The Subtitling Academy

The Story of Subemy

by Nandini Karky

Words have always fascinated me. They seemed to hold within them the power to change the world. I ventured into the field of subtitling on the wings of this passion. I equipped myself with the technical skills that are fundamental to the work of subtitling from Bartho Kriek, an experienced international subtitling professional. This learning gave me the exposure to take in the world of subtitling. Applying this learning and exposure to my work in the Tamil film industry, I gained a multifaceted experience of working in movies of diverse genres. I have laughed, cried and befriended the characters of many movies that they sometimes seem like people I have known forever. Being in the shoes of diverse characters does wonders to one’s sense of empathy. Those are the perks of being a subtitler. 

So here I was, realising that I had learnt this interesting skill with a vast potential and thinking that this knowledge should not fade away just within me. Like a banyan, I felt I must reach back to the earth that grew me. With this seed of thought was born Subemy. Here, I wanted to teach what I know about subtitling and what I wished I had known as a budding subtitler. 

The possibilities of subtitling are many, especially in a multilingual country like India. Consider subtitling wherein the original language remains intact and a textual guide appears on screen in the form of subtitles in the target language. It’s not a leap of imagination to understand the benefits of this form of audio-visual transfer. For, subconsciously, subtitling would generate an awareness and acceptance of other languages while developing the skills in one’s own. Subtitling could be the key that opens the doors of whole-hearted acceptance of other cultures. A Kashmiri programme could be viewed with Tamil subtitles; An Assamese movie could be seen with Gujarati subtitles. That is the potential of subtitling. Subemy is right now taking baby steps towards this dream.

To complete the circle of my journey, I decided to begin at the same point where I began my solo-subtitling career. Consequently, the first course offered by Subemy is targeted towards Tamil-English subtitling in the Tamil film/TV industry. After many months of thought into the curriculum, I completed the design for the first course for Subemy. I wanted this course to be situated in the real-life practice of subtitling within this specific industry and weaved together theory, discussion, practice and learner experiences to reflect this goal. I shared this with consultants whom I knew to have an innovative approach to education as well as a subject matter expert and my teacher, Bartho Kriek. Their positive responses and feedback have honed my course further and given me the motivation to bring this to fruition. 

Looking ahead, the path appears bright with a multitude of roads to take. At the widest vision, I see Subemy as a space of collaboration for subtitlers all over the world, reaching across linguistic and national boundaries. I hope it sets sail on all the seas of subtitling, working on literacy, inclusiveness and cultural bridging. In a specific way, I also wish that this blog space generates discussion and understanding about language, translation and culture through the words of many subtitlers, translators and writers in the days to come.

Seeking your support for Subemy in its dream of building a better world through words. 
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