What you will study
The course is structured along these key themes:
Week 1: Introduction and origins of film
The course begins with looking at what early pioneers in the UK and France discovered about the potentialities of time, space, and the frame in very short films. Key texts are from the French Lumière brothers’ collection and British filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon. You'll look at people, faces and places, money and business and the conservation of film.
Week 2: Time in Cinema
From early pioneers and the single 1-minute take, to longer experiments with duration, the use of temporal markers, the different ways of manipulating film story-time against the ‘time of the viewer’, you'll explore Sarah Kozloff 's ‘Five Types of Story Time’. Time is the fundamental building block of film, its primary material, and this week’s study will illustrate its significance in relation to the key techniques of film such as editing, mise-en-scène and sound, with examples from the early pioneers of film, and some key examples from the short film set texts.
Week 3: Reality and fiction
You'll examine how film mobilises the real in its stories; how fictional characters are represented, but from within the real world. You'll ask questions such as: ‘How do we know or how can we infer that a person is a character, and not a passer-by? How do characters engage with the world – by looking at it, conversing with it and moving through it?
Week 4: Showing and Hiding: secrets and surprises in filmmaking
This week looks closer at the ways in which stories withhold and reveal information. You will explore how filmmakers frame information in or out of view; how they use ‘offscreen’ space; mobilise the camera and lighting around ‘hiding’ and ‘revealing’, and how these relate to the role of sound.
Week 5: Places and Stories
You'll consider the relationship of specific places to certain types of story and story situation; how places are shot, lit, framed in order to produce particular effects, the creation of place through soundscapes, the filming of real places/ the recreation of same.
Week 6: Widening the focus
You'll conclude the course by opening out the study of the set films to consider them in their social and cultural production context.
The key film texts you'll study in this course are:
- Boys Scrambling for Pennies (Esme Collings, 1896)
- Two films by the Lumière Brothers (France, 1895–1896)
- A short film by early British filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon (UK, 1897–1901)
- 10 Bob in Winter (Lloyd Reckord, 1963)
- Le Pain et la Rue (Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 1970)
- The Sandman (Paul Berry, UK, 1992)
- Gasman (Lynne Ramsay, UK, 1998)
- Fry-up (Charlotte Regan, 2017)
You will learn
After completing this course you will have gained:
Knowledge and understanding of the:
- relationship between cinema and society.
- four principal areas of: framing; genre and mise-en-scène; the relationship between sound and image and word and image; editing, and their associated technical vocabularies.
- main approaches from film studies.
Cognitive skills with the ability to:
- understand and use key concepts and critical vocabulary from film and cinematic studies when engaging with a visual medium.
- use examples, illustrations and case studies when assessing an argument.
- reflect on your standpoint and the standpoint of others with respect to the content discussed in the course.
Key skills with the ability to:
- effectively communicate information accurately and appropriately to the subject, purpose and context.
- communicate with and learn from others in an online environment.
- use feedback and self-reflection to improve own learning.
Practical and professional skills with an:
- ability to plan, study and manage a sequence of work that meets a deadline.
- understanding of future study opportunities.
This course has relevance for those interested in working in film and the media. It teaches skills of visual and critical analysis, self-reflection, time management, and engaging in forums.
Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a Study Adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.
If you have a disability
The module is delivered online/onscreen and the material is visually rich, using video and audio. Descriptions of visual elements (including transcripts) will be provided where appropriate. Visually impaired students may therefore find an external study helper useful in order to achieve some learning outcomes.