Kathmandu Post


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Lights, camera, action

KATHMANDU, DEC 11 - The history of filmmaking in Nepal might not have been as extensive as that of other countries, but films are certainly enjoyed by most here. And with multiplexes propping up around the city, and with themed film festivals having become common fare during the year, the medium is certainly seeing more interest today than ever before. The local scene itself is seeing a makeover with the entry of a new breed of professionals—directors, actors and writers—who seem intent on leaving behind the clichéd action-romance stories seen in mainstream Nepali films and forging a path into yet unexplored territory. Given these exciting new developments, it is only natural that academic accreditation for filmmaking has seen more emphasis in recent years, with film institutes and schools rising up to capitalise on the new wave, in a bid to have as big a hand as possible in the creation of new Nepali cinema.

Besides its artistic elements, filmmaking is also largely a technical subject, and for those who are looking to really acquaint themselves with all of the medium’s potential, a lot of time and effort must be invested into studying and training. A bachelor’s degree in filmmaking at the College of Film Industries in Sano Gaucharan, or Oscar International College in Jayabhageshwari, for instance, can take a minimum of three years. The objective of these courses is ultimately to produce global-quality professionals who will be able to take the Nepali film industry forward. Students are taught all the basics, whether to do with acting, directing, editing and sound, allowing them to take a peek at the various aspects that are involved in creating a film, and to pick what they feel they have an aptitude for.

Evidence of how effective these film courses have been can be found in a number of prominent names in the industry who credit their success to what they learned as part of their filmmaking curriculum. Nischal Basnet, director of the wildly popular Loot, is one such person. A third year student at Oscar College, Nischal remembers how different things were when he first took up the course in 2009. “I think film as an academic discipline was still a bit rusty back then,” he says. “There were a lot of management issues at Oscar, and the techniques they were teaching us seemed very outdated, which is pointless when you’re involved in a medium that requires you to keep up with the latest advancements in technology around the world.” Since then, Basnet says the college has acquired younger instructors, which has brought in a breath of fresh air into the course, although the improvements have been gradual.

Documentary-making is another option that has proved immensely popular with students of late, allowing them to dig deep into issues—whether social, political or environmental—that are affecting the country, and bring these stories to the masses. Of course, the market for documentaries is still rather dismal, so apart from festivals dedicated to the same, documentary makers often share videos through social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, not only getting more people to see their work but also bringing them in contact with contemporaries. “These sites are useful if you have a message to put out, because it’s extremely difficult to come across financial backing in Nepal if you’re a young director,” says Kshitiz Shrestha, a media student at the Kathmandu University, who has worked on about eight indie films so far. “Most people don’t want to risk their money on young, new directors, so you really have to wait for a break.”

Shail Shrestha is another media student who has made prolific ventures into films—short films—both as director and cinematographer. Shrestha’s scripts revolve around sexual psychology, stories of the civil war as well as animated features. “I think it’s important, if you’re a filmmaker working with social issues, not just to aspire to commercial success, but to ensure that your work has as big an audience as possible,” he says. “And I think that should really include people beyond your urban areas, where awareness is much more vital.”

It becomes obvious through conversations with these young film-lovers that opportunities for learning, making and sharing one’s work have become increasingly available in recent times, and aspiring professionals should make the most of this. In the words of Rajat Kattel, who has done a number of concert videos and short films, and is now working on his first feature film, Mokshya: “It’s all about confidence; keep watching more films, and just go out and start filming and see where that takes you. That’s the only way you’ll grow at whatever you do.”

Posted on: 2012-12-12 08:42

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