Film Appreciation and Organization Development
December 2018, I decided to attend the 2nd Winter Film Appreciation program organized by FTII and NFAI in Pune. I took the decision primarily because of my love for films and the fact that the program title said “Film Appreciation Through The Lens of Life”. Read on to find what I found.
Engage To Disengage
The program began with some surprises for me and told me that while I continue to make assumptions, how the universe continues to surprise me or even startle me. I had assumed the program to be not a full day affair. The program brochure did not explicitly mention about full day course neither did it deny it. The program dates were 7th to 22nd December. This lends itself for a higher possibility a full day course. I chose to assume otherwise. That assumption proved to be wrong and I was surprised to find it was indeed a 9 to 6 schedule.
Having completed a few courses on self-discovery I was expecting a certain type of conversation and pattern of conversations to emerge especially when we were talking about life. The program surprised me with its pattern of conversations. I found them markedly different from what I had got used to. This made me realize how I have shifted my expectations. A few years back I would have been perfectly fine with these type of conversations.
I took the facilitators advice and decided to sit with a “position to draw value”. She kept on urging us to “mine gold in every situation” and I kept on sliding down the negative spiral. This dilemma continued within me and kept on telling myself to continue with the program while also planning to either drop the entire program or bunk a few sessions in between.
I did manage to create situations which finally led to me missing classes for a few days. This was justified by telling myself that if my heart is not into it then I should not do it, while also debating if I should have done more homework before taking the decision to be part of the program. One part in me kept telling me to go back to the program. It urged me to believe the original premise, the program will help me in my life and my work.
I spent a few days away. Some doing work and some doing nothing but reading. Finally, I decided to go back to the program and explore what it offered.
The 2nd Innings
Obviously, the conversations had moved forward, though continued to follow earlier patterns. We engaged in some conversations focused on my absence from the program. I realized this has been a recurring pattern with me. In such situations, I actively disengage before re-engaging with a system. Typically when the system does not meet my imagined expectations in the first innings. In some cases, the option to re-engage with the system or the person has long been forgone.
This was lesson enough for me to stay focused and engaged in the conversations. The short-term nature of the program and the fact that I am the odd man out actually made me focus more. It was funny how these same 2 things were the reasons for my disengagement earlier. The same things became the reason for my reengagement once I changed my perspective.
I was more vocal and participative in the discussions and more willing to share a part of my life story. This was still not whole-hearted and I would routinely stop and ask myself if what I am planning to say is functional or dysfunctional in the context. This gap before I react to a stimulus in the system helped me actually reflect on my thoughts and reconsider what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. A huge step for me and it really helped me stay engaged in most conversations.
Me Vs Them
Two things started to happen. Firstly. I noticed a part of my life in almost every movie. Secondly, I found most people around me interesting and intriguing. I realized that most of these individuals had chosen to do the course because they were damn serious about their craft. They were in the room because they really wanted to study cinema technically and were looking to build their body of work in the film industry.
I realized how different I am from these people and how different are they from most other professionals I have met so far. Most of us complete our education because we want a job. and we start with the end result and then trace it back to a suitable and affordable education qualification. These guys had started with what they like and then tracing their path to achieve excellence in their craft by pursuing relevant programs, holding on to relevant people and conversations whenever and wherever they would get them. The passion with which they were pursuing their passion was something that I had never experienced before neither within me or within anyone else. It started to rub off on me and I started to ask myself about my own commitment to my passion.
In this whole process, we were watching some amazing cinema from across the world and I was getting different lenses to look at the world of cinema. I realized that irrespective of how the final product looks or how successful the product is, making a film takes a lot of passion and hard work from many people.
If you don’t believe this, look at the YouTube video on the Making of Tumbaad. And then ask yourself am I willing to persist in face of such adversities for my dreams and passions.
We saw some amazing films like Life is Beautiful, Aankhon Dekhi, Belle De Jour, Matrix, Court and many others. I was looking at some of these movies for the first time while some others with a renewed lens. This made me notice similarities in the movie narrative and our lives. For example, the movie “Matrix” talked about artificial intelligence and its impact on our lives 20 years back and here we are talking about something similar becoming real now.
We were introduced to camera angles, hero’s journey, and the Soviet montage among other things. The course facilitator was an industry veteran with 5 national awards. She ensured we interacted with a variety of professionals including commercially successful movie director, a very funny music composer, a veteran Marathi theatre artist and another accomplished film director. Listening to these individuals and 49 others in the room I realized the power of stories and I saw the connection between this course and my quest to improve my story writing abilities.
So what’s this all about?
I could keep writing about my learning and unlearning in the course. But the reason I decided to pen this down is to share some of the key lessons that I took back from these 14 days. I picked up the following quotes as lessons.
The Participants included 40 men and 10 women from 14 different Indian states
1 participant from Singapore was specifically mentioned every time these particular statistics were mentioned to visiting faculty
Your Life is the conversation you are
Every character plots its own course
Film characters live truthfully under imaginary circumstances
Text is what is said, written but the sub-text is what is implied and unspoken
The director has complete clarity about the vision. Editor brings in objectivity in this vision. This balance is necessary and forms the basis of their fights. The director is likely to lose objectivity as he/she is consumed by their vision
Flashback is always assumed to be true as it’s a narrative from the past
Good movies and stories show and not tell
Good directors tell their artists what they want but don’t tell them how they want it
Resistance causes persistence
Locating your past in your future holds back your future
This classroom version of a film appreciation program is a rare opportunity in the world today. If you are as interested in films, stories and life as I am then I strongly recommend you look this up. In case you need more information or want to dialogue about what I have written and not written here please do get in touch with me.
FTTI Website: http://www.ftiindia.com/
NFAI Website: https://www.nfai.gov.in/