What are the different jobs in Films and television?

March 20, 2009 at 7:07 am Leave a comment

If you want to get into films and television, there are umpteen things you could do:

Actor: How many of you have dreamt of becoming the next Shah Rukh Khan or the next Rani Mukherjee? If you are one of them, then this is the place for you. An actor or actress has simultaneously the easiest and the toughest job in films and television. The easiest because there’s virtually no technical knowledge necessary there are people like the director to tell the actor what to do: move this way, stand like that, speak clearly, etc. On the other hand, though it may look easy when you’re watching a film, acting is incredibly tough, because altogether the actors shrug off their own personality and become someone else. While there are many methods of acting ( the one used most often is where the actor almost literally gets into the character’s skin by working out his personality, thinking like he would, behaving, like he would, speaking like he would, in every respect in accent and all, and soon, according to actor Rahul Bose),it all boils down to one thing: can the actor convincingly become someone else?

Director: A director is literally the captain of the ship. This involves a tremendous amount of visualization and imagination. Imagine a story that revolves around a family consisting of four people: a man,woman,teenage boy, and a teenage girl. The director has to say what each of these four characters is like, how they live, what their house looks like, what their offices are like, what their schools or colleges are like, what their friends are like, what their servants are like… every single character is given a personality by the director.”And these characters have to be worked out not only from the point they enter the film, but from way back, when they were born,” says Rahul Bose. After that, the director has to work with the actors to make sure they get into their characters’ skin. The director has to work with the cinematographer to create the ‘look’ of the film. After the film is shot, he has to work with the editors to keep the film on track and make sure his vision is finally reflected in the film the way he wants it to be. Some of the famous directors of India are Subhash Ghai,David Dhawan, and the new emerging ones are Karan Johar Ashutosh Gowarikar, Farhan Akhtar. Speaking for the film-makers, New York-based director Mira Nair aid: “Exciting new voices have emerged in the last few years. Their budding success speaks as to where we are today, how we look at the world around us, and the roads we are taking.”

A few other aspects of Films and Television:

The producer: Is the person behind the scenes; putting together a television show involves a thousand details. From the script to the actors, from the costumes to the lighting, from the sound to the props,who has final responsibility? ‘He’ does. He’s the producer. Television producers are responsible for each and every phase of a programme, from the original idea to the final product. There are two kinds of producers. The first is involved solely in finance. They’ll sit with the director and work out a budget and hand over the cash. The other kind of producer is what’s known as an executive producer. He’ll be on the set while shooting is on, makes sure every thing that’s necessary for the shot is available, handles all the people involved in making the film (or television serial) and makes sure everything is organized to the last detail and that the film or serial is not over budget.

Casting Director:This is the person who’s in constant touch with artists of different calibers and styles. He’ll arrange auditions and camera tests, workout fees and dates, and, in the case of extras, schedules. He, therefore, must have a huge database of actors of all types that he can draw on for a film. So, if you want to cast Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan in your next film, you know whom to contact.

Lights Technician: The lighting guy makes sure there’s enough light for the camera to pick up movements clearly, or not so bright that it reflects off the camera lens. The responsibility is a great one, particularly because you have to know and understand the quality of light. All this is important to a film, because the film needs to be as realistic as possible. If there’s poor light outside and yet the scene demands a bright sunny morning, the light technician will set up his equipment in such a way that what you see in the final film will be a bright sunny morning.

Scriptwriter: The script writer is the person who has actually written out the story that will be made into a film or a serial episode. This involves creating the characters, creating the plot, writing the dialogues, and soon. He also has to be some thing of a visualizer because he has to see where the story is going and how it must get there. He could even adapt a favorite book for the screen. Writing screenplays is one of the highest paying jobs a writer can do. In the 1990s, Joe Esterhaus made headlines when he earned $3 million for writing screenplay for Basic Instinct.

Sound Technician: The sound guy is a very technical person. It’s his job to make sure that there are no outside sounds interfering when a film is being shot, that dialogue and music is picked up clearly by the mikes, and soon. He can stop the shooting when the sound goes bad. For instance, if there’s a plane flying over head during an out door shoot, he will hold up shooting till the plane has vanished completely. That’s because his equipment is so sensitive that it will pick up even sounds that the human ear cannot hear.

Editor: Do you think the film that you see is the same how it is shot? If you do then you are mistaken. After a film or TV serial is shot and wrapped up, the editor takes over. He has to take the huge amount of film shot at various times and various places and, working with the director, cut it down to the required length, complete with commercial or interval breaks, in a cohesive manner, so that the story flows like it should. Since films are not shot on a continuous basis (the shooting of scene 1 is not necessarily followed by the shooting of scene2), it’s the editor’s job to make sure that the continuity is maintained (that scene 1 is definitely followed by scene 2). This can be difficult, because if scene 2 is shot at a different time, say at 3 p.m. while scene1 was shot at midnight, the editor has to use his skills to make sure the lighting stays consistent (so that scene 2 is not brighter than scene1). The editor also gets the graphics into the film (that’s the opening and closing credits, the titles, and so on).As someone who hasn’t been involved in its production, he’s in a position to see which scenes work and which don’t, where the film is losing focus, what needs to be cut out because it’s useless to the story, and so on. So, in a way, he becomes the second in command.

Cinematographer: Have you ogled at all those terrific locations that films usually show you? A brilliant view of America or the sunset or Aamir Khan dancing… well, the locations are beautiful but to show them just as they are or to capture them in a more beautiful way is the work of the camera man or what the industry has named him-the Cinematographer. The qualified cinematographer is greater than a mere cameraman. He knows and understands his equipment to such an extent that he’ll be able to tell the director what his cameras can achieve in making the vision of the film real. Basically, the cinematographer translates the director’s vision on a film. He works with the director to create scenes where his camera picks up long shots, close-ups, and so on, all of which contribute to the impact a scene can have on the audience. A lot of cinematographers have gone onto become directors.

Choreographer: Have you ever wanted to dance like Madhuri Dixit or dreamt about dancing like Hrithik Roshan on stage, moving your body to steps that are so amazing? Well, they don’t dance on their own- they have a person who teaches them those amazing steps that you always copy. A choreographer is required for the myriad songs that are necessary in Indian films. Typically, the choreographer will work with the director to understand the reason why

there’s a song at a certain point in a film (though the trend these days seems to be to scatter songs through out the film without any reference to the storyline). The choreographer should know and understand different kinds of dance genres from all over the world, and should have trained in dance. Some of the famous Indian film choreographers you might have heard about or maybe your idols too are Saroj Khan who choreographed the famous ‘Bhumro’ in ‘Mission Kashmir’, which was picturized on Preity Zinta. Then Farah Khan, who has choreographed the all famous ‘Chaiya Chaiya’ song from ‘Dil Se’, filmed on Shah Rukh Khan dancing on the train.

Costume Designer: A costume designer is necessary to the film or TV production because she/he understands how the characters should be dressed. For historical or period depictions, the designer has to do a great deal of research to find out how people at different levels of society were dressed at the time and create those costumes. For futuristic films,the costume designer has to figure out what kind of clothes people are likely to wear in 3005, for instance, and create those. For example, ‘Lagaan‘ had a costume designer who had to design clothes for the villagers set around the independence period.

Set Designer: The set designer, also known as the art director, is a very vital part of production because she/he is the person who creates the actual physical surroundings of the characters. If the scene is set in a slum, the set designer will have to make a slum, if it’s a fancy night club, the set designer will create a night club. When it comes to Indian films, you’ll find that a lot of sets are ready-made, particularly at large studios such as Mumbai’s Film City, where you stumble across temples,railway stations,log cabins,and soon, that you can hire and use (which may explain why certain scenes look so familiar in different films). These days, there are films where an entire set is designed and built to give the film the right feel. For example, the whole set for ‘Devdas’ was designed and built to give it that period feel of opulence.

Music Director: The music director works with the director to create the music for the film/television serial. This comprises not only music for songs, but also background music for various scenes in the film. Those amazing songs that you tap your feet to, sing along with the actors, some emotional, some wacky, some devotional, some romantic, expressing such emotions that it gives the movie a totally different feel. These days there are films like ‘Kaun’ and ‘Bhoot’, which work entirely due to its background score. Music has become an important aspect of television too. You have serials like ‘Kyunki Saans bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ having a set of songs in between the serial, and care has to be taken for the compositions of the title songs, as now they have become an important part of the serials itself. Music directors like Jatin-Lalit, Nadeem-Shravan, R.D. Burman, Anu Malik are some of them who have made this profession some thing to be reckoned with.

Fight Master/Stunt Director : The amazing stunts that Akshay Kumar performs, or Sunil Shetty’s ability to fight with so many people at a time is nothing but the efforts of the stunt director that have made it possible. The fight master or stunt director creates the fight scenes or stunts necessary. While a lot of stunts you see on screen are clearly masterpieces of editing, a lot are physically performed and the people doing them are directed by the fight master or stunt director. These days, stunts and fights are revolutionized by using special effects. ‘Matrix’ is a good example of this.


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