ISLAMABAD: Perhaps the only institution in Pakistan striving to polish skills of young aspiring film makers would be The South Asian Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Television (SAAMPT), the only film school in the country.
Well-known in Karachi, it held an open house at Gallery 6 on Sunday.
The aim of the session was to provide an opportunity to the prospective students interested in film making, their parents and other professionals to meet with the faculty of SAAMPT and learn about academic offerings, international linkages and foreign study trips. One-on-one counselling was also available.
Danial Ali Khan, the dean of the institute, was present at the gallery to run introductory documentaries of the institute that provide an insight to the workings of the place and a brief introduction to the aims and affiliations as well.
SAAMPT was launched in February 2010, and with its successful completion of first and second semester, students graduating from SAAMPT hope to be an invaluable addition to the film and television industry in Pakistan. SAAMPT is also offering an intensive 8-week filmmaking workshop and a 6-week short course with William Gilcher, who completed his doctorate in Film Studies from University of Iowa in the US. Gilcher is SAAMPT adviser and a faculty member.
Although the turn up at the session was low, those present did voice a few concerns regarding the film industry and the way forward. One man, who owns a production house in Islamabad, said that although Islamabad holds a lot of talent, the lack of platform drives them towards mediocrity.
“People don’t even know the difference between a producer and a director, [and in such a case] the end product becomes very mechanical,” he said.
Danial concurred, saying the academy had gotten just two students from Islamabad — one of whom dropped out — in the three years that it has been operating. “We have a 50 to 60% drop-out rate. Students come in thinking its going to be a piece of cake but it isn’t, its really hard work with high standards, and there’s a lot of theory as well. By the end of it the really passionate ones remain.”
While most people at the open house agreed that there needs to be a similar institute in Islamabad, for now, people interested in formally learning the science of filmmaking will have to make time and money to go to Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.
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