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BA (Hons) Digital Film Production - Course Modules

In the first year, students are introduced to both practical and critical approaches to their work. They explore connections between theory and practice and are encouraged to start and develop their personal professional portfolio.

In the second year, students will further develop their critical and analytical skills and their conceptual and visual creativity, resulting in the making and production of short films through ‘ideas led’ film making.

In the final year, there is a stronger focus on negotiated elements of work including a critical dissertation or research project and an independent video project where students will make a short film in a genre of their choice. A professional practice module also enables students to undertake a work placement and reflect critically upon it.

The BA (Hons) Digital Film Production degree allows students to obtain a wide range of transferable skills to respond to changes in the modern film and broadcast landscape and to succeed in this highly competitive industry.

Year 1

Digital Film Production: Introduction Part One (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module introduces creative digital filmmaking practice and is designed to encourage a flexible, informed, imaginative and reflective approach to practical work. Above all this module aims at introducing students to basic camera, sound and post-production so that good working practices are established in order to aid the student’s progression over the three-year course.

Students will also develop visually creative thinking practices and technical competencies in the ‘craft skills’ of filmmaking through engagement with exercises and tasks set to clearly specified briefs. The development of ‘craft skills’ in this module will be underpinned and informed by study in the IMDFLM105 Film Studies One: Analysis and Issues module.

Indicative Content

Workshop projects will present rigorous production schedules revolving around contrasting topics and genres that establish a strong foundation in basic film production skills.

The rudiments of camera operation, composition and depth of field will be presented along with location sound recording, first steps in editing and post-production techniques.

The following topics will form a skills and techniques core and may translate into session titles:

  • The generation of ideas and techniques
  • The role of pre-production preparation, storyboarding, the location recce

Using digital cameras, shooting topics will include:

  • The lens, focus, exposure, 180 degree line and the 30 degree rule
  • Framing and the effect of the frame
  • Basic lighting, colour temperature
  • Shooting style, selecting the shot, shot size
  • Camera movement
  • Rudimentary composition principles
  • Sound recording

Basic editing and post-production in Avid will include the following topics:

  • Three point editing, split edits
  • Basic transitions and effects
  • Keyframing audio
  • An introduction to colour correction
  • Exporting out of Avid

Assessment

  • Portfolio: Digital Film Technique Assignments x 3 (80%)

  • Critical Evaluation (20%)

Digital Film Production: Introduction Part Two (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module reinforces and develops key filmmaking skills learnt in Digital Film Production: Introduction Part One, with a greater emphasis on the creation and realization of a single project. Throughout the module students will be encouraged to adopt an ‘ideas led’ approach to filmmaking, drawing and building upon their work in the Developing Screen Ideas module.

Key conceptual, production and professional practices, including relevant pre-production, production and post-production procedures will be introduced with a view to developing skills in assessing the feasibility of projects and managing projects from initial planning to completion.

Indicative Content

Workshops and exercises in class will augment existing skills and be tailored to individual projects.  The classes will also be informed by the content of Developing Screen Ideas, Film Studies Two: Film History, and Audio One: Production Sound.

The following new skills will be developed:

  • The generation of ideas and techniques for writing a treatment
  • Camera movement in the context of both documentary and fiction filmmaking
  • Three point lighting, with a greater emphasis on light ratios and control of light sources both in front and behind the subject
  • Post production with more on primary and secondary colour correction, time warp, re-framing, the effects pallet, key-framing and nesting effects, rolling titles
  • Green screen and basic layering in Avid
  • Collaboration with other disciplines and departments

Tools for the critique of students’ own work and the work of others will draw primarily on the content of Developing Screen Ideas, but also the other Level 4 modules.

Assessment

  • Digital Film Short (approx' 5 mins, 80%)

  • Critical Evaluation (20%)

 

Film Studies One: Analysis and Issues (Mandatory)

Rationale

This introductory module is designed to stimulate the student’s intellectual curiosity. It will develop the student’s critical knowledge and skills base in ways which complement and inform the conceptual and practical work being done in Video Practice and Production: Introduction, as well as students’ work in the other Level 4 modules. The module introduces Film Studies as an academic discipline, provides the student with a toolkit of concepts for the close analysis of a range of film texts and genres, links concepts to longstanding issues within film criticism and theory, and sets the student on the path of historical and contextual film enquiry through the study of a diverse range of films from around the world. The student will be introduced to a range of subject-specific and generic skills needed for the development of effective academic study. Links between criticism, theory, practice and creative work will be stressed throughout, with the overall aim of developing the student’s critical abilities in the close analysis of texts within appropriate historical and other contexts. These are vital in developing the student’s intellectual capacities as a confident independent learner with a critical voice of their own and as a knowledgeable reflective practitioner.

Indicative Content

The module begins with a session on the nature and scope of Film Studies, introducing the subject’s emergence as an academic discipline and outlining some of its key concepts. Full length screenings and clips from a diverse range of films will be linked to particular concepts and theoretical issues in the field.

The first half of the module will focus on concepts such as form, narrative and non-narrative, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound (several of which can be linked to production ‘craft skills)’ and genre, and will touch on issues such as authorship, performance/stardom and canonicity, critical paradigms and taste.

In the second half of the module the focus will be on representation and issues of race and ethnicity in American film and how these representations of certain groups of people compare to examples from other national cinemas.

The module also focuses on developing essential academic skills for film study, so attention is given to the requirements of independent and self-directed study, using the VLE, viewing (including viewing foreign language films), reading, note-taking, researching in the library and online, discriminating between different types of sources, planning and writing essays, referencing and plagiarism and exam skills.

Assessment

  • Practical Analysis, 1500 words, 35%
  • Essay, 2500 – 3000 words, 65%

 

Film Studies Two: Film History (Mandatory)

Rationale

This introductory module is coupled with and follows directly on from Film Studies One. The module is designed to stimulate the student’s intellectual curiosity in the field of Film Studies. It will develop the student’s critical knowledge and skills base in ways which complement and inform the conceptual and practical work being done in Video Practice and Production: Introduction, as well as students’ work in the other Level 4 modules. The module introduces Film Studies as an academic discipline, provides the student with a toolkit of concepts for the close analysis of a range of film texts and genres, linking concepts to longstanding issues within film criticism and theory, and sets the student on the path of historical and contextual film enquiry through the study of a diverse range of films from around the world. The student will be introduced to a range of subject-specific and generic skills needed for the development of effective academic study. Links between criticism, theory, practice and creative work will be stressed throughout, with the overall aim of developing the student’s critical abilities in the close analysis of texts within appropriate historical and other contexts. These are vital in developing the student’s intellectual capacities as a confident independent learner with a critical voice of their own and as a knowledgeable reflective practitioner.

Indicative Content

This module introduces students to the study of Film History. After an initial session on varieties of film history in Film Studies, the screenings are linked to key phases, moments or issues in the history of Hollywood and world cinema. These may include the silent era, the emergence of the studio system and the classical Hollywood narrative film, the advent of sound, key production cycles, the historical development of the representation of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, the emergence of post-classical Hollywood after the breakup of the studio system and the growth of blockbuster culture since the 1970's.

The module also focuses on developing essential academic skills for film study, so attention is given to the requirements of independent and self-directed study, using the VLE, viewing (including viewing foreign language films), reading, note-taking, researching in the library and online, discriminating between different types of sources, planning and writing essays, referencing and plagiarism and exam skills.

Assessment

  • Test Papers, eight short quizzes equivalent to 1500 words, 35%
  • Historical Case Study, 2500 – 3000 words, 65%

 

Audio One: Production Sound (Mandatory)

Rationale

During the course of the module students will learn the fundamentals of recording sound for picture and the role of the sound mixer in film production. By shooting their own short films, students will learn how to shoot both single-system and double-system footage and how to log, synchronise and edit that footage. In the process they will apply what they have learnt in class regarding microphone selection and placement, acoustics, digital recording and data transfer and management. The course also aims to support teaching in other modules by calling on students to engage fully in the preproduction, shooting and editing of their own work.

Indicative Content

During the course of the term, students are taught how to record sound, both single- and double-system, for film. While learning an array of methodologies and equipment, they are required to work in small groups in order to make two short films, one documentary (single-system) and one drama (double-system).

Students are required to submit paperwork at each stage of production: proposal, treatment, marked-up script, shooting script, shot list, shooting schedule, camera log and sound log.

Practical tests ensure students can operate hard disk recorders, multichannel field mixers, boom mics and radio mics.

A written exam ensures students are fully conversant with essential audio theory, including acoustics, digital audio and microphone characteristics, and film sound methodologies.

Assessment

  • Film Documentary (single-system), 3-5 minutes, 40%
  • Film Drama (double-system), 3-5 minutes, 40%
  • Time Constrained Assignment, 1 hour, 20%

 

Developing Screen Ideas (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module introduces students to the developmental process within filmmaking and is fundamentally concerned with the generation of ideas and the creative processes involved in their realisation.

Initially, students will explore key concepts and practices within screenwriting, critically analysing narrative structure, story types and themes, conflict, action, character, dialogue, genre and style. This critical study will be complemented by screenwriting tasks on action, character, dialogue and genre, which will be included in students’ portfolios.

Students will start to develop ideas for drama and documentary films, building a portfolio of industry standard development documents that will include synopses, outlines, treatments, beat-sheets, step-outlines, premises and pitches. This second part of the module, in particular, will complement and support summative filmmaking work in the Video Practice and Production: Introduction module, and will also provide students with the foundation skills on which to build upon in the second year Video Practice and Screenwriting modules.

Indicative Content

The format and function of the screenplay in the filmmaking process

This section will focus on the critical analysis and discussion of the screenplay’s function in the filmmaking process, and the format and construction of a screenplay, focusing on slug lines, dialogue, action, beats, scenes, sequences and acts.

Narrative structure

In this segment students will examine a number of narrative structures, including 3-act, linear, episodic, thematic, associational and circular, and how the cinematic storytelling structures of the western world correspond and/or differ to other national cinemas. In addition, students will critically analyse the theories, concepts and/or models of Aristotle, Field, Vogler and Truby, applying them to a number of produced film scripts to consider each ones strengths and weaknesses.

Conflict, action and rising action

In this segment students will develop their knowledge of narrative structure by critically analysing how screenplays use conflict and action to create drama, which in the 3-act structure builds to the final climax and resolution.

Story types and themes

In this section students will critically analyse the common and recurring story types and themes within screen stories and how and why they are used, focusing on the human experience and Aristotle’s concepts of imitation, error and catharsis.

Character, dialogue and exposition

Students will critically analyse the characters, dialogue and exposition in a number of films and screenplays, focussing on the differences between characters’ needs and desires, how character types and stereotypes can be employed, character point-of-view and the difference between effective and ‘on-the-nose’ dialogue and exposition. Once students have gained this knowledge and understanding they will apply it practically by creating short character profiles and scenes, which will be part of their final portfolio.

Genre and style

In this section students will develop their knowledge of genre from the Film Studies module to understand how screenwriters can use genre to enhance their writing by either conforming to generic conventions without becoming cliché, or successfully subverting generic conventions, and thus audience expectations. In addition, students will learn how a screenwriter can imprint his/her own style on the page/screen and critically analyse a number of films and screenplays to identify a wide range of styles including, naturalism, realist, expressionist, surrealist, theatrical, fantastical, observational and impressionist.

Developing screen ideas

This segment will be a substantial portion of the module where students will critically analyse and produce loglines, synopses, outlines, treatments, beat-sheets, step-outlines, premises and pitches for both drama and documentary films. Students will constructively criticise and evaluate one another’s pre-production documents throughout the second semester, enabling them to gain formative feedback on work they will later submit in a portfolio at the end of the module.

The life of a screenwriter

Students will be introduced to the many facets that comprise the life of a screenwriter, including agents, writers’ guilds, contacts and networking, pitching, working with commissioning editors, producers, directors and actors, different forms of rejection and how to handle it, and options, purchases and development deals.

Assessment

  • Practical analysis, 2000 words (40%)

  • Portfolio of Development Documents, 4500 words equivalent (60%)

Year 2

Researching Film: Theories and Methods (Mandatory)

Rationale

This Level 5 module is designed to continue the focus on textual and contextual study and the development of subject-specific and generic skills established especially in Level 4 Film Studies: Analysis, Issues and History. As with the Film Studies module, it will develop the student’s critical knowledge and skills base in ways which complement and inform the conceptual and practical work being done in the Level 5 Video Practice and Production: Documentary and Drama. The module addresses theoretical and critical approaches to the study of film texts and provides a preparation for students’ own independent research. Focusing on a range of film theories, approaches and methods which have been influential in the development of Film as a field of academic study, it will enable students to examine various ideas, assumptions and procedures and try them out on a diverse range of films. Links between criticism, theory, practice and creative work will be stressed throughout, with the overall aim of developing the student’s critical abilities in the close analysis of texts drawing on appropriate theoretical and critical perspectives. Examining and trying out differing approaches will further develop students’ capacities as independent learners and prepare them for making explicit their own critical approach when formulating their research proposal for the Dissertation at Level 6.

Indicative Content

The module begins with a brief overview of different theoretical and critical approaches to the study of film texts, highlighting the characteristic orientations and concerns of each and beginning to unpick how text and context are related in each. Continuities and discontinuities in the history of issues addressed by film theory will be raised, as will the changing scope of film theory as societies and technologies change. Thereafter a variety of approaches is introduced, explaining the work of the foundational thinker or thinkers in each case and surveying examples of the kinds of film theoretical and critical work each has stimulated before moving on to consider the application of ideas to a particular film or ways of situating a film. Examples of selected topics to be covered could include: narrative, genre, postmodernism, authorship, spectatorship, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, Marxism and postcolonial theory.

Assessment

  • Analysis, 2000 words (40%)

  • Essay, 3000 words (60%)

 

Screenwriting: The Ten Minute Short (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module explores the theory and practice of writing for the screen, specifically the ten minute short. Students will engage with key practical manuals and critical studies of the screenwriting process and study a range of globally diverse short films and published film scripts. The culmination of this work will be the production of a ten page screenplay which will form the basis of the ten minute short film made in the spring/summer segment of Video: Documentary and Drama. The course allows students to participate in such debates by critically reading theoretical works as well as reading and watching a variety of examples of dramatic texts and performances.

It is recognised that a creative writing strand in a Film degree is an invaluable way of seeing the process of writing from a new perspective and for the writer to become more engaged in their own learning. Reading and writing film scripts will help develop critical, interpretative, and evaluative capabilities. Students keep a notebook detailing screenplays that they have chosen to read independently, as well as those read in the teaching sessions. These examples will be read and discussed alongside other critical and theoretical texts about the form.

Indicative Content

The module will initially revolve around the close study of a number of short films and published (short) screenplays focusing on areas such as:

  • Narrative and story structure in the short film

  • Form and style of the short film

  • Action and conflict

  • Characterisation

  • Dialogue and exposition

  • Slug lines and scene description

  • Writing for actors and directors

Later in the module these key areas will then be employed as guidance in the creation of the students’ original screenplays with particular attention to skills in writing accurately, using punctuation effectively, editing, layout, formatting and presenting copy for production. One of most important factors that will drive this process is that the screenplays they produce will be taken forward and produced later in year in the drama segment of the Video Practice and Production module.

Assessment

  • Ten page screenplay, equivalent to ten minute running time, (100%)

 

Avant-garde and Experimental Film (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module enables students to explore alternatives to mainstream cinema which have attracted the label avant-garde, experimental, underground or alternative. Building on work done in previous critical and practical modules and also complementing the concurrent Level 5 ones, the module aims to expand students’ theoretical, critical, practical and creative horizons by engaging them with a range of work and filmmaking modes which may be unfamiliar. The module will examine examples from the many movements and trends from the 1910s to the contemporary scene and there may be opportunities to consider the migration of experimental techniques into commercial forms such as advertising, music video, children’s television or interactive television. Students will write a short case study on the production context and salient style and techniques of a particular movement, practitioner or film and make and reflect on their own individual experimental short film, taking their case study findings as a point of departure. Combining thinking, making and reflecting directly, it is hoped that the module will be open-ended, playful and experimental, stimulating students’ imagination and creativity and suggesting possible ideas for Level 6 dissertations and/or video projects.

Indicative Content

The module will study a range of avant-garde and experimental films and facilitate the production of and reflection on a short piece of video work, with a view to developing students’ knowledge and understanding of the interconnections between their own theoretical, critical, practical and creative work. Students will explore, practice and reflect on filmmaking styles and practices which have been traditionally opposed to mainstream commercial production. Following consideration of definitions and terminologies – avant-garde, experimental, underground, alternative – the module will address movements, moments and instances in the history of avant-garde and experimental film, including a range of types and genres – such as shorts, features, documentaries, animation, alternative narrative, non-narrative, abstract and associational forms – and changing opportunities, challenges and constraints in shifts from film and video to digital and online practices. Among the topics which could be addressed are: the idea of the avant-garde and the experimental; the European 1920's - French Impressionism, Surrealism, fantasy, Dadaism, German Expressionism and Soviet Montage; the postwar US independent and underground scene; art cinema and the auteur – for instance, Bergman, Antonioni, Lynch, Jarman or Greenaway; feminist, gay, lesbian and queer avant-garde and oppositional work; animation; the incorporation of avant-garde and experiment styles and techniques into advertising, music video, title sequences, children’s television programming and contemporary interactive television; and British experimentalism in video and installation art since the 1970's. The issues of where we might locate the avant-garde and the experimental today and of what such practices mean or can mean in postmodern consumer culture will be addressed throughout. Out of and in dialogue with these critical considerations throughout the module, students will develop their own creative video project and reflect on the critical and practical work they have done.

Assessment

  • Case study, 1500 words (40%)

  • Video short, (60%)

 

Digital Film Production: Documentary (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module develops the Level 4 digital film work by deepening the student’s engagement with the medium through practical engagement with the many different forms of documentary story-telling. Analysis of contrasting examples from the practice across several continents in combination with short exercises will culminate in the production of a documentary short film to be made in small groups. 

Indicative Content

Workshops will train students in the art of visual story telling in less controllable environments. This will be supported by a series of sessions that explain the historical context of evolving documentary practices and the diverse ethical and aesthetic decisions made by past and present practitioners from different continents.

Workshops will cover the following topics:

  • Research and methods of writing a proposal
  • Use of handheld camera and tripod
  • Filming movement and moving the camera
  • Recording location sound
  • Composition as a tool for story-telling
  • Use of lenses within a documentary context
  • Constructing a sequence for editing
  • Working in a small team

Assessment

  • Short Documentary Film (80%)

  • Critical Evaluation (20%)

 

Digital Film Production: Drama (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module develops the Level 4 digital film work by deepening the student’s engagement with the field through the study and production of a short drama. Students will develop the screenplays written in the Screenwriting: The Ten Minute Short module, and will work in teams to produce ten minute short films based on these screenplays. Throughout this second section of the module students will develop their understanding and knowledge of narrative based drama and the possibilities and limitations of the short film form. Students will be encouraged to be innovative in their use of the form and produce both conceptually and visually creative content. 

Indicative Content

Students will direct / produce a film from their own script and contribute to the production of a number of fictional films by their peers.

Set against this workshop structure the following techniques and skills will form the core of the module and may translate into session titles:

  • Breaking down a script
  • Detailed shooting day scheduling and pre-planning
  • Improving and formalising storyboards and its relationship to cinematography and editing
  • Location hunting and considerations health and safety and feasibility
  • Casting
  • Rehearsing actors
  • Movement within frame and choreography of characters
  • Camera supports and gripology
  • Use of lenses and procedures for focus pulling
  • Control of lighting using flags and diffusion

Assessment

  • Ten Minute Drama Short (80%)

  • Critical Evaluation (20%)

 

Audio Two: Postproduction Sound (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module forms an introduction to the key concepts, methodologies and techniques of audio post-production for film. Building on the skills acquired in Production Sound (level 4), students will design a soundtrack for a short animated film extract using Soundtrack Pro software and applying level balancing, stereo imaging, equalization and reverb to tracks that they have imported and synchronised to picture. Their second practical project will require them to: shoot and edit a short film scene; synchronise direct sound recordings from the shoot; export from Final Cut Pro to a suitable digital audio workstation in order to clean up, sweeten and augment their recordings; and finally mix down to stereo before re-exporting the soundtrack back into Final Cut.

By the end of the module students will have a clear idea of the processes involved in putting a film through post-production and should find themselves suitably equipped to record, edit and engineer the soundtracks for their own and each other’s films during the remainder of their studies and beyond.

A written exam will test students’ grasp of the theoretical and methodological content of the course.

Indicative Content

During the course of the term, students are taught how to bring a locked-off edit into post-production for sound and how to creatively augment that same footage.

The module will include the following topics:

  • file import, export and management
  • audio sweetening and clean-up
  • equalisation
  • reverb and spatial imaging
  • digital signal processing (DSP)
  • ‘Round tripping’ between Final Cut Pro and the digital audio workstation
  • waveform editing
  • dialogue editing
  • mixing down to stereo
  • post-production tasks such as ADR, foley and sound effects re-recording.

A written exam ensures students are fully conversant with key technical and methodological aspects of audio post-production.

Assessment

  • Sound Design Project, 1 minute, 40%
  • Audio Post Project, 1 – 2 minutes, 40%
  • Time Constrained Assignment, 1 hour, 20%

Year 3

Dissertation (Mandatory)

Rationale

This yearlong module represents the culmination of the student’s critical development on the course. It provides an opportunity for students to explore a chosen area of Film studies. Students design and carry out a sustained and coherent piece of independent research in an area of scholarship that they wish to pursue. While every effort will be made to accommodate students’ choices, it is anticipated that the topics chosen will generally relate to work undertaken in previous modules or possibly in other concurrent Level 6 modules. In each case, the work will draw on the appropriate methodological approaches introduced at Level 5.

Students undertaking a Film dissertation will work initially as a group with the module leader to formulate preliminary research proposals, to consider the feasibility of the chosen research area and propose an appropriate methodological approach. As well as meeting as a group to consider common research issues, students will then work independently, guided by specialist subject supervisors who will be assigned once proposals have been formulated.  

Students will be encouraged to keep a reflective journal of their research activities, viewing and thought processes during the year, in order to discuss them within group and individual tutorials.

Indicative Content

The proposed content of a student’s research project will need to be agreed with tutors but will typically involve the analysis of a film text or texts or other objects of film study which can elicit close analytic reading situated in an appropriate critical and theoretical framework, whether aesthetic, formal, generic, ideological, representation, contextual or historical.

Once proposals have been agreed, students will work individually with their allocated specialist supervisors. It has been agreed that students will be able to see their tutors for a maximum of six tutorial sessions during the year. Students continue to convene occasionally to discuss conducting literature searches, focusing on key texts, refining aims, formulating research questions, and establishing the place of the student’s own argument or analysis within the field of study.

The dissertation group meetings will provide opportunities for students to develop and test their ideas by presenting them informally to their peers and to gain formative peer and tutor feedback. The sessions will encourage students’ critical self-reflection and evaluation of the process of work.

Assessment

  • Proposal, 2000 words (20%)

  • Dissertation, 8000 words (80%)

 

Digital Film Production: Final Project (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module is the culmination of the student’s conceptual, practical and creative development on the course. Students will be expected critically evaluate the ideas generated in the Level 6 Development and Pre-production: Final Project module in order to select the most original and physically feasible concept for a film which they will make independently on digital film. This conceptual selection process will enable them to use the form of their choice, possibly documentary, drama or experimental, in the most innovative manner. It is anticipated that the film made will relate to work undertaken in a previous module or other Level 6 module. However, students will be expected to stretch their creative boundaries to produce conceptually and visually creative content. There will be space in the autumn to teach further practical or technical skills as appropriate. The work will be supported by group sessions and individual tutorial support. 

The module revolves around the separate and distinct threads of fiction, non-fiction and experimental film presented elsewhere in the programme and maps them against the evolution of a cinematic language which concerns itself with notions of fiction, drama, and realism. Building on experience from Levels 4 and 5, students have the opportunity to concentrate on the more advanced image-making capabilities of the filmmaking tool kit and will be encouraged in experimentation and audio-visual risk taking. 

Indicative Content

This module culminates in the production of a negotiated film project. Part of the negotiation will focus on the genre of the major project, but students will essentially be choosing from the genres presented earlier in the degree, i.e. documentary, fictional short or experimental film.

The Semester 1 workshops will present a structured production schedule revolving around a number of more advanced topics. The knowledge and skills that students develop in the creation of film will derive from a range of points of departure. This breadth is intended to service the choice presented in the negotiated production project which forms the major assignment in the second half of the module. The Semester 1 workshops will consolidate technical story telling skills in documentary, experimental, and narrative contexts - in relation to structure, camera movement, depth of field, framing, light, colour, and creative use of audio. The workshops and small projects aim at both consolidating pre-existing skills and also pushing the barriers of form in all three genres.

In addition to refining existing known shooting and editing techniques, some advanced key skills in lighting, grading, and image processing and will be covered. Students will be encouraged to engage with the management of more substantial and sophisticated productions.

Assessment

  • Portfolio of Film Development Work (10%)

  • Film Short (70%

  • Critical Evaluation (20%)

 

Professional Practice (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module will provide an opportunity for students to undertake a work placement and develop the knowledge and skills that underpin their own creative, professional and personal self-development. Building upon level four and five production modules, this module prepares students for professional life after graduation and establishes the skills and resources needed to develop a sustainable practice and work in either a self-employed or employed capacity.

Indicative Content

  • Work Placement

Students will undertake a placement during the summer before level 6 or during their final year. The placement must be negotiated with the module leader and may take the form of an internship of at least forty hours with a company or a film project that students are employed to undertake by an organization. Students will be given guidance on appropriate and available placements, approaching a work place, terms of agreement between the university and the placement provider, including legal and health and safety issues, specified in the Humanities Work-Based Learning Handbook (based on the UoS Placement Policy).

  •  Business Management, Marketing and Promotion for Filmmakers

This segment of the module will provide introductory skills to manage a business as a professional filmmaker such as a production company. Students will be introduced to the processes involved with marketing and promoting themselves, understanding artists fees, VAT and the realities of working as a freelancer.

  •  Creating a Digital Portfolio

This segment aims to deal with enhancing the presentation of students’ portfolio of work. Students will explore the best and worst portfolio design practices so that they can identify the most appropriate way to visually present their work and experience in a dynamic and professional way. They will learn how to plan and create a DVD/CD-ROM digital portfolio to be used as an interactive personal marketing tool, which will later be developed and adapted for online usage such as a starting point for a website. The portfolio will include: show reels, electronic press kits (EPKs), website, profiles on networking sites, CV and business cards.

Assessment

  • Research Paper, 2000 words (40%)
  • Digital Portfolio, 3000 word equivalent (60%)

 

Development and Pre-production: Project (Mandatory)

Rationale

This module builds on the students’ knowledge of the development and pre-production processes within filmmaking and is fundamentally concerned with the generation of ideas and the creative and practical processes involved in their realisation.

Students will have the choice to develop ideas for a short drama, documentary or experimental film. Intensive weekly workshop and feedback sessions will then be provided during which students will produce, submit and critique development documents for their and film projects and those of their peers. Depending on the genre of their film, students will produce some or all of the following industry standard documents: premises, outlines, proposals, treatments, step-outlines, screenplays, synopses, artist statements, mood- and story-boards.

For the last third of the module students will continue to assess and fine-tune their primary development documents, i.e. screenplays, treatments and proposals, but will move on to the pre-production stage during which they will plan their final year film projects, creating breakdowns, schedules, call sheets, shot lists and budgets.

The summative work within this module will be the basis for the students’ final short film project, which they will undertake in the level six Video Practice and Production: Project module.

Indicative Content

The module will initially revolve around the close study of a number of short drama, documentary and experimental films and published (short) screenplays focusing on areas such as:

  • Narrative and story structure in the short film, including linear, non-linear, alternative and experimental, circular and associational
  • Form and style of the short film
  • Aesthetic and thematic concerns
  • Action and conflict
  • Characterisation
  • Dialogue and exposition
  • Slug lines and scene description
  • Writing for actors and directors

Running concurrently and then subsequently to the seminars on the close analysis of short films will be weekly intensive workshops where students will submit their development documents (scripts, treatments, etc.) at least every other week for critical review and peer and tutor feedback. One of most important factors that will drive this process is the fact that screenplays, treatments and proposals students produce will be taken forward and produced in the Video Practice and Production: Project module.

Assessment

  • Development and pre-production documents (screenplay, step outline, treatment, artist statement etc.) for either a drama, documentary or experimental film (80%)

  • Feedback, drafts and pre-production portfolio, (20%)