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.

What Went Wrong : Cheesecakes and Tragedy

Have you ever had a frame in mind, or felt like shooting something, felt inspired and excited and then mess it up in the end? I find it happens to me a lot. So this time, I want to figure out and write about ‘What Went Wrong’ publicly, so that I remember these things in the future and help other people prevent a messed up shoot plan.


I had decided to shoot rum balls this week. I had it planned, thought of a frame, and every other thing. Except that it didn’t happen as I planned at all. Here are my WWW or What Went Wrong points for you all.

I went out to buy them and well, I don’t know why, but I ended up buying a couple of pieces of Philadelphia Cheesecakes. 😮 😐

I’m not saying that doing shoots on the fly or just setting up a spontaneous shoot is bad, my first two shoots themselves were so. But sometimes it helps to have a plan as well. Anyways, I didn’t feel all the way negative about it and decided to shoot. I was too excited to shoot and did not look at many reference pictures or research more closely.

WWW : No planning and getting tempted by beautiful looking foods before researching about them. RESEARCH is VERY important.

I had given my camera to a friend for a shoot and was left with a 50D at home. Now I had a frame in my mind; a top shot that would play on the graphics and shapes of circular plates, triangle pastry and straight spoons. I set up my utensils and lights and was setting up my tripod when I realised that the camera didn’t have a flippy screen and I couldn’t see the frame! I tethered the camera to my laptop and was working on it, but by that time the frame had left my space and my mind wasn’t on it.

WWW : Not knowing your equipment before the shoot. Look at what you have and set up accordingly.

I set up a new composition, I thought of experimenting with wide angle lenses and was pretty ok with the effect. I brought in the food, set it and was on the job , but my energy and mood had drained off by then because of little problems here and there. I got frustrated and didn’t pay as much attention as I should have. Still, I kept on shooting.

When I viewed the photos properly at last, I found out that the end of the font pie was out of focus, the composition not so strong and the shot was a waste! 😦

WWW : Getting frustrated by small errors and problems. You should be flexible with your approach and try to find out a solution.

The point above is easy to say, but sometimes, especially when you’re really excited about shooting something, you do get a little frustrated if things don’t work out. Well, that is the time you should stop shooting and relax. Go, have water, take a stroll, talk about something else and come back with a fresh mind. It might help. If it does not, then pack up and plan a reshoot for another day.

Even though the shoot went the way down, I’m sharing the final photograph just so you know what was going on in my mind. It even might give someone an idea/inspiration 😛

The wide angle gave me a nice perspective, but the composition and focus were a bummer :|
The wide angle gave me a nice perspective, but the composition and focus were a bummer 😐
A little closer, a little better.
A little closer, a little better.

I hope you guys found this informative and helpful. If you have ever had a big mess-up before/ during or after a shoot, share your experiences with me in the comments below. Someone might benefit from it 🙂