As a career choice, filmmaking is a very rewarding one. It is also very rewarding for those who become successful. However, for aspiring filmmakers, there is not enough information out there - how to start, where to start from or how to sharpen skills etc.
Anyone can have a degree in filmmaking, but to actually succeed you need to hone those necessary skills yourself.
The Business Standard interviewed three successful commercial directors of the country and revealed a common thread they followed to be where they are.
All three suggested reading plenty of books on filmmaking, watching films and learning from others' works before delving into the world of filmmaking.
Shankha Das Gupta, Director of Filmy Features
Shankha Das Gupta, the director of super hits like 'Boli' and 'Closeup Kache Ashar Golpo' and countless other awe-striking television commercials, is a prominent name in media. He has been working in the same industry for more than a decade.
However, he switched to filmmaking from journalism. After working at prominent newspapers for years, he decided to share stories in a different way, visually. So he started making documentaries and dramas, which were self-funded.
Shankha read many books and watched many movies to learn and grow as a filmmaker. He mentioned the book 'How to read a film' by James Monaco as one of his favourites. He also enrolled himself in many MasterClass online classes.
Initially, none of his projects were successful. But as Shankha believes, he gathered plenty of experience through these failures.
In 2012, he directed his debut film titled 'Hello Amit'. "Even though the movie was not released due to some complications from the producer's end, I knew it was an honest effort from a filmmaker who was just 25 at that time," he stated.
In 2013, he started his own production house called 'Filmy Feature' and he has not looked back since. Till date, Filmy Feature has produced around 300 TV and online commercials.
Looking back, Shankha strongly believes all those failures during the early stage of his career were blessings in disguise.
"Direction is a form of leadership and creation of art. To pursue this profession, it is indispensable we nurture the adventurous part of ourselves. We should experience our society and culture closely and make a story out of it," he concluded.
Subrina Irine, Director of Runout
Subrina Irine, an alumnus of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, is a zealot of art and creation, by education, profession and intuition.
She started her career as a costume designer and worked closely with Amitabh Reza, one of the leading filmmakers in the country.
One day, he suggested she start assisting him. Her knowledge of filmmaking began under his tutelage.
As she was a student of fine arts, technical things such as colour composition and framing came somewhat naturally to her. Her inspirations in filmmaking also include Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and Abbas Kiarostami.
After a brief period of working under Amitabh Reza, she made her debut commercial in 2017. She single-handedly directed a TVC for Huawei.
Since then, she has not stopped in her inspiring journey. She is the first female director in the country who has persisted in this profession in the long run. Till now, she has directed around 200 commercials.
For those looking to become filmmakers, her suggestion is to observe closely and sharpen leadership skills. "You also need to have a knack for storytelling and learning from everything around you," she added.
"I started my career from scratch. I had zero links in the media whatsoever," said Subrina, adding, "it is important that we believe in ourselves. Otherwise, no one else will."
Mahathir Spondon, Director of The Big Content Ltd
In an industry saturated with conventional commercials with a negligible storyline, Mahathir Spondon thrives to make impact-driven, powerful online commercials.
Mahathir believes he was born a storyteller. His career started off as a graphics designer at Unmad magazine.
After working a few years as a copywriter, he decided to become a director. He started making documentaries and dramas with his own money. These were not very successful to begin with but enriched his portfolio all the same.
When he was working at Bitopi, one of the leading creative agencies in the country, his job responsibilities included visiting shoot sets to monitor the work.
"Through this job, I could practically see the work of top-tier directors of our country. I was inspired and encouraged," said Mahathir.
In 2017, he took a leap of faith, quit his job, and formed his own production house named Cine-Mistry to tell stories through commercials.
Eventually he created The Big Content Ltd, the country's first-ever impact-driven creative agency, and started making powerful commercials with impactful stories.
"It is important that whatever a director creates, has a story in it. It is important we read plenty of books and see a great deal of movies if we want to create something big," said Mahathir.
Among the books he learned filmmaking from, there were Filmmaking for Dummies by Bryan Michael Stoller, Making Movies by Sidney Lumet and Rebel without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez.
Mahathir firmly believes the problem with the new filmmakers coming into this industry is they take role models way too seriously and try to follow their styles, sacrificing their own creative selves.
"In a creative profession like filmmaking, it is essential to believe in yourself and work in your own style," he suggested.