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I was enrolled in the 1-year Direction certificate course in the TV wing in the session 2018-19. Following are the pros and cons that I observed/experienced:
1. Huge and Active Alumni Network.
FTII alumni are everywhere, from all the film industries to advertising, to documentary films, to government film organizations. It is often extremely easy to connect to them too. The departments often call them over for workshops and sessions. I had the privilege to attend an Acting session by Vinay Pathak, Directing ground realities by Abhishek Chaubey, Screenplay writing by Kiran Yadnyopavit, Non-Fiction Films by Sankalp Meshram, Documentary filmmaking by Jasmine Kaur and Avinash Roy, Dialogue writing by Manasvi Sharma, Camera Lensing by Tribhuvan Babu, all in the span of a year. And apart from these, so many of them are just often visiting/hanging out at the campus.
2. NFAI in close proximity, Daily Screenings.
At FTII, daily screenings are a ritual. You don't miss it. Nobody misses it. National Film Archive of India happens to be at a stone's throw from the campus and almost half of the screenings happen there, the other half at the Main theatre on the campus. Films range from Satyajit Ray's classics to contemporary indie, to world classics, to French new wave, to week-long Asian cinema screenings, to Indian regional gems, to Irani cinema followed by long discussions, and documentaries that at times end up brewing political trouble.
Oh and FTII lot takes screenings very seriously, no phones, no murmurs, no food inside the theatre. You'll be asked to leave if you don't abide by the rules.
3. Award-winning films and filmmakers.
Nearly every year FTII films win at the National Film Awards, get shown at numerous international film festivals, and Cannes' student film winner this year, in 2020 is an FTII production called CatDog.
4. Extremely affordable.
For an Indian national, you pay INR 1.5 lacs, which frankly, is peanuts as compared to other film schools in the country. The amount covers your tuition fee and hostel fee. For foreign nationals, the price is higher but still remains on the lower end when compared to other CILECT film schools. Technically your projects are also financed from the same amount.
You live in the cultural capital of Maharashtra, in the greenest and one of the most beautiful parts of the city. The city itself happens to be an education hub, so hope to meet people from almost all states, if not also countries. Extremely safe, quite cheap to live in too. A lot to explore in every way possible.
1. Slow, very slow.
FTII comes under the IB Ministry of the Government of India. Every purchase/change/decision has to be approved by the ministry before it is acted upon. Too much red tape to make sense of. A certain set of equipment requested by a certain batch was actually made available in the next year. Improper scheduling of course exercises often stretches them for months more than they were supposed to be.
2. Lack of a formal work/placement division
Because of the alumni network and the brand that FTII is, in the Indian film scenario, work is never impossible to find. It however can be very tough if you're not very good at marketing yourself. Lack of a formal hiring situation means that it's the word of mouth that gets or doesn't get you any work.
3. Interdepartmental issues.
A lot of issues between the TV and Film departments at administrative levels and often tangle things up.
4. Fitting in
You might feel out of place if you haven't mugged up every single detail about every single critically acclaimed film in the world and can't drop names. I did, so did a lot of other classmates who had grown up on a steady diet of commercial films. However, a lot of times, people are quite literally just dropping names, and know nothing. At others, the discussion will open the door to new films.
4/5, recommended if you get through, because hey, the intake is 10 per course, with a rigorous week-long orientation and interview session. However, if you're an Indian national, definitely explore the place, go talk to existing students, get an idea of how the place functions (also because it has a very set way of working and you either fit in or you don't), and then decide if it is the place for you or not. Explore your options at SRFTI too.