I've long believed that universities are, at least potentially, the perfect environment to learn filmmaking. To be clearer, I am referring to filmmaking that seeks to have a conversation with history, culture and society, and not merely film history and culture. I've also believed for some time that British universities are missing a trick by not becoming involved in the production of feature-length content. I believe that partnerships with professional filmmakers can provide a means of expanding pedagogy of film practice beyond the classroom and also see universities provide a socially conscious model for commercial micro-budget feature filmmaking.
My recently completed doctoral thesis, which is the in process of being disseminated via a series of journal articles and conference papers, discusses these ideas at length. In my day job, as the BA Film course co-ordinator responsible for practice at the School of Film & Television (SoFT) at Falmouth University, I have been tasked with investigating the potential of my claims. I've been tasked with putting (not) my money where my mouth is regarding the commercial and pedagogical possibilities of such an undertaking. Thanks to SoFT, over the course of the academic year 2015-16, I will be overseeing a pilot Filmmaker In Residence project that will result in a professional filmmaker creating a feature film in partnership with the School and the University.
One of the reasons for the creation of this personal website now is to provide a platform for me to discuss my research and the experiences of this innovative, exciting and daunting project. I am grateful for the support of SoFT to expand my research beyond the theoretical and am excited to work with my constant collaborator Justin Doherty who will direct and produce the film, from a script I am writing.
If, nay when, it works, it will provide a much needed route for filmmakers seeking to make the step up to features from shorts or across to features from television, commercials etc. I also hope the project, beyond providing incredible opportunities for students in all departments and at all levels, will be able to address representation issues currently facing film and cinema, both in front of and behind the camera.
I will be updating the creative, logistical, pedagogical and industrial elements of the process as the pilot goes on.
This has been something I have been discussing with friends, colleagues and superiors since I made the step across from production and exhibition into academia. It is exciting that together with them I get to explore this idea and work with students on the creation of a feature film. It will be good to return to the filmmaking fray following my doctoral study and it will be great to do so with such a strong educational focus, which is how myself and Justin have always approached projects.
For now though this is just an initial piece of context for the project, which launched on Tuesday April 28th. Articles on the process will appear here and in the Screenwriting section of the website.