Compared to other industries, the Media and film industry in India has several small sized companies (say individuals, proprietors, freelancers) operating in the business. Its very common to see companies employ 10 to 20 people, and it would still be considered a good-sized company considering the nature of the business.
Those who get good work in the post-production area are likely to employ more people; same goes for ad agencies.
But its not that bigger-sized companies don’t exist, but those are comparatively very few in number, especially when you compare it to other sectors like IT, retail, Finance, and so on. Besides, its a cut-throat industry, and its very common to find people with compromised work ethics.
So if you have a good job in a production house/ad agency and intend to switch to another job with a smaller company, you have to do your homework before you make the switch. The better pay, role or working environment that you were promised could quickly disappear in thin air.
Here’s one real example, the real names of the companies have been withheld for obvious reasons.
Grass is Greener…
“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush…”
Shekhar was working as a production executive in a reputed production house in Bangalore. But he was a musician, and wanted to get into making jingles, composing and so on. Shekhar had completed his graduation from a media college, and had spent a good amount of money doing a sound engineering course from a film school, so music was his passion.
However, like many other in the industry, he needed a source of income to survive till he could do something concrete with his music related endeavors. That’s why he taken up the job. The job did pay him well (Rs. 50k per month), and he had to oversee productions of ad films, short films and so on. At least he was in the right industry, unlike some others who work in banks and government agencies and dream of entering the film industry.
Shekhar was getting desperate to get into music, and he wanted to look for the right job before he got married. That is when he started looking for opportunities in Mumbai, the city where dreams come true. Little did he realize that it was soon going to be a nightmare for him.
Find More About the New Job
“Find as much about the new job, if possible visit the office/studio and check out their work environment. In other industries, it may not be possible, but in the Film & media industry, its still possible.”
Shekhar got in touch with a small production house, who were doing considering work in post-production, especially for high-end weddings and corporate films, and the new company told Shekhar that they were looking for a person who’s good at composing and someone who could provide original music to all their edits.
Shekhar was obviously thrilled as he finally had a job which would give him the opportunity to be creative with music, and the new company also promised to match his current salary. He tried to find out more about the company: the company did exist, the owner was a reputed photographer, they had a decent size studio in Andheri (Mumbai), they had around 15 people (photographers, videographers & editors) employed in-house.
Its just that Shekhar didn’t find out what exactly he would do around the music part, and what sort of infrastructure the studio had to support his music composing & production related role. He just assumed that the production house also had a music studio where music recording facilities exist, which it didn’t.
Leave on a Good Note
“Always leave on a good note, the industry is small and you’ll bump into the same people somewhere down the line”.
Shekhar quit his Bangalore job and moved to Mumbai. On his first day at the new company, he was really disappointed to see that the new company had good post-production facility for editing video but nothing on the music side. His heart sank, but the owner convinced him that he would setup a recording studio over time.
Shekhar didn’t get a good feeling but couldn’t go back to Bangalore. Why? Because he didn’t leave on a good note. He was boastful and told everybody that he was moving to Mumbai to work for a bigger studio, better pay and better work. So he just couldn’t go back.
On the Wrong Path? Turn Around
The next few days were even more miserable for Shekhar, because what he had to do was to find music (from the recent top chart-busters) that would match the high-end weddings that the production house were editing. Shekhar continued to do what was asked of him, but he thought there was no creativity to just find music that would match some video.
And because the company didn’t have a recording facility, he decided to move his home studio setup to office. So he brought his music keyboard, audio interface and speakers (an amateurish music recording setup) and set it up in a spare small room in the production house.
Now that he had his music recording setup (it was small and not professional), he started composing his own tunes whenever he was asked to provide music.
He needed more time (because he was creating original music) and the sound quality wasn’t top notch (because he didn’t have all the equipment/software). As a result, the top bosses at the production house were not impressed with what he delivered, and soon started getting irritated, because they felt that they were not getting return on their investments.
Shekhar was paid his entire salary the first month, but for the second month he was paid only 20k, as the production house felt he didn’t deliver anything. Shekhar protested that it wasn’t fair and he was doing his job with commitment. But the top boss said that he just needed someone who could provide music much faster to his editing team, and the music needn’t be original. Unless he came up to speed, that would be his new salary (salary cut in just the second month, that’s sad).
Shekhar now started getting sleepless nights because he now realized that the company is not going to spend money on setting up a professional recording studio, neither did they have any idea of how a professional music recording studio worked, and above all, they only expected him to provide music (and that too from existing chart-busters) to the editing team.
The new salary was barely enough to pay for rent, to eat, and to commute in a Mumbai. Shekhar knew he had taken the wrong decision of joining this production house, and started looking for another job, but it wasn’t easy.
After spending another unsuccessful month looking for a job in Mumbai, he quit his job at the production house, and moved back to his hometown Chennai. Fortunately, for Shekhar, one of his relatives was in Dubai, and he was eventually able to find a job for himself at a radio station in Dubai. But there are many who’re not so lucky!
So if you’re planning to take up another job, especially in another city, make sure you find more (as much as possible) about the new job, their working environment, before your leave. And please separate from your existing employer on a good note; leave that arrogance behind. It doesn’t take long for circumstances to change, especially in this industry.