Kurt Inderbitzin, helmsman of Annapurna International School of Film and Media, shares the institute’s plan of action and the course he has charted for aspiring actors and film-makers.
Annapurna International School of Film and Media has emerged as the first non-profit, privately managed film and media institute in the country. The school offers degree programmes and short courses and is located in the heart of Annapurna Studios in the City, one of country’s largest film and television production studios.
Talking about strengths of the school and the value addition it creates for the student, Kurt Inderbitzin, CEO, says, “Many vocational course schools pop up and some of them operate for a few years and die. The two-month courses they offer teach the student a computer application. For instance, if a student aspiring to become a writer joins a course, they teach Microsoft Word and expect him to write a novel at the end of the course using the application. In a four-year degree programme, we teach student literature, history, writing skills among many others. That is how film-makers make connections while writing the script. In the movie Shrek, the writers studied mythology; otherwise they could not relate to the dragons and princess.
“The students get to write short stories, sample novels as part of the course. We would not spend five minutes teaching these applications. For instance, a guy who works on FCP earns `15,000 a month and the guy (film-maker) who directs the editor earn `10 lakh a month. We want to create film-makers, not technicians,”
The school is trying to compete with global film schools and make the location and fee pricing as a competitive advantage. Kurt says, “Our goal is to be counted as one of the best film schools in the world. There are many students who do not want to travel to far-off locations. The tuition fee is also far cheaper. We also expect 25-35 per cent of our students from other countries in next three to four years,”
When asked how much of the direction or acting can be learned at any film school, he says, “Making a good film is not easy. There are thousands of techniques that an artist should learn. Acting is not only an artistic skill but also a technical skill. However, there are people with sheer passion who have succeeded without formal training. For instance, Albert Einstein was not a trained physicist, but his laws changed the world. On the flip side, directors like Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Subhash Ghai went to film schools before making great films.
“The top 500 schools in the world are non-profit. If our school makes profits, they will not come to me or to the founders. The profits will be directed for better services like students scholarships, technology and faculty,” says Kurt.
When asked why some parents are still not comfortable while their children pursuing a film or media as a career, he says, “Parents’ natural inclination is to get their children take the safest route and ensure there is a roof over the head and food on the table. This is not right. If a person takes the safest route sans passion, he ends up working 50 hours a week, 50 weeks a year for next 50 years — in a job that he hates. The parents are in a way gifting the student a very secure but miserable life. I always believe and tell my children, ‘pursue your passion, work hard and money follows.’ One should also understand the media industry is growing at 14 per cent while the Indian economy is growing at around five per cent. There are a lot of opportunities in industries like television, gaming, films and apps,” Kurt points out.
The school has partnered with media companies across the country for placements. “Even with our short courses, we placed all the graduates who wanted a placement and are not on an acting course. It is difficult to place an actor because director looks for various factors from height to complexion, depending on the need of the character. However, many of our students went for auditions and got selected for different roles,” he says.
The school has brought on board many industry legends such as Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Kamal Hassan, Mani Ratnam, Govind Nihalani and K Raghavendra Rao.
“Every week, two or three people whom one knows by name come to take class. It is a great experience for the students and to the school to have these great people,” Kurt added.