The Documentary Practice MA at Brunel is a modern and innovative course that draws on a dense network of organisations and individuals working in documentary today. The MA provides you with the space to engage with the documentary from a variety of traditions, and is structured to provide you with training and professional expertise in dominant/mainstream documentary production techniques, procedures and alternative traditions.Entry RequirementsA good honours degree in a relevant area such as film; television; media; or communications. Applicants with degrees in other disciplines will be considered if they can demonstrate sufficient academic experience in areas relevant to the subject. Applicants with relevant practical experience and/or professional qualifications will also be considered. Course AimsThis modern and innovative course draws on a dense network of organisations and individuals working in documentary today. The MA provides you with the space to creatively, practically and critically engage with the documentary from a variety of traditions, and is structured to provide you with training and professional expertise in dominant/mainstream documentary production techniques, procedures and alternative traditions. The dual focus of the course, allied with its non-prescriptive approach, makes it a unique place to develop your knowledge about the documentary. While the course is primarily oriented towards practice (approximately 70% practical, 30% theoretical) we believe that effective practice in whatever documentary traditions you choose to draw on and work with requires critical engagement, reflection and historical knowledge, if you are to fulfil your own potential, as well that of the documentary genre.Course ContentThe course is approximately 70% practice, 30% theory.
The course focuses on both mainstream and alternative documentary traditions. Few courses draw on the range of professional talent that this MA puts together as tutors. These tutors include directors such as Marc Isaacs (Lift, All White in Barking, Calias: The Last Border, Men of the City) and Sandhya Suri (I For India), Ken Fero (Injustice) and Kevin Hull (Malaria: Return To Fever Road and Einstein’s Brain) our Final Cut Pro editor Steve Stevenson who has worked on many award winning television documentary films and drama-documentaries, and moving-image artist Andrea Zimmerman (founding member of Vision Machine and Fugitive Images). You will work with the latest digital video equipment and train in our numerous Final Cut Pro editing suites. The theoretical components of the course are taught by full-time academic staff who are all research active in the field of documentary and journalism, but who are also themselves filmmakers, ensuring the best possible cross-over between theory and practice.
The course encourages you to develop your own interests and skills and is not prescriptive about the kinds of documentary you can make. As a London based university we have access to a dense network of filmmakers and developing links with organisations such as Doc Househttp://www.dochouse.org/, the Documentary Filmmakers Group (DFG)http://thedfg.org/index.aspx and the One World Broadcasting Trusthttp://oneworldmedia.org.uk/. We believe that the future for many independent documentary filmmakers will no longer be limited to the old model of getting commissions from broadcast television. The shift to user-generated content and web-based dissemination of work will be increasingly reflected in our curriculum.Module Content (all core)Theory and History of Documentary PracticesThis introduces students to the key theorists and practitioners of documentary, explores its different institutional contexts in film and television, and offers comparative analysis of the development of documentary in the UK and, by way of contrast, Latin America.Documentary Practices 1This is a double unit running over two terms. Students will learn the practical methods for mainstream documentary production procedures such as writing the proposal, researching the idea, interviewing techniques and shooting strategies.Editing PracticesThis is specifically devoted to instructing students on the University's Avid digital editing suites and developing competence in different editing strategies.Alternative PracticesThis module mixes theory and practical elements. It explores documentary traditions that in some way lie outside and/or challenge the more mainstream documentary or television documentary practices. Much contemporary documentary provides perspectives on current events and issues marginalised by mainstream news and current affairs provision. We also look at the interface between documentary and more avant-garde, experimental practices. You will also be taught web design and construction. The internet has become a crucial means for independent documentary filmmakers to publicise their work, disseminate it and build support networks.Documentary Practices 2Continues the practical exploration of mainstream documentary procedures and practices, including such topics as the creative use of sounds, writing documentary commentary, production management planning, and questions of funding and distribution.Short Video Project
This offers the opportunity to produce a short video in preparation for the longer video project in the third term.Final ProjectIn the third term you take the final video project which involves bringing your practical, historical and theoretical knowledge to bear on a substantive documentary on a subject and in a style (or styles) of your own choosing. You will have tutorial guidance but will need to demonstrate considerable independence of thought, creativity and initiative.
Recent examples of documentaries by students taking this course include:
US military bases on Greek islands
The potential impact of the Olympics on the East End
Life in Beirut
The Armenian genocide
The Vietnamese Boat People
Loss of a twin sibling.
Indigenous struggles in Chiapas, Mexico.
A women’s only village in Kenya. Festival Screenings, Awards, and Exhibitions:Pain in My Heart by Hopewell Chin’ono won Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship award for outstanding documentary, 2008
http://allafrica.com/stories/200802250068.html. Hoepwell's film A Violent Response was nominated for a BANFF World Television Award in Canada 2010.The Unprotected Museum, Ioannis Malovakis - 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Film FestivalThe Perfect Man, Maria Akesson, Lesbian, Gay - Transgender film festivals worldwide (Toronto, Montreal, Melbourne and London)Mesopotamian Marshes, Stijn Verhoeff - Exhibition in Photography Museum in Amsterdam
Purnima Raghunath's film City of Widows won the Satyajit Ray Foundation Best Short Film Award in April 2008. Her short film for the MA Gap The Mind won the City of London Festival’s City in Motion Student Short Film Competition Award.
Kat Zoulas’s The Village That Whistles was screened at the Thessaloniki Film Festival in 2010, Eleanor Church’s Manju was screened at the London International Documentary Festival in the same year and Jamel Dallali’s Love and Death was screened at the Al Jazeera Documentary Festival, also in 2010. All these were final films made by the students as part of the MA.CareersOur graduates have found careers in documentary production or developed their existing film and television careers thanks to the opportunity that the MA provides to learn about the totality of the documentary production process. Whether going into television production, film production, setting up your own company or working on documentary for NGOs, this MA will help you find employment in this field.Recent Graduates’ achievements and employment:ZDF German Television, history and society documentary department
Documentary producer, Danceproject, PureRisk Entertainment
Production team, Pramface Mansion (Broadcast BBC March 2008)
Development department, Windfall Films (developing documentary and factual ideas for TV series and singles for UK and US broadcasters)
Location Assistant, documentary production company in Athens, Greece
Freelance Non-Linear Video Editor
Documentary filmmaking for the Environmental Justice Foundation
Documentary filmmaking for the Red Cross
Editor/Director for Belgian TVSchool of ArtsThe School of Arts has specialists in drama, dance, English and music and its work prioritises the contemporary and the innovative. Its approaches are both theoretical and practice-based learning and research. Interdisciplinarity is a distinguishing feature of much of the postgraduate student research programmes. It is a strategic imperative for the School that its research work engages with issues of contemporary relevance for all those with a stake in innovation in the performing arts.
All facilities are close at hand - performance and rehearsal rooms, recording studios, media and arts facilities, libraries, computer labs, the Students' Union, sports facilities, and of course, lecture rooms and smaller classrooms. Everything is designed for your convenience.