Equipped with the latest film-making apparatus, and comprising a qualified faculty, the South Asian Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Television (SAAMPT) is all set to start working as the country’s first Film School.
The academy, that would only offer film and electronic media related courses, has announced to offer a one-year program in Digital or Documentary Film-making, and a two-year advanced program in Directing for Camera or Cinematography. It would also offer short courses in broadcast journalism, black and white photography, and film appreciation.
SAAMPT management claims to provide comprehensive and extensive hands on training to its students.“I have been to a film school and I always wanted to open one in Pakistan and that is the only reason I came back to Pakistan,” the dean of the academy, Daniyal Ali Khan said on the occasion of the open house session for admissions. The open house was attended by a number of students and industry professionals who appreciated the effort.
“There is a lot of scope for film-making in Pakistan and it is a ground reality that the government would do nothing to promote film-making and individuals themselves need to come forward, And the lack of film school also adds to it
However, Daniyal said that becoming a successful film maker required lots of efforts. “One needs to have passion and patience,” he said. The dean said that the people who are recognized all over the world as great film makers had great knowledge of their field. They were intellectuals, philosophers and had command over literature, be it any cinema, Hollywood, Russian cinema or any other.
He said that film-making had always been a very academic profession and professionalism was what needed to be introduced in Pakistan. “That is the reason why we are only taking a limited amount of students. At SAAMPT we would enrol a student only after assessing their capability and interest towards becoming a film maker unlike other media schools where students are not properly interviewed before enrolment,” said Daniyal.
Students at SAAMPT would work with latest film-making tools such as Bolex H16 RX5, Arriflex IIC, 16SR, ARRI 435, HD and D 55 camera. The video edit lab is equipped with 10 work stations with Final Cut Pro, HD Apple, G5 computers, Intel Core 2 Quad, with NVIDIA GeForce 2 Graphic Card.
Moreover, unlike other film schools in Pakistan, SAAMPT claims to provide film processing and telecine (film to video transfer) in collaboration with International Studios Karachi, Telemedia Communications and Film Azia, Lahore. The academy would also facilitate and provide post services to its students who shoot on 16MM and 35MM film stocks, in both basic and advanced courses. Most important of all, SAAMPT would allow the students to use its studios and other equipment until after two years of completing their course from the academy.
“I think it is brilliant. It fulfils all the requirements of a proper film school. The equipment and infrastructure are perfect,” Jasir Abro, a final year student of film-making at another institute, said. He said that he would have started his film education at SAAMPT, had it come into existence then. “But I will definitely do some courses here,” Abro said.
“Nothing of this level has ever been done in the country. I was ready to go to Mets Film School in London, but now I am reconsidering my decision as I have similar facilities available at my door step,“ said Abdur Rehman, a student of national Academy of Performing Arts. He said that now no one needed to go out of Pakistan to pursue a career in film-making.
Moreover, SAAMPT management has already succeeded to affiliate the academy with many international institutions. In this regard, Azhra Maqsood, the Executive Director SAAMPT, said that Michael Rabiget, the former chairperson of Film and video Department of Columbia College Chicago, would visit the academy during his tours to film schools across Asia.
“Apart from that, SAAMPT is also associated with the New York Film Academy (NYFA), Dubai, and Raj Kapoor Films and Media Academy of India,” Ms Maqsood said. She added that such affiliations meant that there would be student exchange programs as well.
“SAAMPT has plans to approach the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for its recognition. After the academy is recognized by the HEC, we would offer a four year bachelor program in fine arts,” she said.
Moreover, the faculty of the film academy is keen to give foreign exposure to its students, and apart from student exchange programs, the professionals from other countries would also visit the academy to share their experiences with the SAAMPT students.
In this regard, Daniyal said that they would request cinematographers and directors from countries such as Spain, USA and Iran to visit Pakistan and teach their students. “This will be a regular feature of the academic year at SAAMPT,” he said.