say practical experience is any day more important than theory. Talking of production as a career option, if you have that zing and zeal in you, there's no one to stop you. There were people who left Infotech and joined me as interns. In a span of three years, they made the best of the available opportunities and now all of them are successful producers."

Not a lucrative profession

While opting for a career, we always have its monetary benefits in mind. How much are we going to earn for all the efforts we put in. Those opting for film production as a career need to know that it won't be hunky dory from day one, rather the road to success can often be a long one. "I never call production a profession as it’s not lucrative to start off with. Neither is it a cakewalk. But it also depends on what kind of films you are willing to make. Anyone can set a camera and make a film now. And I like the democracy of the medium at the moment. But to make a good film, you need courage and honesty along with money," says Sudipto Roy, an independent filmmaker and producer whose film Kia and Cosmos has made its way to the Cannes Film Festival.

It's not all about money

As mentioned earlier, we have the notion that film production involves investing huge amounts of money. But production does not necessarily involve financial engagement, there are other aspects as well. "Film production is something that is often ignored. Production has created a huge space for talented, young individuals. The Indian film industry needs to start looking at film production as a creative expression than a managerial role. Every time I want to hire someone to carry on production duties with me, I don’t find the right people. Also, I believe, to a certain extent, there is a general layman’s perception that a producer is someone who puts their own money into the project. Well, that is not true. There are many production roles — creative producer, executive producer, associate producer or the infamous ‘showrunner’ —all being creative production roles. The myth has to be busted," says Faraz Mariam Arif Ansari, an independent filmmaker and producer who has previously worked on projects such as Stanley Ka Dabba, Sisak etc.

Ansari further tells us he explained the lesser-known facets of film production to his brother who has recently finished his Bachelors in Mass Media (BMM) and hopes he chooses to pursue film production as a career.

Did he himself study film production and if so, what made him do so? Ansari answers, "When I decided to pursue filmmaking, while I did my majors in film direction and screenplay writing, along with psychology and theatre, I also did my minors in film production because it is hugely creative and really thrilling."

You need to be street smart

"Production mostly involves budgeting and management. If you are a pro at getting things arranged and have good communications skills to find the cheapest deal then this is the job for you. It's also about being street smart. There are movies which might not fetch you money or to put it correctly, won't set the cash registers ringing. You have to be smart enough to choose the kind of films you want to produce. If you know how to choose your priorities, production is a pretty lucrative career option," says Vedvanti Kasture, studying producing and directing for Electronic and Digital Media at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata.

So people, let money matters not hinder your dreams of pursuing a career in film production. After all, there's much more to it than opening a production house and start making films.

Read more: 

8 questions you should ask yourself before choosing a career

Why is career counselling more important today than it was two decades ago?

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