Master inFeature Filmmaking
This course is designed to give students an industry-focused education in the business and practice of modern low-budget feature making for fact or fiction.
The course teaches you how modern filmmakers make feature length projects and offers practical experience of trying to make such projects. The collaborative nature of modern film making means that this is a course for students with aspirations as directors, producers, AP’s, camera ops, editors etc. who want to develop both their aesthetic and business skills for a long successful career working on feature length documentaries or fiction films.
Course Structure and Content
The course teaches you how modern filmmakers make feature length projects and offers practical experience of trying to make such projects. We cannot guarantee that your project will get made and your success in academic terms will not depend upon you having completed a feature (although we are confident that many students will achieve this).
All students will graduate with a wealth of professional contacts, a stunning show-reel, a fully developed feature film project and the knowledge and contacts how to get ahead in the film business.
The aim is that at the end of the MA in Feature Filmmaking students will have received a through education in the needs and techniques of the micro -budget film business and have the skills to be able to negotiate favourable terms for their current (and future feature projects) to be distributed.
There are two durations of the MAFM – full time over 12 months and part time over 24 months.
- Workshop modules: These are practical and creative filmmaking workshops, which will give students the techniques for feature film production for low budget film production. In workshop modules students will be taught by BSU academic staff, with experience in documentary or drama production, and/or by industry professionals.
- Context modules: Context modules are offered in the belief that filmmakers will only reap the rewards of their creative skills if they have an adequate understanding of the industry, the financial and legal frameworks and the operation of these systems. These are not modules that would be covered in an MA in Film Studies as they relate entirely to the business functions of the industry although you will investigate the power and dominance of the Hollywood studio system and its impact on narrative, for example. However you will then apply this knowledge to alternative funding models and tax regimes that European countries have adopted to combat Hollywood’s dominance.
- Feature development workshops: There will be two script/development workshops and up to 4 hours 1.1 mentoring during this period. Students on the part-time route will have the opportunity to collaborate on productions being filmed by full-time students during this period.
- Practicum: This double module is where theory and practice come together in the production and postproduction of a feature length project.
- FM7001 From Script to Screen – low budget production techniques (Workshop): This module will introduce and explore practical and creative techniques, approaches and strategies of low budget feature documentary and fiction production. This gives an over view where key skills are developed building on students’ previous knowledge. Each student will refine their personal project during this module by learning advanced editorial, scripting, stylistic approaches to feature film production.
- FM7002 From Pitch to Production - the international film business (Context): To compete in the global film business low budget practitioners will be required to understand the historical development business systems, procedures and models that influence the contemporary global film business. This model will allow filmmakers to understand how and why the Hollywood model still dominates feature film production.
- FM7003 Planning for Success – pre-production (Workshop): This module builds on the first two modules to give students the ability to further develop/rework/alter their main project in the light of the insights into low budget cinema techniques and how the international film business operates.
- FM7004 Finding an Audience – distribution techniques (Context): This module will give the students a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of contemporary marketing theory and practice as applied to film. The module will introduce traditional marketing theories and strategies on marketing communications, consumer behaviour, direct marketing and customer relationship marketing. It will then update these approaches with a focus on digital marketing techniques that use social networks to build networks of advocates prior to release that can produce a marketing momentum that allows low budget films to compete against Hollywood’s blockbuster marketing clout.
- FM7005 Production & Postproduction (Practicum): This module is the culmination of the previous four modules. In this 16 week module students will turn their projects into a feature length production, building on the insights they have learnt over the course. The projects will normally need to be completed to an ‘off-line’ standard with a stereo mix.
Students should expect to work 12-14 hour days for 6 days a week when filming and editing. It is expected that most productions will involve 4-6 week for principal photography.
The projects will then go into a period of editing of 10-12 weeks to arrive at a version of the film that is suitable for screening to distributors and agencies to seek further completion funding.
Teaching Methods and Resources
This MA is taught in an executive format of intensive workshops and seminars. Students will be based at BSU premises in Bristol at the University’s Corsham Court site in Wiltshire.
These offer studio facilities latest and the latest editing software, lights and video cameras including Sony F3 and Canon DSLR 5D and 7D, together with first class tutorial and lecture rooms.
Our assumption is that students taking this programme are committed to the working in the feature film industry as creative filmmakers who understand that a detailed knowledge of the film business will be central to their future success as is a strong sense of story telling. The structure and aims of the course provide a route to exploiting film assets in global markets as well as using a low budget feature to prove your skills as a long- form filmmaker.
This experience will lead some producers and directors into contracts on other films, TV drama or drama documentaries. Producers will build up a series of skills, contacts, and experience that will allow them to develop subsequent projects with greater support.
Other students may wish to pursue academic work as lecturer and practitioners. Another career route open to graduates will be to use their subsequent project as part of a creative PhD at BSU or other bodies. Other careers can involve working with arts organisations like the BFI, Creative England, regional screen agencies such as Film London or South West Screen.
Students will be assessed through continuous assessment. Assessment tasks will be varied , including group presentations, script development evaluations, industry reports, production folders, marketing reports and feature film project.
Your final mark for the production module will reflect the quality of the final submission and amount of input you have put into the combined project either as a producer or director. Your tutors will evaluate your creative and physical input to the project and your course based on your journals, tutorials, other students’ submissions and any other submissions. In this sense a well-produced project can be awarded a distinction to the producer even if the director achieves a pass for his or her work.
Applicants to the twelve month programme must have a script or treatment, which in the opinion of BSU, is at pre-pre-production at the point of interview. If the script or treatment requires any significant extra work, or an extended filming schedule, the applicant will be offered a place on the 24 month version of the programme where it will be responsibility of the applicant to work with the development manager to develop the project so it can be approved for production.