Masters degrees in Film Directing offer advanced training in the skills to manage the logistics of film production, including management of staff and equipment.
Taught MA and MFA courses are typical for this subject, though research oriented MRes and MPhil programmes may be available at some institutions. Entry requirements normally include an appropriate undergraduate degree such as Film Studies.
Courses in this field provide you with a deep understanding of the significant role a director has in relation to other crew members on a given production. Through applied practise, you will develop your skills and technical abilities, advancing your knowledge in the operations and logistics of Film Directing.
Adaptation and collaboration are key components of these courses. You will work with a range of writers, producer, actors, designers and technicians on project for various kinds of film. This could include science and natural history documentaries, feature films, television commercials and television programmes, and even journalism.
Your expertise will cover a range skills, and will therefore make you suitable for other careers such as cinematography, stage management, set management and exhibition curation.
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.
Who will teach you on this course?
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.
Film-maker and editor Andrew Webber has had his films screened at international festivals in the UK, Jamaica and West Africa. He says, “The University has been extremely supportive, through my studies and after graduation.”
Niki Gandy has pursued a teaching career, and now teaches photography and art in a High School. Calling herself a “proud graduate” of our related undergraduate course, she says, “I chose it for its practical content and which helped furnish me with numerous transferable skills necessary to forge my career in teaching. Almost a decade on, my lecturers continue to provide me with support and guidance - I feel certain that my relationship with the university will continue for many years to come.”
Actor and director Brian Duffy, creator of TV series Small World – a comedy series about a group of deaf flatmates which has been shown on TV and online – says, “Studying at the University of Wolverhampton helped me with networking and organisation – especially as filmmakers came to Wolverhampton for Deaffest, the UK’s leading deaf film and arts festival. My lecturer could also sign which was a great help and a huge weight off my shoulders – I could talk to her one-to-one. That’s something I never had the pleasure of pre-university.”
Lauren Shinner has been working in media production ever since graduating. She says, “My time at the University was invaluable, I wouldn't be where I am today without it. The tutors were always helpful and push students to do their best with plenty of support and understanding and the course prepares you well for your prospective career. I've gone on to work as a video editor in education, ran my own media business and have done videos for high end charities and new bands, and am now working in media in another area. Without my degree, none of this would have been possible.”
This postgraduate course prepares you for work in film and television and related fields by bringing together the key artistic disciplines and skills needed to make high quality filmed drama. You will explore in detail Stanilavisky's unique scene study methodology which lies at the heart of Drama Centre’s conservatoire training. From storyboard to working on the subtext with the actors on set you will be enabled to develop your own distinct artistic voice.
At the heart of MA Screen: Directing is the growth of individual creativity, achieved through constant opportunities for working on camera-based projects with colleagues from other pathways. You will work on two filmed productions, in our film studio and on location. Supported by a professional producer, director of photography and editor. You will take an active part in a Mike Leigh type devising project where you will help shape the story's stimulated by the characters that the actors develop over nine weeks of intense rehearsal. You will understand the rhythm of a working film set and develop the confidence to use your own voice on future projects, confident in the knowledge that you know how to work creatively with actors. You will be given in depth preparation for the profession including interview technics and wide range of lectures from visiting professionals, such as agents, casting directors, working producers and directors.
MA Screen: Directing lasts 45 weeks over 12 months and is structured as units - class-based to begin with, but increasingly project-geared over time. This postgraduate course is intensive. You'll be expected to commit 35 hours per week to classes, rehearsals and shoots, and to your own independent preparation and learning.
Students who come to MA Screen: Directing expect a focused experience with a high level of autonomous learning. The MA course's practical elements contribute to the intensity of the experience, sharpening your professional ability to deliver on time, on budget and at an appropriate level.
MA Screen: Directing has a small intake. It collaborates closely with MA Screen: Acting to give you a broader understanding of the needs of the actor. Because we believe empathy with acting and actors is an integral part of directing, the early part of the MA course in particular engages with the discipline of acting.
Traditionally, screen director training fails to address the challenges of working with performers. Our Directing Pathway confronts that challenge while developing your individual approach and creative voice. The pathway features a programme of acting skills, an extended programme of directing skills, two filmed drama projects, a devised project, and an extended programme of professional preparation.
The MA course culminates in a series of short film projects produced in collaboration with the student actors. Projects are screened for an invited industry audience that includes agents and casting directors
The MA Filmmaking (Directing Fiction) is the premier place to develop your skills as a director, working on a range of projects from personal ‘essay’ films to large-scale shoots with professional actors and feature crew.
This Masters, a pathway of the MA Filmmaking, will enable you to gain a full understanding of how to collaborate on all stages of filmmaking, from scripting and pre-production through shoot, post-production and marketing/exhibition of your work. It will build your skills and confidence in expressing your unique vision and conveying it to your team.
The programme is housed in a new purpose-built media facility equipped with state-of-the art teaching spaces including film and photography studios equipped with Arri lighting and Greenscreen, Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Film Editing, Animation, Digital Special Effects, Pro Tools Audio Postproduction and Foley suites.
We have extensive production facilities and informal rehearsal and meeting spaces where you can discuss and collaborate with scriptwriters, actors, producers and your shoot team.
We also have established relations with casting directors, agents, production designers and other professionals who will both advise you and provide their skills to enhance your productions.
You work on at least one film per term in your specialist role, culminating in a major production towards the end of the degree. In addition to your specialist area, you attend classes in related disciplines such as Film Directing and Editing and collaborate with students across specialisations on film projects. This framework is designed to stimulate collaborative practice by providing you with a breadth of filmmaking knowledge combined with a high level of expertise in your chosen filmmaking discipline.
Experienced tutors enhance the flow of your individual research, experimentation and artistic achievement. The guests have all provided expert guidance at Goldsmiths.
For two terms you will spend a full day a week in specialised contact with your specific programme convenor, plus a further day in Screen Lab working with colleagues across the programme in a Talent Campus-style project-led learning structure with:
You will also have a variety of research projects to undertake, as well as other module options.
The third term will be taken up with your final substantive project, and in writing up a process paper on your work and research over the year.
You will also advance your collaborative skills by working in teams with fiction and documentary producers and directors and sound and edit students, on a variety of projects and at least three scheduled films across the year.
You will leave the programme with a diverse portfolio of moving-image work that may span a variety of formats – music video, web series drama, documentary, campaign/commercial, experimental art pieces and feature-scale short fiction films.
Screen School options
As well as your Cinematography specialism, you will undertake three short courses to enhance your other skills and critical approaches.
If you are passionate about fashioning an exciting career for yourself as a cinematographer in an environment that promotes innovative filmmaking, this course is for you.
On completing the programme you will be equipped to enter the global job market, armed with an enhanced understanding of your practical, intellectual and creative capacities as a cinematographer.
Possibly the most important skill we furnish you with is the rigorous discipline of working collaboratively under pressure as part of a creative team on challenging projects.
In addition to your practical filmmaking skills, we enable you to develop a variety of transferable intellectual, organisational and communication skills to equip you for a broad range of employment opportunities across the arts and media landscape (film, television, online, the creative arts, advertising and related hybrid forms).
Recent alumni are active in the film, media and cultural industries around the world as:
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.
The Director is central to the creative process in media production and this course has been designed to build and develop your knowledge of the industry, enabling you to step up to the challenge of delivering winning productions. This hands-on course provides many opportunities for practical production across platforms and genres. It will enhance your storytelling skills and build your technical understanding of film, television and transmedia production, developing advanced skills as a director in line with current industry practice.
The Faculty of Media & Communication encourage dynamic collaborations between students across courses. Working with the producing, scriptwriting, cinematography, sound and editing students you will create a showcase of your skills as a visual, creative storyteller. Many of these collaborations have continued beyond the course as students set up their own production companies. This comprehensive course will equip you with the skills to understand and manage the entire production process, from effective planning and pre-visualisation to overseeing creative post-production work alongside our editing students.
Under the guidance of experienced media professionals, you will develop your own directorial flair and style, and will gain a sound theoretical grounding of the social, cultural and intellectual context for media production work. The final production project will allow you to use the technical and directorial skills you have developed to mastermind your own portfolio of work in collaboration with other students within The Faculty of Media & Communication. As an alternative, you can choose a research-based option to undertake a detailed study of an aspect of directing.
You may have an undergraduate qualification in a related subject or may be able to show your suitability for this programme of study through associated work-experience or evidence of and outputs from other related activities.
In your first year you are introduced to facets of motion picture production within your chosen specialisation, in second year you assume responsibility for the creative and technical production of a major project at a professional level.
The Graduate Diploma of Film and Television is an exit qualification for students who have successfully completed the first 100 points of the course. Applicants holding a Graduate Diploma of Film and Television, or equivalent, may apply for direct entry to Year 2 of the equivalent stream within the course.
This course can be undertaken in one of two specialised direction streams:
If you have an enquiring mind and a highly visual outlook then documentary filmmaking is an inspired choice of profession. Documentary at the VCA will challenge you to create critically reflective films that capture a distinct place and time in our society.
The Narrative specialisation emphasises the screenwriting, direction and editing of narrative film and television. You are encouraged to be innovative and experimental, explore ideas and develop the expertise to express them to an audience through a visual medium.
The Master of Directing for Performance develops your in-depth knowledge and skills of directing and provides a framework to identify and reflect on your own practice as a director, performance-maker, collaborator and researcher. The program opens up a broad range of individual career pathways into contemporary performance practice through directing and performance making, practice-led research, and applied performance in intercultural and community engagement contexts.
The VCA offers a unique environment for you to develop an individual approach to directing live performances and creative leadership in an environment of interdisciplinary and intercultural learning. You will experience a wide range of collaborative opportunities and leadership roles with designers, actors, production teams, writers, dramaturgs and choreographers at the VCA, as well as a range of creative encounters with local, national and international artists, organisations and communities.
The program is delivered through lab-based workshops, seminars, lectures, self-directed exercises, tutorials, practical master classes, and national and international internships. It balances theory and practice across four semesters, to allow for progression from the intensively-taught, skills-based first year, to a more autonomous, project-orientated second year which culminates in an independent, practice-led research performance project or written dissertation. The program actively encourages intercultural and international training and research experiences through fieldwork in the second year of the course.