Most teenagers dream about a job where they get to travel the world and also be paid to do it. Bollywood may have glorified travelling and making a 'travel show host' or a 'cinematographer' as cool, but there is a lot more that goes behind the fancy things that are visible to people on screen and seem like a lot of fun... Tejash Savjani speaks to ADC about working as the Assistant Cinematographer for Travel XP, one of the leading travel channels in the country, the perks of the job and the difficulties he has faced...
I have done my Bachelors in Mass Media from Mumbai University, and have comlpeted my diploma in animation from MAAC. In 2014, I joined Travel XP as a graphic designer and worked for about one year. Photography had always been my passion and therefore, one day I decided to ask my seniors to give me a chance at Cinematography. They were kind enough to let me explore my interest, and therefore I reached where I am today.
In field with the camera, the job of an Assistant Cinematographer is quite difficult. While most people think it is all glamorous, it is not. You are the one who carries the necessary equipment, setting lights, sound, camera and everything else. Sometimes, if the senior cinematographer is not available to shoot, you have to handle the entire shoot on your own, a task which can be very daunting at first.
What most people do not think is that after a day's shoot, it is the assistant's job to transfer the footage shot into a hard disk, take back ups, plan and arrange for the next day's shoot. It was quite tedious for me in the beginning, as after a long day's shoot, the work was only half done.
The feeling of travelling about four countries in about six months' time is hard to put into words. While there is a myth that travelling and shooting is all fun, but reaching here was a task for me.
The restlessness I felt in my desk job was so much that I had to take a decision. But, like I said that my seniors were generous enough, I began my cinematography work in December 2015.
When on the job there are major struggles like getting permissions for the kind of shooting you need to do, and being on your toes at all times, as the rest required is not as much as people think there is.
The show is not scripted and there are no fixed set ups. There's the tough and unpredictable weather in some places, and perhaps a million retakes if we are in a populated area during festive occasions. Language problems also make our work slow. Sometimes there are permission issues. At times your lights or cameras stop working during harsh weather, creating more challenges than we already are dealing with. It's never a smooth ride, but the experience is definitely worth it in the end. To cope with such things, I think it is important to have a mentor in the field, and mine was my teacher Nadeem Khan, who is a renowned Bollywood cinematographer, and it is his teaching that has made me go places.
My plan next is to just go with the flow as in the end, pursuing my interest in being a successful photographer is much more important to me than anything else. Although I would advise younger kids to know what they want out of their life. Only going by what is shown on TV is not enough to know the kind of challenges that await you, in any profession or career.