Creating a video is easy. Just grab a video camera, press the record button and shoot what’s happening in front of you. However, becoming a filmmaker capable of creating a high-quality movie or documentary requires studying various techniques, building up your technical abilities and coming up with innovative ideas.
Though the Cambodian film industry isn’t producing many high-quality movies these days, there are a number of schools and courses available to Cambodian youth who hope to build their career around the video camera.
Limkokwing University is one of the most recent additions to Cambodia’s network of higher-education institutions, and it offers a four-year programme in film and TV production. As it has local and international lecturers possessing professional experience, students can focus on working in the media in areas such as post-production, photography and many others.
Though Limkokwing offers some of the best academic resources in Cambodia, as it is a branch of Limkokwing Malaysia, it is not cheap. Students must pay a US$1,500 tuition for the foundation year, and between $5,000 and $7,500 for the full four years, depending on whether they opt for a one- or four-month study-abroad programme.
The Department of Media and Communication (DMC) at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) has been around for nearly a decade and awards scholarships to 30 students every year to pursue a bachelor degree in journalism, with courses that include multimedia and film production. In 2001 DMC became the first university department to focus on journalism and media production. In their sixth semester, students are given a chance to produce a documentary with guidance from foreign lecturers.
Many of the students from the DMC have received scholarships to do internships in the fields of journalism and filmmaking. Graduates from DMC are working as journalists, documentary makers and communications officers for NGOs and public institutions across the country.
If you are already enrolled in a different major but want to learn how to make films outside of school or the workplace, there are a number of options in the Kingdom. Meta House, now at a new location near the corner of Sothearos and Sihanouk boulevards, provides free courses that give students the chance to advance their practical skills. The programme requires students to come up with ideas, develop them and turn them into an actual film.
Nico Mesterharm, Meta House’s director, said that he hopes more students will come to Meta House with creative and innovative ideas for films they want to make. If they want to make a film, but they lack the funding, the centre will consider their idea and discuss how it might be financed and produced.
“Students can come to learn when they are free, but if they are on a shooting schedule, they may need to come for two or three full days. After shooting they have to edit the film and watch it many times to create a finished product,” he said.
If you are between 16 and 22 years-old and you have time to learn about film production, Support Children and Young people (SCY), located at 90G Street 384, is a great place for you to learn video techniques. Since 2004, SCY has been working to produce short documentaries relating to the lives of youth in Cambodia.
Participants will be taught specific and marketable skills such as script writing, interviewing, film shooting and editing. They must go out to the field to find stories that they can turn into documentaries to be shown to the public. Em Chanmakara, executive director of SCY, said, “We have typically selected 30 students to work here, but since getting more funds from SKN Netherlands, we plan to choose more students from three other provinces; Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Thom, and Battambang.”
Ream Chamroeun, a SCY volunteer, said, “I am so proud of myself since I am admired by a lot of people who saw my film.” He added that if he has chance, he plans to make good on his childhood dream of being a commercial moviemaker.
The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts plans on expanding their Professional Training Center to open more courses in film editing, film shooting and location spotting taught by professionals from Europe.
Sin Chanchaya, director of the Film Department in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said that his department has been running a course for the past year, enrolling 10 students to study the specific skills of filmmaking. In the future, he said, the ministry plans to create more courses to improve the film industry in Cambodia.