Since their invention about one hundred years ago, the movies have been a vehicle of dreams for millions of people in successive generations, all over the world. With its vivid larger-than-life images that marry artistry with technical expertise, cinema is now recognized as an art form. It has also in its time, served as a powerful instrument of social and political comment as well as propaganda; of record and reportage on customs, lifestyles and events; and mainly-to account for its great universal popularity-of entertainment.
It is in fact, a composite craft, requiring the interplay of numerous separate skills. Its technology has seen tremendous development within this century, and is being continuously refined and expanded. Its versatility and potential as a medium of expression has always attracted the finest creative talent to its fold.
Almost every country has an indigenous film industry. The ubiquitous Hollywood productions from the US have perhaps the widest international audience. But of all film producing nations India is the most prolific with over 800 feature releases every year. The bulk of these come from the big studios in Bombay and Madras.
Regional cinema is also fairly active in each state, Bengal and Kerala being the best known countrywide for the quantity, quality and innovation of their films. The industry employs a relatively large number of women although there is no clear gender demarcation regarding jobs.
Still, besides the actresses and female playback singers essential to all productions, women have traditionally concentrated in departments such as make-up and hair styling; wardrobe and costume design; and choreography.
However, more female producers, directors, lyricists, editors and stuntwomen are beginning to make their presence felt. Other male dominated-mainly technical-areas like camera, sound, screenplay, lighting and special effects are also bound to follow suit in the near future.
Talent, assertiveness and a certain amount of financial savvy are the main requirements for getting ahead. It must be mentioned though, that young hopefuls everywhere are drawn to this line by the aura of glamour that surrounds the movies. The reality of filmmaking is quite the opposite.
At every level-even for superstars-the work involves long, grueling hours, sometimes in adverse weather, painstaking effort, repetitive, often monotonous tasks, and a great deal of standing by, waiting for a `call'.
As most jobs are undertaken freelance, it is also a very irregular occupation. Only those with a deep and abiding interest in and commitment to their craft are able to survive in this industry which hands out elation and heartbreak, failure and success, in approximately equal measure.
A number of different sectors operate independently within the film industry. These include:
Entertainment /Feature Films
This is an enormous sector in terms of turnover and employment. Most feature films are made by independent producers or studios, which raise the capital for their ventures through various sources, including private financiers and business corporations. The greater part of mainstream cinema, which sustains this sector, comprises big budget productions that depend for their commercial success on formula plots, lavish musical sequences and `bankable' stars.
A few smaller films, made by committed producers/directors with modest funding, have also gained recognition in India and abroad. Feature filmmaking has to some extent been affected by the advent of video. Copyright piracy has cut into distribution profits, while ironically enhancing the popularity of the movies and their stars.
However, the entertainment sector is thriving, and will continue to do so, as long as the romance of the cinema is alive.
These are smaller, both in length and budget and are basically devices to record and disseminate information. Documentaries and short films are mainly non-fictional in content, and can be on any subject, from the biography of an eminent person, to the environment or the study of a sociological or political situation. Growing information consciousness and the expansion of television networks
through satellite and cable services have greatly enlarged the market for these films.
Newsreels are journalistic coverage of events on film. Video, being less expensive and more convenient, has almost completely replaced this form of filmmaking. Its only scope now is probably with government departments connected with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
These films are used by companies/organizations, to inform clients, collaborators, associates, the public, or sometimes their own employees about their overall activities or aspects of their operations. Some production companies specialize in this type of filmmaking, for which there is an expanding demand.
Though seldom longer than thirty seconds in duration, ad films are often made on substantial budgets. Their purpose is to promote a product or service that is being advertised. They are usually produced or commissioned by advertising agencies.
These are teaching aids, used by educational and training institutions. This is a specialist area, the scope of which is growing steadily with the increasing employment of audio visual aids in education.
Public Interest Communications
Government and non-government welfare organizations commission the production of films on aspects of health, safety and other matters of public concern. A large number of these public interest films are made and exhibited for general viewing every year.
Many related manufacturing and services sectors also feed the film industry. Some of these are:
RAW FILM MANUFACTURE
Concerned with the production of film stock.
Laboratories where film is developed for screening.
Companies that are involved in networking finished films to cinema halls around the country and also their publicity and promotion.
Requires liaising with distributors abroad, regarding the buying and selling of films.
The film industry interacts with various government departments that facilitate and control productions in different ways. These departments include:
THE NATIONAL FILM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
An autonomous body set up to encourage the production of quality films in India, provides partial funding for some film projects and aids their promotion, sale, distribution and export. It is also involved in the selection, import and distribution of a proportion of foreign films screened within
BOARD OF FILM CERTIFICATION
Reviews and attests all films before they can be exhibited for public viewing, to ensure that their content is not inflammatory or prejudicial and meets with the required norms of decency and good taste.
An organ of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting produces government-sponsored newsreels, documentaries and public interest films that are screened compulsorily before the main programme in all public cinema halls.
THE DIRECTORATE OF FILM FESTIVALS
Organizes national and international film festivals, bazaars and other promotional events to encourage production, marketing and viewing of cinema.
NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVES
Acquires, documents and maintains records on and copies of all films produced in India, with the aim of preserving them for posterity.