This course will enable you to develop film production skills with both digital and analogue equipment, as well as knowledge of the theories of contemporary cinema. The focus is placed firmly on developing clear and simple storytelling techniques that go beyond arbitrary formal categorisations of drama, documentary or genre. The course takes its inspiration from forms of cultural production that have challenged conformity, including the work of artists, musicians, painters and performers, and the movements of Italian neo-realism and the developing cinemas of Africa, Latin America, South Korea and Iran.
You will study the basic principles of filmmaking, develop an understanding of the nature and potential of visual storytelling, and discover the importance of sound, lighting and the screenplay. You will also gain a sound knowledge of theories and ideas that can help in the interpretation of your own work and that of other filmmakers. You will produce a portfolio of moving-image projects to illustrate your technical ability in cinematography, sound recording, editing and writing/direction.
You will be able to use high-definition digital video camcorders, DSLRs and Macs running Final Cut Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud to apply classical and independent principles with contemporary technology; 8mm, super8 and 16mm film cameras are also available to explore analogue forms of filmmaking (students who wish to use our analogue cameras will have to cover their own stock and processing costs).
Film production projects, critical journal, essays, and seminar presentations.
Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, the work placement is covered by a student's tier 4 visa. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement.
This programme takes a project-led, practice-based approach to studying for an MA in Film Directing (Documentary) which integrates practical film making with analysis of contemporary film practice. Students choose to make a creative documentary or a non -fiction film which defies genre definition and pushes the boundaries of narrative. We develop these through workshops and tutorials. Our students work within an integrated framework that helps them question the form of their films and enables them to find the right language for their storytelling.
The programme encourages ways of working as a film community that foster the important exchange of ideas, with inspiration from international visiting film makers through Scottish Documentary Institute and support from our team of documentary practicioners. All tutors are top professionals currently working within the industry as directors, producers, editors, cinematographers or sound designers. A newly built Avid edit teaching space, and a new screening space helps us encourage a fresh approach to emerging technologies.
Graduate films do well internationally regularly winning BAFTAs, RTS Awards and awards at international festivals. Over the last five years students have received an Oscar nomination for an MA film made here and an Oscar shortlist for a film made by a recent graduate. We work closely with the Scottish Documentary Institute, the University’s internationally-acclaimed research centre in documentary film making.
The aim of the Film Directing programmes at ECA is to:
This programme is project-led and delivered through workshops and regular individual tutorials. It integrates practical studio work with theoretical and written studies from the Screen cultures course (see separate description) which is run independently from the Film Department.
The first semester, Design Studio is organised round a series of micro-films which lead to a growing awareness of film language and enhancement of technical skills to creatively support filmic vision. Cinematography and sound workshops are delivered by visiting lecturers. Directorial voice is built up also through tutorials in which an idea for a graduating film is developed and evolved. Awareness of current international documentary practice is built through regular seminars and screenings, collaborations with Film Festivals such as Take One Action and also supported by Scottish Documentary Institute. This is also to inspire students to push boundaries in their approach to narrative structure and visual language and not to get locked in conventional approaches. We want to encourage bold work that takes risks. At the end of the first semester all students pitch their films using a trailer or short excerpt from their research material. They also develop a treatment with feedback from tutorials.
Semester two is spent preparing and shooting the graduate film and is backed up with edit tutorials as well as project support from weekly meetings with a tutor. Students also receive seminars in production process including contracts.
Semester three is when the film is edited and finished with input from group crits, tutorials. Students also attend or often volunteer with Edinburgh Film Festival and the Edinburgh Pitch in order to observe and engage with key players from the international documentary world through hearing feedback from commissioning editors.
Alongside the ECA learning structure, students also have a pool of potential collaborators from Screen Academy Napier including the possibility of working with cinematographers, editors and producers.
Our students go on to a wide range of roles, including producer, director, writer, production or location manager, researcher, editor, assistant director, cinematographer, or journalist. Graduates have found work directing for the BBC and making work internationally for top broadcasters and film funds. Related fields include advertising, community films, academia or film development agencies.
MA/MFA Film Directing has been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick, the industry kitemark of quality, following a rigorous assessment process by experts working in the Creative Industries. The Creative Skillset Tick is awarded to practice-based courses which best prepare students for a career in the industry. Screen Academy Scotland is one of only 3 Screen Academies in the UK along with National Film School and London Film School.
This course provides the opportunity for you to develop as a thinking practitioner of film-making or television programme-making, someone who is able to innovate while questioning and interrogating existing values and traditions. The emphasis is firmly on practical film-making and television production work, underpinned with contextual theory throughout, engaging with contemporary issues and emerging trends in film and television production, as well as established film/television theories and practices.
The first two semesters of study provide a range of modules which will allow you to develop your film/television “craft skills” – this may include work with camera, lighting, sound, editing, directing and producing – while working on short film/TV projects of your own devising. There will be opportunities to collaborate with other students, and you will be encouraged to make contact with, and work with, contributors (e.g. interviewees, actors) from outside of the university. You will also develop your skills as an academic researcher by carrying out research which feeds directly into your film projects.
The course culminates in the Masters Project, where you will be the key creative leader of a film or television production, taking on the role of producer or director.
In a typical week, a full-time student on this course will have up to ten hours of class time which will be a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical workshop sessions. Most course modules will blend these different teaching methods within a given timetabled session, so there will be plenty of variety.
In lectures, you will typically be given ‘food for thought’ in relation to your own project ideas. In workshop sessions you will get to practice film-making techniques related to your own project work needs. In seminars you will share ideas and discuss with tutors and fellow students. In tutorials you will have one-to-one or small group discussion about your works in progress.
The general flow of the course for a full time student is to start with production skills, research skills and scriptwriting in the first semester. In the second semester you move on to a small personal project which will combine all that you have learned from these three areas. In the final semester, you bring it all together in a personal film/TV production project which is seen as the culmination of your studies.
Part-time students experience exactly the same course modules and course content, but necessarily broken down into smaller groups of modules.
The course is built upon negotiated production work, which means you get to propose and develop your own ideas for film and television. The teaching staff are experienced with production across documentary, drama and social action production, and will guide you according to your ambitions, skills and needs.
There is always the opportunity to work on ‘live’ project briefs, which can be used as the basis of a module project, or alternatively as an extra-curricular experience which informs your development on the course and allows you to network with students on related courses.
The course is taught in the School of Media, which houses a three-camera live television studio, fifteen editing suites with Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut Pro X and other professional software packages, and a sound-recording/foley production suite. It also has an equipment store from which you can borrow all the camera, sound, lighting and other equipment you need to produce your work.
The course teaching team includes four active doctoral or postdoctoral researchers – Adam Kossoff, Tracy McCoy, Phil Nichols and Gavin Wilson – whose interests include documentary film, social action video, screenwriting and adaptation, and cinematography. They are all qualified higher education teachers, and have many years of experience of teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level. They are also experienced film and programme makers.
Our students and graduates have a track-record of success in competitions and festivals, such as the prestigious Royal Television Society Student Awards, the Midland Movies awards, and the Business Disability Forum's Technology Taskforce Film Festival.