Meet the School of Communication and Creative Arts
Today we speak with Vikrant Kishore: Course Director for the Bachelor of Film, Television and Animation course. Vikrant speaks to us about his teaching and research, his own creative practice and the influencers on his career.
What do you teach at Deakin?
Vikrant: Currently, I am the Course Director for the undergraduate Film, Television and Animation course. My broad teaching areas are film, documentary, cinematography, post-production, media production for online platforms, and Asian and Indian cinema.
How would you describe your creative practice?
Vikrant: As a creative practitioner (filmmaker, photographer, journalist) and a researcher, my focus areas are Indian and Asian Cinema, Intangible Cultural heritage (performing arts), folk and popular culture, reality television programs, factual web-series (cultural diversity and inclusion, stories of diaspora and belonging), caste politics, and race issues. My research outputs include traditional (books/edited books, articles, book chapters) and non-traditional outputs, such as video (documentaries, short films, music videos), web-series, curation of film festivals, and multi-media exhibition. I aim to question, observe, and capture stories of cultural flows and its impact on current practices, and future sustenance. I like to integrate traditional cultural practices with new media technologies to archive, create digital exposition, collaborate on multi-media media exhibitions and festivals.
Who has been your biggest influence on your career to date?
Vikrant: I am quite influenced by the social and political ideology of noted Indian leader, scholar, and social reformer B R Ambedkar. His work for the downtrodden and women, especially for political rights and social freedom has always inspired me. In the field of culture, I am influenced and motivated by the works of Jean Roche, and my parents Vijoy and Mira Kishore, who dedicated their life for the protection and promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. My teaching is driven by the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda, for whom, “knowledge not alone is the factor for individual good; moral strength, physical strength, and character are equally important to any system of education”. Their philosophy and work have enthused me to hone my skills not only in terms of learning but instilling positive values and being open to engage with people from all walks of life and be able to accept criticism and comments and to reflect on these issues to learn from them and possibly make things better.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in life?
Vikrant: Well, that moment has not yet come, I am still working towards it! As of now, I would say, the short film series on “Intangible Cultural Heritage” for the international folklore festival of Gannat, France, a three part-film on Purulia Chhau dance, and a web-series on Australian-Indians– “It’s My Desi Life”, are some of the recent works that I am proud of. Also, working continuously for the protection, promotion, and safeguard of the Purulia Chhau dance culture (through films, community, and industry outreach) is something that I take pride in!
What has been your favourite Deakin experience?
Vikrant: My favourite Deakin experience is to work collaboratively with students to make various creative projects. My documentary unit students have been making interesting short documentaries based on the theme of “Change”, which are well planned, designed and produced. These short films have been received quite well, some of them have got media coverage and have also been accepted for film festivals.
How would you describe the Deakin learning experience for students?
Vikrant: The Deakin learning experience help students to develop critical thinking, enhance discipline-specific knowledge, build and develop effective communication, be creative, innovative, open-minded, reflective, motivated, engaged, and overall, a good problem solver. The focus is also on self-management, team-work, and on becoming a global citizen, “based on understanding the ‘self’ in relation to ‘others’ within the local and broader community and discipline”. Students should also utilise learning experiences both on campus and out of campus, such as extra-curricular activities, community involvement, casual work, and internships.
What is your best advice for someone looking to enter a creative career?
Vikrant: Be an active learner, keep an entrepreneurial attitude, develop multi-skills, and ability to undertake multiple tasks. Be an active and constructive team player, and a passionate, trustworthy and empathetic team leader. One should have resilience and adaptability, and an attitude to collaborate and network!
What is it like teaching and studying your discipline online?
Vikrant: This is the first time that we have moved entirely to online teaching utilising online tools such as Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate, which have turned out to be very effective. The online delivery of the unit requires a lot of planning and restructuring. The challenge remains regarding practical teaching and access to video equipment, but with the focus on aspects of storytelling, elucidating nuances of the process of film, TV and animation production, documentation for pre-production, production, and post-production, planning for the online distribution and finally getting the students to work on creative projects utilising, smartphones or digital cameras; also mining through the archival footages to tell a story has been quite successful. By providing support and access to post-production software on students’ personal computers/laptops, including editing and recording apps on smartphones, we have been able to successfully continue value-added learning for the students. Video recorded lectures, training modules, specialist guest lectures, online breakout sessions for students to discuss their projects, and for lecturers to be able to have a group and one-on-one meetings via video conferencing has helped them take on teaching and training tasks effectively. Technical staff members are actively joining in these online classroom sessions to provide support and suggestions regarding video gear and software usage, which has been very useful for the students. In addition, the online library of the University provides access to millions of books and other resources to students, including online streaming sites such as Kanopy free of cost. Thus, students can watch recommended documentaries, films, video tutorials at home. This is an ongoing process, and we are learning more and more regarding how to best offer and facilitate online teaching. Nevertheless, with all the challenges that the shift to online teaching has posed, the first trimester of online delivery has given us a certain confidence that we can work through most of the Film, TV and Animation course online.