In conversation with Meghna Ghai Puri, President, Whistling Woods International, who spoke about the creative initiative taken by the school and about visual communication.
Whistling Woods International is growing beyond the helm of a popular film making school in India and is all set to become a creative university in the country and across the globe. Well known for its quality education of film making in India, the school has designed specialization programmes in film making, animation, acting, media and communication, music and fashion among others. These courses are segmented over two years ofdiploma and one year foundation (degree) accordingly. The school has also tied-up with 30-40 plus international film schools offering film making courses while keeping up with the trends in the education of film making worldwide.Thus,talking about its courses, wide range of programmes and about school of design and visual communicationMeghna Ghai Puri, President, Whistling Woods International spoke to Educationbiz.com while adding that education of film making is booming in India.
What is the philosophy behind Whistling Woods?
Our philosophy is to be connected with the film industry. It is based on art, technology and business. We make sure that our curriculum is emphasizing on hands on training and practicality on latest technology. In a business sense one of our focuses is to teach students to make the kind of films that they want, but they should make it in the budget, so they can recover the money. We believe very strongly that every technician needs to be an artist first. Our philosophy is inculcated in the pedagogy of the curriculum. There are many film schools in India secluded from real world.
With this film school what is the kind of gap that you are bridging?
The school is started by the industry and for the industry. We found that there are so many opportunities, so much potential to train different kinds of people and there are jobs, but no trained talent. Then we started different schools which would actually feed into the different job requirement in the film industry. We have started school (programme) of film making, school of animation, actors’ studio and school of media and communication which deals with management and business side of events. Also we have school of music, school of fashion, virtual academy, short course unit, school of VFX, vocational education and finally we are launching school of design and visual communication. In any industry for students job experience is very important.
What all courses have you introduced?
We offer specialization courses in film making, acting, script writing, directions, cinematography, producing, journalism and digital media. We also offer special courses in content making for digital media. We are second in the country to run a producing course. As our film industry is very dynamic in nature with changing technology our curriculum also keeps changing.
We offer two years full time diploma programme and one year foundation (degree) course. Each school has the same pattern. Diploma students are slight mature of 21-22 old students and degree students are 18 year olds, so we deal with them differently and expose them in a different way. The total cost of these courses starts from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.
How do you groom your students?
We put lot of emphasis on one-on-one mentoring for our students which leads to guidance. Every student is unique and would like to make his own cinema. We have up to 100 in-house faculties and 50-60 visiting faculties. Also every week we have three master classes where industry experts come and talk to the students. In the last 10 years we had over thousand master classes addressed by Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar or Anurag Kashyap everybody in the industry. We not only groom students but also make them socially responsible citizens.
What is the placement ratio with all the programmes?
Can’t guarantee 100 percent, but so far our schools get 100 percent placements. In Film and School of Media and Communications all students get placement before completing the graduation. We also have about 1500 alumni working in the industry.
Please tell us about the school of design and visual communication programme?
We are starting with school of design in the current month. The unique thing about the design programme is its communication design. Every object around us communicates with us. Design is in our everyday life and I feel that communication is one of the important parts that we were missing, so we have introduced school of design and visual communication. I feel in India we lack with number of schools teaching it, hence there is a huge potential for this kind of training. For this programme we have tied up with the ECV which is one of the best and oldest design schools of Europe. Faculty from ECV will be regularly teaching and interacting with our students and faculty.
There will just be 1 degree course and initially we are starting with a small batch of 30 students. Our total enrolment capacity is of 1000 students.
Do you offer scholarships to the students?
There are two types of scholarships that we offer to our students, one is that the student can apply for scholarship and we consider it depending on the application. And second one is we also scout for students and talents. We have 5-6 kids from underprivileged background whom we have offered scholarship and today they are on the way to become cinematographers and editors. During the courses also we support students depending on their attendance and behavior.
How do you keep up with the trends in the education of film making worldwide?
We have many international faculties coming in also we have huge amount of faculties contacting us. We have over 30-40 plus affiliations with international film schools offering film making courses. We also send our students abroad for a lot of co-production work so that they know well how to work with International schools.
What are your expansion plans?
We want to expand, may be in the different cities and within Mumbai. We would like to focus on Mumbai campus. In future I see Whistling Woods on a world platform. It will not be only known as film school, but also a creative university.
According to you what would be the future of education of film making in India?
The education of film making is booming in India. European film industry is not doing well; Hollywood is struggling in line with every other film industry in the world. India is the only bright spot which is keeping itself alive. Faculty and film makers from around the world want to come here, teach and research about Indian film Industry.