Feature Filmmaking

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How to Apply

An industry-focused education in the business and practice of modern low-budget feature filmmaking for fact or fiction.

Why study Feature Filmmaking?

The course is designed to give students an industry-focused education in the business and practice of modern low budget feature film production. The collaborative nature of modern film making means that this is a course for students with aspirations as writers, directors and producers who want to develop their skills for a career working on feature length documentaries or fiction. The course is taught by several of the team behind award winning feature film 'Sixteen' including Writer/Director Rob Brown (Course Leader).

Key Features

  • A unique chance to make your own feature film as part of a Masters degree.
  • Taught by active industry professionals with feature film experience.
  • Learn about the traditional and emerging routes and techniques to getting a film made and released.
  • An opportunity to pool your skills and resources with fellow filmmakers.

Course structure

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 your feature film project (although we are confident that many students will achieve this).

All students should graduate with a wealth of professional contacts, a stunning showreel, a fully developed feature film project and the knowledge and contacts how to get ahead in the film business.

This programme is an industry facing course designed to build and develop creative and associated business skills. Our belief is that only with a clear understanding of business and financial issues can filmmakers achieve their full creative potential.

There are two durations of the MAFM – full time over 12 months and part time over 24 months.

Modules

  • FM7001 Development: This module will introduce and explore practical and creative approaches to low budget feature production. It gives an overview of the issues and challenges, and develops key skills. Each student will refine their project during this module by learning and applying various strategies and techniques of feature film production. This module is designed to offer the cohort a clear and imaginative approach to low budget filmmaking including writing low budget and script development as well as introductions to budgeting/scheduling, casting and low budget film financing.
  • FM7002 Finance: To compete in the global film business low budget practitioners must understand the historical development of business systems, procedures and models that influence the contemporary global film business. This module will also include contemporary analysis of the film funding policies and structures of European nations as well as distribution strategies and mechanisms. Students will at the end of this module be able to navigate the different systems for both low budget, commercial and cultural film production so that they are able to understand and adapt to the future demands and needs of the industry.
  • FM7003 Pre-Production: 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. Industry standard software such as Final Draft and Movie Magic will be taught during this module.
  • FM7004 Audience: The British Film Institute has identified distribution and marketing (the process of finding audiences) as the key issues for UK feature films. It is these areas that determine whether they will make a return on investment. This module will give students a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of contemporary marketing as applied to film. The module will introduce traditional marketing theories and strategies regarding communications, consumer behaviour, direct and customer relations marketing. It will then update these approaches with a focus on digital marketing techniques. Crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter will be explored, enabling filmmakers to engage with audiences while the film is yet to be made.
  • FM7005 Production: In this module students will turn greenlit 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. It is expected that most productions will involve a maximum 18 days 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. Students whose projects were not greenlit must continue to develop their project by working on their script, shooting a trailer and casting actors, whilst also developing their skills by working on a greenlit project.

Course assessment

Assessment tasks will be varied including scriptwriting, production folders, audience building strategies and a feature film project.

To receive a masters degree in feature filmmaking you will demonstrate via coursework a detailed understanding of the process by which micro budget features are made and have a portfolio of project work that shows a creative mastery which matches your grasp of the film business. Your final mark for the feature component of the assessment will depend on the creativity of your work, your commitment to the project and demonstrated ability in your role.

The MA in Feature Filmmaking is hosted by Artswork Media, Bath Spa University’s media production business that offers experiential learning opportunities and professional development. Students also have access to the Newton Park Campus and its multi million pound Commons Building with state of the art studio production facilities as well as the university’s postgraduate campus at Corsham Court.

The degree programme is managed within the University’s School of Humanities & Cultural Industries and is taught from the Department of Film, Media and Creative Computing.

Teaching methods

This MA is taught through a combination of intensive workshops and seminars. The programme of study is designed to build on the applicant’s previous filmmaking experience and current professional practice.

Students will be based at BSU campuses at Paintworks in Bristol and Newton Park in Bath.

Paintworks offers a large production office, modern edit suites with the latest software, lights and video cameras including the Sony F3 (used on Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer and This is England 88) and Canon 7D (used on Lena Dunham’s SXSW award winner Tiny Furniture).

The Commons building at Newton Park offers state of the art studio production facilities that rival those offered by commercial broadcasters.

Application method

Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:

Telephone: (01225) 875624.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

For all enquiries about the course, please contact Rob Brown, Course Leader of MA Feature Filmmaking.

Telephone: (0)117 971 9292

Entry requirements

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.

Career opportunities

Our assumption is that students undertaking this programme are committed to the working in the film industry as creative filmmakers who understand that a detailed knowledge of the film business and a strong sense of storytelling are central to their future success. The course is designed to provide a route to using a low budget feature film to prove your skills as a long form filmmaker.

This experience may lead some producers and directors into work 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 industry support.

Other students may wish to pursue academic work as lecturer/practitioners. Another potential career route open to graduates will be to use their subsequent project as part of a creative PhD at BSU or another HEI. Other careers can involve working with arts organisations like the BFI, Creative England or regional screen agencies such as Film London.

What students say...

"The course has many opportunities for learning practical skills in creative and technical disciplines which attracted me to the course. I'm enjoying it very much so far and looking forward to continuing to expand my knowledge in film production" (Feng Qian)

"Personally, I learn by doing and have previously found that writing essays doesn't give me long term knowledge on the subject so I welcome the focus on scriptwriting, honing our pitching skills and creating industry standard production folders" (Gabby Hawes)

“The MA has allowed me to travel to Sheffield Doc Fest with my project and be mentored by industry professionals including BAFTA winning director Kim Longinotto” (Gustavo Contreras)