9 minute read  written by  . Published on September 29, 2015

Carol Leech-Donegan

Review by Carol Leech-Donegan. I am a songwriter and composer of original instrumentals and soundtracks for theatre, film and TV. I also enjoying writing about music related subjects, and completing interesting online courses (MOOC’s)

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I decided to enroll in the course Explore Filmmaking from Script to Screen for quite a few reasons. I wanted to learn some new skills with the freedom to study around other commitments, but above all, what it would be like to study online and discover what MOOC’s were all about.

The course certainly did catch my attention when I searched for online music and film related MOOC’s. I have loved music and film all of my life, and have been involved one way or another with the creative aspect of composing music. I also listen to a lot of different musical genres and have watched a lot of films over the years especially the classical Hollywood period. I am also someone who enjoys everything about the theatre and film process from script to screen, and my ambition is to compose a film soundtrack. The course looked perfect for me.

Intro Video – Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen

I wanted to build on skills that I had already learned when I studied Theater Studies, specializing in sound and music, and moved from learning about the stage to the screen.

Another great starting point and an eye catcher for me, was the fact that the course was free, six weeks in length, a few short hours a week and an offer of a certificate of achievement.

Studying was something I did years ago before my busy life so I wondered, could I achieve anything by doing this course? When you are a creative person that skill never leaves you and I have always enjoyed learning, so why not spend some time doing it again if the time was manageable. I also wanted to continue with my work to a higher level and learn some new skills along the way.

THE COURSE

Nik Powel

I began to write my profile on the ‘Futurelearn’ website who are hosting the MOOC, joined the course and waited for June 29th 2015 to arrive so I could get started.

The National Film and Television school (NFTS) in the UK, provided the course, inspired by The British Film Institute (BFI).

The course was created by Jon Wardle and Peter Frasier, with additional mentoring from Tom Woodcock, who are the online tutors throughout the course. You can follow them and other learners when you sign up, and I received some very encouraging feedback during the time I spent on the course. This was great for building confidence and sharing points as you progressed with learning. I never felt as if I was learning alone as great support was available from the tutors and anyone else that you wanted to interact with.

There is also peace of mind in knowing that the course is run by reputable institutions like the NFTS. Futurelearn are owned by The Open University so I knew that everything would be done in a professional manner with attention to detail as I soon discovered.

Each week of the course, there is a different host depending on what aspect of filmmaking is being taught. I found this very interesting as each host is a professional in their field, so I knew that what I was being taught was certainly worth waiting for and to be valued.

Every week you receive a welcoming email with details of what to expect in the coming week.

There are short films to watch, discussions and tasks to do, from all aspects of filmmaking. At the end of each week there are valuable tips given.

I have never made any kind of film before, but I didn’t feel out of my depth with any of the learning because the course would be of great interest to anyone who enjoys watching or making films and has an interest in what goes on behind the scenes.

I have never made any kind of film before, but I didn’t feel out of my depth with any of the learning because the course would be of great interest to anyone who enjoys watching or making films and has an interest in what goes on behind the scenes. 

My specialism is music and week 6 was entitled, ‘Music and Sound in Film’ which I enjoyed immensely because this gave me a chance to use my composing skills and put sound to film on a short film extract.

A short description of the weekly lessons are as follows:-

WEEK 1: A PASSION FOR FILM
This is the introductory week to introduce you to your tutors and to tell you what you will be learning over the 6 weeks. Also, you are encouraged to introduce yourself and maybe share your interest in the course. You are taught about the various roles taken on board by a film crew which I found to be very interesting. The week concludes with advising you to head to the BAFTA Guru website which is so full of valuable content for anyone interested in filmmaking.

WEEK 2: HAVING VISION: TELLING STORIES
Plot and theme are the topic and how to differentiate between the two, storyboards, planning a scene, and even the film budget are included in week 2 to name but a few topics. There are some short videos to watch, discussions and tips from the hosts writer-director of ‘Gone Too Far’ Destiny Ekaragha, and writer Tony Grisoni talks about one of his short films, ‘Kingsland’.

Getting funding for your film – Destiny’s experience

WEEK 3: AN ACCUMULATION OF DECISIONS
Director, screenwriter, and Composer Mike Figgis of ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, and ‘Timecode’ to name but a few films, talks about the aspects of what filmmakers decide upon when starting out to make a film. He talked in depth about this which was a very interesting week.

How to make simple but effective lighting for your film

WEEK 4: BREAKING DOWN A SCENE
Corin Hardy director of ‘The Hallow’ talks about the work of a director. I was interested to learn more about his work as he is also involved with directing music videos for a few chart topping artists including Olly Murs.

WEEK 5: TRANSITIONS IN TIME AND SPACE
This week covers editing with short film examples and discussions. Justine Wright is the host, whose talent is behind, ‘Touching the Void’, ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘Locke’.

WEEK 6: MUSIC AND SOUND IN FILM
How to use sound to create realism with music and effects with sound designer, Danny Hambrook, sound designer of ‘Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, and ‘Le Weekend. Featured short film of the week. ‘The Hill Farm’ by Mark Baker famous for creating ‘Peppa Pig’. A short clip from ‘The Hill Farm’ was used as the sound project for you to be able to create your own soundtrack. This really was fun, and my favourite week of the whole course.

THE CONCLUSION

By the time I realized how much I had learned, the 6 weeks were almost complete and I was on the way to achieving my first online course certificate. This is an optional feature after completing 50% of the course, but I enjoyed the learning experience so much that I wanted to complete the 6 weeks and purchase a certificate of my achievement. In fact, I was sorry when the course came to an end, and realised how much confidence I had gained even though I had been away from further education for so long, and had now become a mature student.

Anyone can do this course and get a lot of enjoyment from doing so, even if you are completely new to actually making films like myself, a budding filmmaker or someone who just loves the cinema. 

Anyone can do this course and get a lot of enjoyment from doing so, even if you are completely new to actually making films like myself, a budding filmmaker or someone who just loves the cinema. Don’t be afraid of things getting too technical because they don’t. Any aspects of filmmaking are explained very plainly but in detail, and the tutors are there to welcome any questions.

Each week is broken down into a series of smaller units which range from a few minutes to around 30 minutes if there is a short film to watch. I found that sometimes if I had a busy week I could maybe do a couple of these over a few days or if I became engrossed in the particular topic of discussion, I continued until I felt I had taken in enough for that particular time of day.

One thing I will have to say is although the course details that the time required is 3 hours a week, I found that it did sometimes take a little more time, especially when you become involved in one of the practical tasks. I found myself ending up on relevant websites, some of which are recommended reading at the end of the weekly lessons, but the amount of time you spend learning additional things relating to the course, is up to you.

From my point of view as a composer and songwriter, it is important that I understand everything involved about a story from script to screen, to enable me to create suitable sound and music for a film. On completion of this course I have to say that it turned out to be very useful for me, not just because of the way it helped me to learn so much more about filmmaking, but also to give me confidence to go on to find and learn from many more interesting MOOC’s.

Exploring Filmmaking: From Script to Screen will run again on October 26th 2015 and I highly recommend this course from ‘Futurelearn’.

RELATED COURSES

I have also noticed that on September 28th, there is another interesting film course starting on ‘Futurelearn’ called, ‘Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web’ from the University of Birmingham and ‘The Business of Film’ from The Open University. My only problem is, which course to do next?

Explore Filmmaking from Script to Screen
FutureLearn
NFTS
6 weeks
3 hours/week
Medium

Anyone can complete this course, even if you are completely new to actually making films, a budding filmmaker or someone who just loves the cinema. Don’t be afraid of things getting too technical because they don’t. Any aspects of filmmaking are explained very plainly but in detail, and the tutors are there to welcome any questions.