One of the most celebrated film institutes in the country, the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), which is under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the government of India, has given several gems to the Indian film industry such as Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Raju Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra among others.
In a recent interaction at Toonz Media Group’s Animation Masters Summit 2023 with Dr. Milind Damle, the executive head CFOL of FTII and an alumnus of the renowned institute, revealed that the Pune institute is set to expand its repertoire by introducing a new full-time three-year course in animation and VFX.
As the Indian film industry has been increasingly making use of VFX for their content, there has been a rising need to understand this craft. Talking about filmmakers’ perspectives on VFX, Damle said, “The perspective is changing and new opportunities are coming up. The films need to be shot in a way that creates scope for visual effects. This has created a wonderful opportunity for writers because they can write things which can be translated for the screen using VFX.”
Recognising the need for skilled artists and technicians in the animation and VFX field, FTII will soon commence its full-time three-year course focusing on these sectors this August. “We will be bringing industry experts to the institute to share knowledge about technology and every aspect related to VFX, with the help of the experience they have gained,” said Damle. He also added that the course will foster collaboration between animation and VFX students and the regular film students, opening up exciting possibilities for interdisciplinary projects. While FTII’s current focus is on animation and VFX with no plans for gaming or comics courses, the institute remains open to expansion and adaptation to meet the industry’s evolving needs.
In recent years, there has been a notable distinction between content produced for theaters and content produced for OTT platforms. The flexibility of OTT platforms is giving content creators a chance to explore various formats. Acknowledging the demarcation between TV and OTT, FTII has taken a proactive step by starting a six-month course for students interested in producing shows for television and OTT.
Highlighting the role of writers, Damle expressed his opinion, “Nowadays, writers are driving the content formats on OTT platforms and have a significant influence. Television is now considered a writer’s medium.”
According to Damle, the Mumbai film industry lacks organisation and structure, leading to a lack of clarity among the industry stakeholders regarding defined wages, rules and regulations. Hence, it becomes crucial to instill industry knowledge in the students. As one of the two premium film institutes in India, FTII launched courses in 2017 to help students tap into their potential and understand whether they belong to the film industry. Damle said, “We have tied up with various other universities and have had around 16,000 participants for the short-term courses which were launched in 45 cities of India.”
On a personal front, the FTII alumnus with a specialisation in film and TV editing, has over the years worked as a writer, producer and director. His diploma project, Dwijaa, won him a National Award in 2005. Since graduating from FTII, Damle has been teaching film students and has a strong passion for teaching. He stated, “I have always loved teaching because if you keep your mind open enough, you learn every day, and each student becomes your teacher. I’ve been a student of cinema for the last 25 years.”
Damle shared that he has written a script for an animated movie for which he is currently pitching the idea to producers, aiming to bring his creative vision to life on the big screen.