Lights, camera, lectures: Spotlight on studying film at university - Getting Into University - Student - The Independent

Lights, camera, lectures: Spotlight on studying film at university

Practical training in documentary and film making is providing students with a trusted route into the industry

While for decades the route into a job on a film-set began for many as a tea boy, runner or secretary, these days there are plenty of academic pathways into the same career. Many universities run undergraduate courses in film studies, which are often heavily slanted towards production skills, full of practical elements, and designed with the help of professionals working behind cameras themselves.

One such course is the Bachelors in film production at the University for the Creative Arts' Farnham campus, where Claire Barwell is the course leader. "Our students come to make films, documentary and fiction, and work in a team, taking on specialist craft roles, including editing, cinematography, sound, production design and producing," she says. "At one point in the course each student goes into one of those areas in more detail."

The Farnham course takes around 90 students a year, for which the competition is quite stiff. But the academic bar (240 UCAS points, equivalent to three grade-Cs at A Level) is not the only requirement. "We are looking for people who are curious about the world and who have some experience of film making and can talk about what they have done," says Barwell, a comment linked to the element of the course where students study and think about the theory of film.

Graduates from the Farnham course tend to go in a number of directions when they finish. "Some go to a production house in Soho; others straight on to a set, to work in the camera or sound department," says Barwell. "Or they get a job as an assistant director, and work their way up, or go into location management."

But we don't have to take Barwell's word for the success of the course. The achievements of recent graduates speak for themselves. One such graduate, from the class of 1996, is directing the remake of Godzilla; while others have gone on to work in varying roles, on the current James Bond hit, Skyfall, Tim Burton's Frankenweenie and the Harry Potter series.

What's more, over the years, there have been three alumni from UCA Farnham who have won Oscars. Many more have picked up BAFTAs and other international awards for their films and animations.

UCA is only one of nearly 50 universities and other arts institutions with undergraduate courses centred on film production, about half of whom are members of an umbrella body, the National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image (nahemi.org). This organisation includes some of the most established names in the field, such as Bournemouth University, the Royal College of Art and a handful of London film establishments.

But just as important as choosing the right university is selecting the right course. For example, at Bath Spa University, the department of film and media production oversees three undergraduate courses, but only one of them is specifically tailored to provide an entry into the film industry. The three courses are: media communications, film and screen studies, and creative media practice. The first is close to a general media studies course; the second is predominantly based on the academic study of film, with some practical elements on film production and events management; and the third is the one that is 90 per cent based on working in film. It is hands-on from the outset. "The students start by making short films of five to 15 minutes," says head of department Dr Terry Rodgers. "In so doing they start learning the crafts, including sound, lighting script writing and camera work."

There are about 25 students a year on this course. The third year of which is spent working within a commercial company, set up by the university, called Arts Work Media. Significantly, this is based not at the university's Bath site, but in Bristol.

The aim is for the students to spend their final year working on a series of real commissions for firms in the west of England. For example, last year's cohort of third year students made a series of films about new books, for a local publisher.

"What's good about it is that it's located in a creative hub that contains lots of small creative industries," explains Rodgers. "Here they can imbibe the commercial atmosphere rather than being stuck on a campus. And by the end of the year, they are media savvy, with a knowledge of how the industry works."

And that sounds like as good a wrap as any for a course that's been designed to help people take their first steps in the film world.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week