Film Appreciation FTII/NFAI : How to write a Statement of Purpose.

Your fingers hover above the keyboard. You stare at the blank window, bashing your head inside for some words. You scratch your head, type out five sentences; erase two. You check the form again. 800-1000 words.

And so it begins. The nightmare of writing your statement of purpose .The deciding document which can get you into that life-changing course.

Note: Link to my Statement Of Purpose provided at the end of this article.

Allow me to give you a little backstory here.

My journey in the audio/visual medium of storytelling started about two years ago when I started assisting my close friend and colleague Ashwin Shukla for editing videos for a football team in Pune.

With no prior experience in this field, I started learning from scratch.  Bit-by-bit, day-by-day, per Youtube video, we learnt new tricks and techniques and started learning about the medium in depth. We soon realised, though, that having technical knowledge is not enough. To be better filmmakers, we needed to acknowledge the medium as an art form and study it as such.

Film and Television Institue of India (FTII) and National Film Archive of India (NFAI) are two highly respected names in the film study scene in India and worldwide. So the Film Appreciation Course conducted jointly by these two institutes was the obvious choice for us to expand our knowledge. With a line-up of over seventy movies and masterclasses from directors, writers, and creatives involved; this is the best place to begin your education in cinema.

Getting into the course is no easy job as people from all over the country and even from neighbouring countries apply for the course and only a handful few of them are selected. So yeah, getting this SOP right was a must. Thoroughly nervous and tense, I submitted my form and waited for the news.

Guess what? I got it! I got selected for the course and I am definitely excited to be a part of the whole process. It is such a relief! 😀

And so I write this post today, hoping that I can help fellow film enthusiasts and students to get an idea of how to structure your statement of purpose for a Film Appreciation Course.


 

REQUIREMENTS

To start with, I suggest you should read about your course and try to find out what are the requirements for it. For example, this particular course by NFAI/FTII requires individuals with prior experience in cinema and storytelling. It is not a course designed for beginners who would like to get a gist of the medium. It is also not for people who wish to learn the technical aspect of filmmaking such as script writing, cinematography, editing, etc.This is an intensive course for film enthusiasts to grasp a deeper understanding of the aesthetics and techniques of filmmaking.

This is an intensive course for film enthusiasts to grasp a deeper understanding of the aesthetics and techniques of cinema.

Once you know the course is right for you, you need to explain the reason in the statement.

INTRODUCTION

You need to make an impact with your introduction. The person who is reading these forms must be going over thousands of such statements. What will make him/her stop and read your statement through?

I started my statement with a backstory of my cinema knowledge prior to my visual education and what it meant to me before I had any exposure to world cinema. That helps me put out the need for this course to exist as I did not have enough knowledge to appreciate the medium during my school years.

Note: Do not write the statement in a monotonous manner. You need to provide a hook for the reader to continue into the document. Use gramatically correct and fluid language with variations in scentence lengths to keep the pace interesting. (Eg: The starting of this post)

STORY : HIGHLIGHTING MY REASONS TO JOIN THE COURSE

I continue my story of how I first got into the scene and how I learnt the techniques through books and youtube videos. Basically, it is to show that I have put an effort from my side to try and understand the medium and to get better in it.

I further mention my working experience to solidify the fact that I am fully invested in the field and that this course would be important for me to be a contributing member of the film industry.

CONCLUSION

Conclude your reasons for joining the course in a short paragraph and do not forget to mention that you are well aware of the requirements of the course and you are ready to give your 100% for it.

You should also mention if you plan to use the knowledge gained during the course to educate further and contribute to the community.

End the statement with a finality. I chose to install in them the belief that I respect the medium and so arises my need to better appreciate it.


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE (Snehi Singh) – FAC 2016

Provided above is the link to my statement. Do feel free to read it and get an idea of how to structure your own statement. I wish you good luck for your endeavours and hope that I helped you on the way. 🙂

Please comment and let me know what you think of my statement and by all rights, post suggestions to make it easier for others to write theirs.

Starting with Food Photography

My first food shoot
My first food shoot

This is the third year of my undergraduate photography course and I had been asked to pick two specialisations I would like to pursue this final year.

I chose Food Photography and Travel Photography. Why?

I chose travel not only because I like to travel, explore, tell stories, and create memories; but because I think it is an emerging opportunity in India and there is a lot to it with a business perspective too.

Food, I had not tried much of it before, but it had always interested me. The challenges that it poses just makes it even more exciting than usual, boring studio work. ( No offence to studio people, it’s just my preference). The amount of attention to detail it requires is amazing and the end result could be highly satisfactory. And of course, it has a sturdy business market and would offer regular income in the future. So it’s also a safe wall for me.

Now, I am writing this post because like me, a lot of people might be just starting out with food photography and would have no idea how or where to begin. So, I will be posting regularly about my plans to shoot, my shopping hauls and stuff to help you about.


Before you start off, there are some very important things you should do:

  • Make a list of subjects you would like to shoot and keep a library of reference pictures. Though shooting by instinct or sudden inspirations is also cool 🙂
  • Start collecting props and backgrounds and have a list of things you need to buy. A cool guide @ Food Photography Blog and Souvlaki For The Soul (You should follow his blog too, btw)
  • Research and find out about thrift markets and textile stores and best grocery shopping sites around your area. (Pune has Juna Bazaar; I think most Indian cities have one. Crawford’s Market and Chor Bazaar of Bombay is also a great place to freak out! )

One day I suddenly felt like shooting something. Now it had been only 2 days into the semester and I had no props, no proper cutlery, none of those nice textured wooden backgrounds, nothing. So what could I possibly shoot?

Step 1 : Choose you subject

My friends were having half fry and bread for breakfast that day and I decided to take that as a subject. Easy to make after all. And the ingredients are easily available.

Step 2 : Look at reference pictures

Like, obviously. Generally that’s my first approach. Unless you imagined a frame in your mind while daydreaming about food porn and have to have to shoot it. (I do that, sometimes.)

Step 3 :  Look around for available props

So I take a stroll through the house and decide that I have a fork and a pan to go with the egg. Well, that’s something.

And then I spotted this table that i used to put my props on. It was a plasticky thing, with fake wooden print on it. But since it was my best option; I took it.

Step 4: Look at the recipe and grab hold of the ingredients

Ingredients are very important to fill up compositions and help viewers to visualise the recipe. I picked up some coriander, garlic, pepper and bread from a nearby store.

Sunny Side Up
Use ingredients as props to explain a recipe. Tell a story.

Step 5 : Compose your shot

Take your time, look at your subject and decide how you would like to show it. I decided for a top shot since the half fry was flat and there wasn’t much to add dimensions. Also, I like to play with graphic designs and a top shot is a great idea for that. Make changes after one composition is done with, soot multiple frames.

Step 6 : Set up your lights

I prefer to shoot in natural light, though use external light sources when required. It was a dark cloudy day and the light wasn’t so good at all. So I used video LED lights that were just lying around thanks to the video work we do. These LED light sources are great with matte boxes and filters and stuff. They run on batteries, are light and easy to operate and give nice looking soft light. The one I used was Yongnuo YN-300 LED Video Light.

Step 7 : Shoot, Review, Improvise

Before adding the second light source, I tried using a white,silver and gold reflector and it wasn’t enough. I decided I hate gold reflector for food. It makes the food look yellow and stale. I like white/silver but it wasn’t enough. So then I added a second LED light.

Step 8 : Backup you data. Pack up your stuff.

General photography rule to follow. Data is sacred. Data is holy. Don’t lose it. DONT.

And then pack-up time!! 😀


This is how, I did my first food shoot. I hope you find it helpful and please, if you have any suggestions, I would LOVE to hear it from you.

And as always, Thanks for reading. (I am watching Vsauce videos side-by-side, so 😛 )

PS – Vsauce. He’s amazing. If you already don’t know. Check him out if you like to learn about random things XD