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MCH3010 : Observational Filmmaking

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ian McDonald
  • Lecturer: Dr Geetha Jayaraman
  • Technician: Mr James Davoll
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aim of this module is to develop the students understanding and skills to allow them to make a single authored documentary based on the aesthetics and practice of observational filmmaking. This module will build on the knowledge and skills attained in Stage 2 modules MCH2082 Making a Short Doc and MCH2002 Filmmaking: Ideas to Screen. Moreover, it is in this module that the students will move away from group production to individual independent filmmaking. This advanced project-led practice-based module gives the students the opportunity to develop their observational cinematographic and editing skills and make an observational documentary film. Students will also produce a written critical reflection on the process of making the film. Here, students will critically reflect on the form and content of both their own work and the work of others in the field.

This modules aims to:

1.       Critique a range of the technical, ethical, aesthetic and representational dynamics in observational filmmaking

2.       Apply advanced principles of observational cinematography and editing, using a range of footage (captured and archival) and synchronous and asynchronous sound, to produce an observational film.

3.       Develop students ability to critically reflect on their observational filmmaking skills.

Outline Of Syllabus

- different approaches to observational filmmaking – a historical and comparative overview.      
- Advanced principles and practices of observational cinematography and editing.
- Critical Theory and critical and creative reflective practice
- Principles and practices of reflective practice

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00Theoretical frameworks, concepts and debates
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading138:0038:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyProject work154:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops123:0036:00Student-led explorations of theory and practice
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module will be delivered through a combination of lectures that set out key theories and concepts and workshops based on working through the implication of key readings for practice. Practice based sessions on writing will enable students to achieve the critical reflection on skills.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Design/Creative proj1A7010 minute film submitted via a website
Report1A30Critical self-reflexive 1500 word written report
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment will enable students to demonstrate a critical understanding of varied approaches to observational cinema through a practice-led film project. It is an opportunity for students to present an integrated understanding of the relationship between observational film theory and film practices. Given the emphasis on practice, the production of the film forms the major part of the assessment, while the critical report provides the students an opportunity to place their journey on the film project within a historical and comparative context.

Reading Lists