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'What does it take to be a movie star?'

September 04, 2013 17:35 IST

'What does it take to be a movie star?'

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In an online chat with readers, Rahul Puri, executive director, Whistling Woods International answered questions and shared advice on what it takes to pursue a career in films, the opportunities available and more.

For those who missed the live chat, here's the unedited transcript:


hasile-fisile: How can one make it as a Scriptwriter? Besides, how can we protect our stories from being stolen by big Production House (as it has happened many times before)?

Rahul Puri: Scriptwriting requires a lot of dedication to the craft. I would suggest a good creative writing course will help you to format and flesh out your ideas well. After that you must be constantly meeting people and bouncing your ideas off them. Best way is to get the script or story registered. You can do this by becoming a member of FWA of India.


zameer khan: Hi Sir,I am a engineering graduate working in software industry. I want to pursue acting but I dont want to leave my job till I get breakthrough. Please let me know what should I do?

Rahul Puri: There are part-time acting programs that you can look at. Also you can look at working in advertising as well as voice dubbing opportunities that can come your way but both these require a bit more than a part time commitment.


Gaurav M: I can't afford both course fee and time for formal education to learn film making (Direction & Cinematography). How Can I learn and develop skills in both dept.?

Rahul Puri: Well the digital medium today allows you to make films even with your phone. You must continue to make films, all kinds of films and seek feedback by posting on Youtube. Nothing better than audience feedback. There are some part-time short courses that you can consider too. We run a number.


tushar: what does it take to be a movie star?

Rahul Puri: Who knows? Movie stars are born I believe. They are not made. Actors can be made


ganesh-nadar: why do we need acting schools? Dilip kumar, sanjeev kumar, dev anand never went to acting school neither did amitabh bachchan.

Rahul Puri: Some people will need formal training and others will rely on talent alone. Wonderful actors like Nasseruddin Shah and Anupam Kher are also formally trained. Ranbir Kapoor also recently. A formal education allows you the confidence to step into the career in the right way.


Prabhat Pandit: If I have a good script for an art and entertainment movie then how to contact director or produce and how can I release the film

Rahul Puri: You may think you have a good script. But directors and producers need to be equally convinced. I would suggest you first register the story and the script and then send it to offices. If it is dynamite, people will take notice.


vishal: I am interested to career in film industry but how is was possible

Rahul Puri: Generally the careers have been based on apprenticeship and years of experience but there are now good training institutes around like Whistling Woods that can help you learn the craft as well as develop your own network for the film industry.


ganesh-nadar: Is there are course for producers?

Rahul Puri: Yes. Whistling Woods runs an extremely successful Producing course which teaches both the creative and the business aspects. It is the first of its kind in the country and we are extremely proud of the uptake into the industry this course has provided our graduates.


hitansh: I am told that banks don’t give loans to people who work in the movies. you know like a home loan etc. and most part of it is unorganised sector

Rahul Puri: Not true, the film industry was recognised as an industry in 2000.


ganesh-nadar: is it true that whistling woods is very expensive?

Rahul Puri: If you consider that we are a quarter of the price of a similar quality film school anywhere in the world plus we finance all the films that are made on the campus where as other schools make students pay for their films, I do not believe we are expensive.


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Image: Rahul Puri (left) in conversation with Hrithik Roshan at Whistling Woods International
Photographs: Courtesy Whistling Woods International's Facebook page

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Jeswal: I have heard that Bollywood in specific is very unprofessional. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Rahul Puri: I think that there is a marked difference in the professional attitude today. Today we are an pretty well organised and professional business. With more investments at stake, the industry has had to organise and professionalise to ensure mitigation of risk.


mustafa: What sort of hours does one have to keep in this line?

Rahul Puri: Depends what part of the business you are in but I will say, that just like working on any project in any line of business, when its crunch time, there will be a fair few sleepless nights.


alex: I was told that before becoming a director, one must learn editing. It helps one narrate the story better

Rahul Puri: Not necessarily. Editing is handled by specialists who can receive a brief from the director and cut the film based on that. Sometimes its very hard for a director to be objective in his work, therefore there is always room for another point of view. However, like with everything in filmmaking, ultimately its a collaboration.


ganesh-nadar: could you list some of careers in the film industry

Rahul Puri: Director, Producer, Editor, Actor, Cinematographer, Sound Recordist, Sound Designer, Animator, Costume Designer, Production Designer plus a whole host of other related services like media agencies, dubbing artists, graphic designers, digital agents, talent agents, etc.


dananjaypuri: I have some scripts. Who can I approach?

Rahul Puri: You must ensure that all your scripts are registered before approaching anyone. Visit the FWA of India for that. After that, you should first get a sense of which companies will produce the kinds of scripts you have and then approach directly. Good material will always have a place.


kaushal: How does one deal with the uncertainty in the business? To find a new assignment after the old one is over can be very taxing I believe.

Rahul Puri: No not at all. If you have worked hard and delivered well, new assignments will follow you. As the filmmaker moves on so will you if you are a trusted part of the team. Filmmaking is a tough business where you will spend long hours and many days with the same people. You must like them


jinny: What are the things one must be prepared for to be part of the business?

Rahul Puri: Hard work.


kavita-rane: I want to be a cinematographer. People say you should assist a cinematographer to be one. How do I do that?

Rahul Puri: Yes, assisting is an important aspect. Especially in cinematography. You approach a cameraman and see if they will take you on as an assistant. Its an extremely technical subject though and therefore I would advise a course in camera before you do.


newuser: to what extent one has to compromise for a successful career in films? hard work alone doesn't do every thing...

Rahul Puri: There are always compromises to be successful. People believe that there is more compromise in the film business. Its not true. What you decide to compromise is up to you as an individual. Ultimately, work speaks for itself!



Image: Students of WWI discuss a project in class
Photographs: Courtesy Whistling Woods International's Facebook page

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rakesh: What skills are required to be a video editor?

Rahul Puri: Patience, an eye for detail, good communication skills, a strong sense of story, music sense, rhythm and pacing sense. Hard work.


vijay: What are some of the cheaper universities/colleges with good film programs?

Rahul Puri: Film school anywhere is not cheap unless its state subsidised and that has its own issues. You pay for the facilities you wish to have. However if you are passionate and determined to make a career in this business, then it will not seem like such a stretch. There are scholarship programs available too. Whistling Woods offers them.


naman: what are the highest paying jobs in the film industry today?

Rahul Puri: Highest pay in the film business is like highest pay anywhere else. It depends on the value you add.


raghuprasad raikar: Hi Rahul Sir, after working 12 years in IT industry, I quit the job to chase my dream which is to make no non-sense movies ..I am in learning phase..just bought a DSLR...watching lot of vedios to teach myself...I know its going to be very tough..Need your motivation


Rahul Puri: You have chosen wisely. You cannot follow this business and be secure doing something else. This field is all consuming. You must throw yourself at it. But give yourself a deadline. Do not allow yourself to linger and go nowhere. You have a back up in IT.


romil: Sorry I just saw this. What does a digital agent do?

Rahul Puri: Handles your overall digital strategy on the internet and mobile.


Sankalp: I have been editing videos and audios using free software available on the internet. I am a movie buff and I write reviews about movies for imdb. I want to start a career as an editor in bollywood. can u guide me?

Rahul Puri: You must do some kind of course. Depending on your previous work, a good school can guide you to upgrade your skills and learn the craft. They can also then network you into the system.


Bol: Hi, what is the criteria for assisting a director? and how to go about it?

Rahul Puri: There are many roles for an assistant director and there are many of them on a film set. Some assistants just handle costume, some just do continuity and some only handle call times. You would need to start from the bottom and work your way up. It’s hard and time consuming. The best way is to make a portfolio of some of your film work and answer calls for AD's.


romil: I want to get into choreography. How do I go about it? Is there any other way besides assisting a choreographer?

Rahul Puri: You would need to have a strong set of contacts if you are not going to assist.


newuser: does your film institute guarantee an opportunity in films for students?

Rahul Puri: There is no guarantee anywhere. No University worth it salt guarantees jobs. We guarantee a world class education and a terrific learning environment. We also provide on-going placement assistance and have an extremely strong record of placement and work with many partners.


vittal: Hi Rahul, How could I make money with documentary movies if I make any.

Rahul Puri: Documentary filmmaking is a tough business here. There is limited money and limited exhibition platforms. Most documentaries are funding by foreign entities or NGO's. Good producers do make money but its a hard old business. However, with the expansion in the channels and the changing tastes of the audience as well as the must digital platform, it could be an interesting area.


vittal: I want to get into movie direction..I am 28. Can I start at this age?

Rahul Puri: Yes you can. It's not too late. You are still young.



Image: For representational purposes only
Photographs: Courtesy Whistling Woods International's Facebook page

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