BA Film Studies and East Asian Studies / Course details
Year of entry: 2020
Course unit details:
Video Project 1: Documentary
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
This course is designed to teach students different documentary styles and modes of production by integrating theory and analysis with practical work. The course runs in collaboration with a cultural partner in the city to commission short student films that respond to an external brief. Students work creatively to this brief, receiving practical training on industry level camera, sound and editing equipment whilst developing their critical investigation of documentary modes, narrative form and the ethics of storytelling.
Students work in smaller production groups under the close supervision and guidance of the tutor to develop, pitch, research and produce 5-minute films. Each student will be required to carry out a variety of functions which could include director, camera-person, sound-person, editor, production assistant and researcher. Through the partnership and filmmaking process students learn how to respond creatively to a professional brief and the responsibilities and sensitivities of working with communities and archives.
The course is preparatory for third year courses in film and screen studies, including documentary and docufiction film practice.
Available on which programme(s)?
L2 Drama, Drama and Screen, Drama and English, Music and Drama
Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)?
Any L1 Drama Practice module – Performance Practices 1; Performance Practices 2
Any L2 Drama or Film Core Study module - Theatres of Modernity ; Performance after Modernity; Screen, Culture and Society.
· To give students an introduction to documentary film preproduction, production and postproduction
· To learn to conduct practice-based research on documentary film by drawing on documentary film history and theory
· To equip students with a grounding in how to work responsibly and effectively with cultural partners, communities and archives
· To stimulate students creatively to produce short films with real world impact and purpose
Indicative syllabus (representative only – all of the topics listed below may not be covered every year).
Week 1 - Film brief and introduction to the course - Why do we document?
Week 2 – Introduction to camera and sound
Week 3 – The grammar of documentary film
Week 4 – Whose film is it anyway? Personal testimony and agency within documentary film
Week 5 – Film pitching session and techniques of observation
Week 6 – Reading week. The students are expected to use parts of their reading week for shooting
Week 7 – Editing software workshop
Week 8 – Shooting week and trouble-shooting workshop
Week 9 – Shooting week
Week 10 –Edit week 1: Creating a rough assembly and Reflexive Essay Writing workshop
Week 11 –Edit week 2: Final cut of film
Week 12 –Screening and appraisal of documentary films
Teaching and learning methods
The course will be taught by weekly practical classes, providing students with an opportunity to learn filmmaking via hands-on work with a camera, editing software and groupwork. Additional film screenings will be arranged as appropriate.
The course unit will be complemented by a Blackboard site that conforms to minimum requirements including a course handbook, production handbook, weekly course breakdown, provision of reading material, reading lists. Supplementary material from workshops will be added as appropriate. The blackboard site will be prepared and available to students at least one week prior to the beginning of the first teaching week each semester.
Knowledge and understanding
· Demonstrate a basic contextual understanding of documentary film theory
· Demonstrate a capacity to use documentary film production processes in producing their own films
· Demonstrate an understanding of how to work to a professionally set brief
· Demonstrate an understanding of how to establish and maintain relationships with individual, community and institutional participants in filmmaking and research practice
· Demonstrate an understanding of the critical issues surrounding agency and storytelling, particularly in relation to marginalised voices and under-represented communities
· Demonstrate their abilities in critical documentary film analysis
· Demonstrate an ability to use reflective practice in order to develop and evaluate their own practical work in film-making
· Demonstrate their skills in preproduction of documentary film
· Demonstrate their skills in production of documentary film, including the use of industry-standard camera and sound equipment
· Demonstrate their skills in postproduction of documentary film, including the use of Adobe premiere editing software
Transferable skills and personal qualities
· Work to a professionally set brief
· Demonstrate a good level of interpersonal communication and team-working skills
· Demonstrate creative group-work skills (problem-solving, thinking innovatively, drawing on creative approaches of others, evaluating creative approaches of others, giving and receiving feedback, time-keeping)
· Use effective leadership and group-work skills to solve problems and sustain a creative process
· Perform with confidence and precision for specific audiences/contexts, making use of diverse creative approaches and media as appropriate to the module)Exercise ethical and social responsibility when working with externals partners, individuals and communities
- Group/team working
- ¿ Ability to work independently and as part of a group to conceive, plan, undertake and evaluate original, well-developed responses to briefs (overseeing a creative process from inception through production, post-production and evaluation) ¿ A good level of skill in managing a group-work process ¿ leadership skills, ideas-sharing, giving and receiving feedback, taking initiative, negotiation, flexibility, compromise, collaboration, making contributions, reliability, time-keeping et cetera
- ¿ Maintaining professional standards as regards self-presentation, including ability to speak to an audience with confidence and precision, and to effectively adapt presentation and material to specific contexts
- Oral communication
- ¿ A good level of skill in managing a group-work process ¿ leadership skills, ideas-sharing, giving and receiving feedback, taking initiative, negotiation, flexibility, compromise, collaboration, making contributions, reliability, time-keeping et cetera ¿ Maintaining professional standards as regards self-presentation, including ability to speak to an audience with confidence and precision, and to effectively adapt presentation and material to specific contexts
- ¿ Entry level industry-standard training in camera, sound and editing software
|Written assignment (inc essay)||40%|
|Practical skills assessment||60%|
Formative or Summative
Group film - written
Reflective essay - written
Ongoing feedback during workshops –peer to peer and tutor to student - oral
Barnouw, E. 1993. Documentary: a history of the non-fiction
Barsam, R. 1992. Nonfiction Film: a critical history
Curran Bernard, S. 2007. Documentary Storytelling: making stronger and more dramatic nonfiction films
Quinn, J. 2015. Adventures in the Lives of Others: Ethical Dilemmas in Factual Filmmaking
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Practical classes & workshops||33|
|Independent study hours|
|Johannes Sjoberg||Unit coordinator|