Dr. T. CHINNARAJ JOSEPH JAIKUMAR

Founder Director

The founding of the Madurai Media and Film Studies Academy (MMFSA) is an outcome of more than ten years of my dreaming and experimenting.

For long, media and communication studies remained as the privilege of the metropolitan cities like Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. The easy excuse was the physical proximity of academic institutions to film and advertisement industries. Though considerable talent for the film/media industry came from the rural hinterland and small towns, certain defensive mindset kept many academic institutions of second-tier cities like Madurai, not to risk with anything like film or media studies. However, American College broke this tradition by starting B.Sc. Visual Communication in 2007 under autonomy curriculum when I was its Principal and Secretary. My lifelong interest in film and media studies coupled with my privileged academic position helped me to watch from very close quarters in the next three or four years, how the curriculum, pedagogy and academy-industry interface of media education worked in colleges.

founderchinnaraj

There were three important lessons to be learnt. First, film and visual communication studies like any other professional education, demand certain ambience and ethos that could better come from specialized institutions exclusively dedicated to that purpose. Secondly, it calls for a core faculty who, beyond possessing academic qualifications, must possess practioners’ experience or exposure to industry. Thirdly but most importantly, there needs to be a perfect balance between technical training on one hand and understanding of film history, aesthetics and film theory on the other hand. The neglect of the latter has made poor caricatures of filmmaking courses as ‘technician’s training.’

The real strength for action for me came, when I started making my first feature length documentary film. This gave me two years of intense interactions with young college educated film aspirants, amateurs and industry-trained technicians with whom I had to work. This experience, once again strengthened my conviction that professional filmmaking, greatly benefits from academy based training. At this point, I sought the help of my friends, from both the industry and academy, for the final counsel. No wonder they not only did encourage me but also stood by me. The academy became a reality.

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