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Online MA Film Practice: Q&A with the Course Leader

Online MA Film Practice: Q&A with the Course Leader

Looking to explore new filmmaking approaches? 

We spoke to MA Film Practice Course Leader Alex Nevill about how the course can help you explore filmmaking as an art form, work alongside other filmmakers online and gain the skills and experience you need to progress in the filmmaking industry. 

Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about your background? 

Alex: I'm a cinematographer and filmmaker based in Somerset, England. I work around the UK and internationally sometimes as well. Most of my work is highly collaborative, so I usually fulfill the role of Director of Photography with an emphasis on creative and artistic films. I've also directed a few of my own documentary projects over the years as well.

As MA Film Practice Course Leader, I've been quite involved in designing and developing the course, writing the module content and generally bringing the degree to life.AUB-staff---Alex-Nevill-350x197 

What can you tell us about the MA Film Practice? 

Alex: The course builds on the art school ethos and context at Arts University Bournemouth. We're interested in challenging established modes of making and thinking about film. It's aimed at students who already have some film experience or who have been exploring moving image in related areas like photography, fine art or media.  

The students that we're looking to attract are keen to push and develop their practice by exploring new creative approaches and ideas.  

The course follows a project-based learning model, with students working on a series of film projects in the first 18 months of the degree. This leads to the development and creation of the student's own thesis film in the later part of the course.  

Over the course of two years students are supported to develop and define their own career path and creative focus. The choice of emphasis and project is very open throughout the course. As well as directing documentary or independent fiction or artistic films, students could choose to explore a specific discipline like sound design, cinematography or editing.  

This would be supported through collaborative work during the course, regardless of what the student's background might be. We're looking to work with people that are keen to develop their creative voice, expand their body of work, and push their filmmaking into new areas of expression.  

What equipment do you need to succeed on the course? 

Alex: The type of tools and specific cameras and microphones you use will be highly dependent on your project. It’s down to students to source their own equipment, and we’re looking for a minimum of a separate camera and microphone set up.  

Luckily, with the digital revolution in the last decade or so, film tools have become incredibly accessible. Something like a basic digital SLR that's capable of shooting HD video would be our minimum camera requirement.  

It's important that you have an ability to change lenses and have full manual control of your camera so that you can really start to design the look of your images. 

Similarly for sound, you will need a separate audio recorder, such as a handheld device with a microphone. However, in certain situations, such as for documentaries, having an onboard microphone that attaches to the camera can be easier to use.  

It depends on your project, but that's a loose minimum specification. You can get in touch with our Course Adviser Team if you would like to discuss equipment requirements further.  

Can students collaborate online during the course? 

Alex: I think that for any filmmaker, collaboration is incredibly important. You can't make a film in a vacuum. You can't make a film in isolation. It's a collaborative art form. Even filmmakers who might be working in experimental approaches still rely on feedback and conversation and ultimately, an audience to see the film.  

Part of the course is supporting you to learn how to collaborate as a filmmaker and to develop a communication skill set or different approaches to communication with the people you might be working with.  

We would expect you to source collaborators and we can help you to identify how to do this. Wherever you're based in the world, there are likely to be other people around you who are interested in film as well. It could be a process of reaching out and finding some of those people and creating ways of working together or bringing people onto a project that you’ve designed for your thesis film toward the end of the course. 

We are also very open to collaboration with other students. There are a few projects during the course that have been designed to foster online collaboration too, which I think is really exciting. Collaboration online is definitely possible, and we encourage students to explore new ways of working together remotely.  

How much contact time is there? 

Courses are designed with approximately 20 hours of learning per week in mind, so you can balance studying alongside other commitments. They have been developed with flexibility at their core. The courses are part-time over two years, so you can fit them in alongside work or family responsibilities.  

Actual contact time will vary from module to module, and week by week. There's always a weekly seminar, which is an hour-long meeting with your tutor. This is an opportunity to ask questions, get individual feedback or support on your work.  

There are also online forums each week, as well as lectures and discussions, delivered by either the Course Leader, other members of staff or guest lecturers. There’s a lot to keep you busy! 

What are the career opportunities following an MA Film Practice? 

Alex: Throughout the course, students develop practical and creative skills that support them in experimenting with different types of materials, ideas or techniques in their work.  

Films are fundamentally only as good as the ideas that fuel them so students also are supported in gaining research and analytical skills to enhance their contextual, historical understanding of film as an art form, and how film is situated in relation to wider creative industries and visual culture. These ideas can then be brought in to strengthen and reinforce a particular practical approach that students might want to take to their work. 

As any filmmaker will attest, communication and collaboration are key skills. We encourage students to learn to synthesize their ideas in ways that others can understand, develop compelling project proposals, and bring them to life through collaboration. 

The course presents an opportunity to engage with an international network and further your filmmaking. Students and staff are joining from lots of different places in the world, which creates a diverse and wide-reaching range of perspectives on film that will be brought together in a critical online community that can help you to refine and build your filmmaking practice.  

So, there's a lot of different skills that you will gain through the degree itself. We are particularly looking to develop filmmakers who might seek to work in the independent sector, for example in documentary making or artistic filmmaking. 

We also want to support students interested in working in creative crew roles such as a cinematographer, editor, sound designer or logistical and research based industry positions. 

Similarly, if you're looking for an academic career, having a master's qualification is an important step towards that. 

Why study film online with AUB? 

Alex: I think AUB is a great place to study film and its actually one of the oldest and largest film schools in the UK.  

When developing this online course, I worked closely with staff who are involved with on-campus teaching and shared ideas about what has worked in the long history of teaching filmmaking at AUB.  

Creative industries are booming around the UK and Europe and in the wider world, particularly for film. If you look at the funding going into high-end TV and film production, it's not just recovered from pre-pandemic levels, it's exceeded them now.  

There’s growth in this area which means there's lots of opportunities for employment and to develop your voice as an artist. The MA Film Practice aims to help you get your foot in the door by building a portfolio of work and expanding your creative understanding of filmmaking. 

Thank you to Alex for sharing his insights into the course! 

Challenge established, mainstream modes of filmmaking with AUB Online’s MA Film Practice: 

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