• University of Birmingham logo
  • BBC Academy

Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web

Combine theory and practice to tell powerful stories through film online. Unleash your potential in this free online course.

68,411 enrolled on this course

A young woman using a film camera outside. Her focus is down the lens of the camera and she wears headphones.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

The University of Birmingham, the BBC Academy and Creative Skillset have combined forces, to create this four-week, free online course.

It will look at filmmaking theory and practice, and how they interact to produce good and even meaningful stories, helping you develop short films for digital platforms.

Whether fact or fiction, there are many principles and processes that make a story work on film, so that what viewers see is more than just a sequence of events, but is instead a compelling narrative, which holds their attention, makes them think and keeps them coming back for more.

We will cover all aspects of production – from how to research your story to adding the finishing touches in the edit. The course will address many issues along the way, including critical thinking; story structure; style; genre; ethics; legalities; practical techniques for camera, sound and lighting; and more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds RICHARD LANGLEY: 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Every day there are more than 4 billion video views on Facebook alone.

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 seconds MICHELE AARON: In the 21st century, more people than ever before are writing and producing their own films. And they’re doing so across the globe. From Miami to Mumbai, from Beijing to Birmingham, these stories are finding their way online.

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 seconds RICHARD LANGLEY: Some of what we see online captures our imagination. It compels us to watch for hour after hour, and encourages us to share with our friends. But some of the content online doesn’t do this.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds MICHELE AARON: So just what is it that makes a great digital film?

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds RICHARD LANGLEY: And how might we bring stories to social media that might respond to and contribute to our changing world?

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds MICHELE AARON: I’m Dr. Michele Aaron.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds RICHARD LANGLEY: And I’m Dr. Richard Langley. And we’re both academics specialising in film here at the University of Birmingham in England. Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll explore what elements you need to tell a great story, to produce a great film, and to get that film out there in the world.

What topics will you cover?

  • Critical understandings of storytelling, meaning making and all aspects of production
  • Structuring and designing effective narratives: style, genre and digital films
  • Pre-production: research, ethics, legalities and planning
  • Filmmaking Techniques: ethical practice, sound, lighting, framing, interviewing
  • Post-production: editing and online distribution

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the key ingredients involved in building compelling and meaningful stories
  • Reflect critically about the ethical practice of film and filmmaking
  • Describe and analyse a range of filmmaking concepts, practicalities and techniques from pre- to post-production
  • Reflect upon and apply these concepts, practicalities and techniques to the development of a short form digital film

Who is the course for?

This course is for those who want to start creating and distributing their own film content online.

You could be a graduate or already working within the television industry, either as a new entrant or an established freelancer wanting to expand your skillset.

You may have hobbies, places, causes or a business that you wish to promote online. It’s for anyone who has a story to tell and wants to use the medium of film to tell it, but doesn’t quite know where to start.

Who will you learn with?

I am Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of Birmingham. I write books, programme screenings, and develop research focused on ethics and how film can effect personal, social and political change.

I am keen to develop a fusion of theory and practice by way of a multifaceted audio-visual academia that can function as a versatile teaching tool, and as a mode of publication and public interaction.

Who developed the course?

University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a public research university, consistently listed as a leading UK university and ranked among the top 100 in the world.

BBC Academy


Endorsers and supporters

supported by

Creative Skillset logo

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLdigifilm to talk about this course on social media.