The “Three Idiots” Effect

Three Idiot’s Effect: Assisting Wildlife Filmmaker

So you are a fresh out of some film school or a photographer with a dream in your heart. You have won a competition or two or have a hundred people clicked on the like button in Facebook after you shared a photo among your friends and other connections. The world just seems to be waiting to embrace you with open arms and proclaim that you are the next best photographer after Art Wolfe. [Dreams unlimited]

You have seen the film Three Idiots. Who hasnt? Such a wonderful film and it talks about a college student with a passion for photography getting selected as an assistant to a successful wildlife photographer.

You then saw a clip of a film titled A CALL IN THE RAINFOREST. You saw a black monkey like creature calling and you are told that it is a Lion-tailed Macaque. You are told that the film is completely shot with a Canon 1D Mark IV. You jump out of your bed. You get some visions of you pushing the button of your Canon 60D/Nikon D3100 and making that movie and success in film festivals [democratisation of dreams.]


You then start chasing that wildlife filmmaker, so much that he wonders what has hit him..

Here is one example. The prefix NB is used for the newbie who wants to become an assistant.

NB: I am new in this field. I want some guide. I need friends in this area. U have G8 instruments.

Sabyasachi Patra: This is a journey. The wildlife photography equipment is costly. You cant buy things in one day. And if you want to become a wildlife filmmaker then it is even more costly.

NB: Yes i know

Sabyasachi Patra: To give you an idea, just my tripod costs 2850 US dollars and the fluid head that sits on top of the tripod is 7000 us dollars. This is costly. Take it step by step. Have you registered in IndiaWilds forums?

NB: No.

Sabyasachi Patra: Register at Indiawilds Forums

Do that using your Full Name as user id. Membership is free. I guide wildlife photographers there and it will help you learn.

NB: I have a dslr camera and I shoot still. I want to be your assistant.

Sabyasachi Patra: Becoming my assistant is not the only way to learn. You join IndiaWilds forums and you will learn sufficiently there. People have learnt photography and won awards within a year of joining IndiaWilds. I have also kept it free.

Only when someone needs more advanced tips, I will organise a paid field trip for imparting specialised instructions. For many enthusiasts, I have spent many hours teaching for free. You can join IndiaWilds forums for free and learn.

NB: Ohh…then i cant. If i got chance to assist u it will be helpful for me…

Sabyasachi Patra: I give tips for free of cost in the forum and lot of people benefit from that.

NB: I need some one whoom i can assist. And by whom i can learn…

Sabyasachi Patra: First you join IndiaWilds Forums which is free of cost and learn there. I critique images of people and guide them there. Others also learn reading those comments. So my time is spent productively in imparting instructions to many people. And that too free of cost. In the forums you would be able to learn not only about Wildlife Photography but also about various Conservation issues in India. Also understanding animal behavior (Natural History) is a big aspect when you are doing wildlife photography or wildlife filming in India. Learning and understanding these things is very important before you embark on a career in Wildlife Photography or Filming. One cannot be a wildlife filmmaker without understanding natural history.

NB: U know abt satayajit roy….the flim director…who got ascar and knowing for his composition. You know how much great personality he had?

Sabyasachi Patra: He was one in a million.

NB: And he guided 2-3 students and they are now famous. Satyajit roy teach them free…sponcer them, give them his own instruments for use…And thats why his works are beyond generations.

But I want that you can copy his thinking. See this field not from the angle of money.but love. U gain the best thing.

Helping some one is the gain. Helping some one in which u r expert is the best thing in the world which cant buy from money

Think about that.

Sabyasachi Patra: Thank you for your lecture. All these years I have been spending money from my pocket in running the IndiaWilds Forums so that youngsters can learn wildlife photography. Twenty years back when I was trying to learn photography, there was no one to teach me. So I learnt myself and decided that I will create a forum where people can learn from me as well as from their peers and I created IndiaWilds forums.

Why will someone take you as an assistant? Taking a person as assistant means added cost. Unless and until someone sees value in taking you as an assistant, they will not take you. My suggestion is that first you join IndiaWilds forums where I help people learn free of cost. Only after learning there, you will get an idea whether you have the talent and whether you really want to get into this field seriously. That will decide the future course of action whether you will become a wildlife filmmaker or photographer or simply decide that this is not to your liking.

——— [End of Conversation] ———————

Sir I am calling from Mumbai.

Sabyasachi Patra: Ok. Tell me how can I help you.


NB2: Sir, I got a link to your wonderful site. You click very nice images. I want to learn wildlife photography.

Sabyasachi Patra: I am happy that you like my images. If you have seen my site, then you would have seen the forums. You can join the indiawilds forums. Membership is free. You can learn wildlife photography there as well as learn Natural history aspects and voice your opinion to protect our forests and wildlife.


NB2: Sir is it really free. Can I really learn?

Sabyasachi Patra: Yes. It is free. Myself and other senior members can guide you there.

NB2: OK sir. I will register.

——— [End of Conversation] ———————

A wild tigress carefully stalking its prey, placing its hind paw at exactly the same spot where the fore paw was placed

NB2: Hello sir, I am calling from Mumbai.

Sabyasachi Patra: Yes. Tell me what can I do for you.

NB2: Sir. I had called you last time for photography. You had told me that you will teach me wildlife photography.

Sabyasachi Patra: Oh Yes. I remember. You had called me last time and I had directed you to join IndiaWilds forums.

NB2: Sir I know you had told me. But Sir, I really want to learn wildlife photography. Mujhe sikhaoge na please?

Sabyasachi Patra: Listen I had told you that first you join the forums and then you will learn and you will know whether you really want to buy expensive equipment.

NB2: Sir please. I want to learn. Mujhe apka assistant banado na please! (means please make me your assistant).

Sabyasachi Patra: Hey listen! I understand you want to assist me. I only take assistants when I am doing a wildlife filming project. My shooting times are typically short. At the moment, I go for filming with a max one or two other people and others helping mostly on voluntary basis or at times paid for specific requirements. I am juggling my wildlife filmmaking projects with my job. You can learn by doing many activities like research on subject, location, learn about photography and natural history in the forums and then when there is requirement we will take use your services.

NB2: No Sir. Mujhe assistant banado na please. It is my dream..

——— [End of Conversation] ———————


A wild tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) drinks water in a summer morning in Bandhavgarh National Park. It was subsequently disturbed by tourists and went away after drinking for only 5 minutes. On later occasions I have seen this tigress drink for fifteen minutes.

Another day, Another place..


NB3: Good afternoon sir!

Sabyasachi Patra: Good afternoon!

NB3: Sir I am a student currently learning film in XXXX Film School, Chennai.

Sabyasachi Patra: Good to know that you are a filming student. Tell me what you want.

NB3: Sir. My uncle is a cinematographer in Kollywood.

Sabyasachi Patra: Where?

NB3: Kollywood Sir. Chennai.

Sabyasachi Patra: Great to know that your uncle is a cinematographer. You are fortunate.

NB3: But Sir! I only want to be wildlife photographer Sir!

Sabyasachi Patra: Why? What happened? Why only wildlife photography?

NB3: No Sir! I like wildlife photography Sir! I want to be your assistant Sir! Now I dont have a camera Sir! But I will buy a 7D Sir! Please take me as your assistant Sir!

Sabyasachi Patra: Listen. You are already studying cinematography in a film school. So why do you want to learn from me. You will be having access to equipment, so you can learn from your film school.

NB3: No Sir! That course will be over sir. I want to be your assistant Sir! I only need 15 thousand rupees Sir! And food and other costs Sir!

Sabyasachi Patra: See. I am not taking any assistants. I feel you should take the help of your teachers in the film school to get an internship somewhere. If you are really passionate about wildlife, then you can join indiawilds forums. Over a period of time you will realize whether you are passionate about wildlife and environment. Only if you are passionate, then you can sustain yourself in wildlife photography and filming. Once I see that you are really interested, and when time is ripe you can certainly be a part.

NB3: OK Sir.

——— [End of Conversation] ———————

From the above conversations, few things were clear. First is that People don’t want to take the long road. They want to achieve it in one day. The person doesnt want to take the long road in terms of uploading his images for critiquing in the IndiaWilds forums ( ) and learn free of cost. Two, the person wants an easy path to glory by assisting me. And the third fact is the person is just thinking and talking about himself and his needs. A salesman will always teach you that, you have to excite the other person to buy your product or service. So my message to all such youngsters is please dont approach a person by saying that you want to become a wildlife photographer or how much you love watching those Animal Planet or National Geographic channels.

If I dont know the capability of a person and dont know whether he can help me during my filming trips in Wild India, then obviously it is difficult to take someone. When I am filming wild elephants on foot, I have to be sure that my assistant and other team members are careful and are safe. After all, filming in Wild India has got its own challenges. Once I had to be treated in Apollo Hospital. There is immense hardships associated with wildlife filming in India. And on top of that, if you take an assistant to help you for your wildlife filming there is an added cost. With the difficulties in getting funds for Indian wildlife filmmakers, why will someone take a newbie if there is no value?

People also think that Wildlife Photography and Filming is the “in thing”. It is glamorous and hence they want to do it.

Wildlife filming and photography is a passion. It is a reason for existence for many. To the outside world it appears glamorous. However, the people who have been successful have persevered for years. They have put in blood, sweat and tears. They have put in enormous sacrifices. Unfortunately, todays generation looks to get everything on a platter.

If you are an artist then you should be ready to make a sacrifice. What kind of sacrifice can you do for photography? I know of a person who calls me every 30-40 days when he remembers about wildlife photography and on other times he is preoccupied in watching movies, Facebook and other such preoccupations. Wildlife photography is a fad for many.

To all such people, my suggestion is think about what you love. Follow your passion. You cant achieve success in a day; you have to work for a lifetime.

If you have any questions to ask about Wildlife Filmmaking in India, then you can ask in the comments section below.

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