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MCH2082 : Making a Short Documentary

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Alastair Cole
  • Technician: Mr Matt Robinson
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This practice-based module builds on the experience of the level 5 module, Starting Out in Filmmaking, and gives the students the opportunity to develop their cinematographic, editing, and sound skills through a series of filmic exercises. These exercises constitute necessary training and preparation for level 6 modules, Film Practice Project and Independent Documentary Filmmaking. Students are also introduced to the role of the producer, and film festivals as a key exhibition and audience space. The distinctive feature of this level 5 module is that is develops camera and editing skills in a context of critical enquiry about the social world. Students work in small groups to produce a short non-fiction film and they also individually submit a production critique.

This module aims to:

1.Develop a cinematographic sensibility, an understanding of the aesthetic and ethical dimension of the film image.
2. Develop high level of proficiency in editing sequences based on an appreciation of time, rhythm and fundamentals of short storytelling.
3. Develop an understanding of the expressive possibilities of naturalistic sound in the construction of cinematic realism.
4. Develop an understanding of role of the producer in documentary film through all stages of production, including release and the ecology of the international film festival network.

Outline Of Syllabus

Themes and subjects covered can include:

- The art and poetics of short documentary storytelling.
- Documentary subject development and research
- Working in a small documentary crew
- The aesthetics and craft of cinematography.
- The aesthetics and craft of editing
- Advanced sound recording, and audio mixing.
- Production skills
- Rough Cutting.
- Fine Cutting.
- Advanced post production.
- Outputting and Delivery

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00Concepts, theoretical underpinnings and debates
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical83:0024:00Studio and field practice
Guided Independent StudySkills practice138:0038:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyProject work154:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops43:0012:00Screenings and discussions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module will be delivered through a combination of lectures that set out key theories and concepts, practice based sessions and workshops based on working through the implication of key readings for practice. This will enable students to achieve Learning Outcomes 1 - 5.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Design/Creative proj2A70Students work in small groups to produce a short non-fiction film (approx. 5 mins).
Reflective log2A30A 1500 words production critique that provides critical reflections on the filmmaking process (individual submission)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The rationale for the assessments is to enable the students to demonstrate their intellectual grasp of non-fiction film theory and aesthetics and to illustrate this through the production of a short film. Given the emphasis on practice, the production of the film forms the major part of the assessment, but the production critique provides the students an opportunity to articulate the theoretical and methodical considerations that informed their practice. Students marks for the creative project is made up of both and group and individual role marks. Peer assessment may be used to discriminate individual contributions in this module. Any peer assessment used is not designed to assess quality of individual contributions to the group work but is designed to identify the quantity of work dedicated to the project. In essence this is a mechanism to identify students who have not made a full contribution to the group production.

Reading Lists