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Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen

Learn from award-winning filmmakers how films go from script to screen with this film production course from the BFI Film Academy.

131,814 enrolled on this course

Filmmaking: a female cinematographer changing the lens on the camera
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Deepen your understanding of the filmmaking process

Over six weeks, a team of award-winning filmmakers will take you through their approach to telling stories. You will explore a variety of film production specialisms, from writing and directing to cinematography, editing and composing. Each week your filmmaker host will use examples from their work as well as films that have influenced and inspired them.

This film production course from the NFTS and the BFI Film Academy will deepen your understanding of the filmmaking process and show you how to take it further – whether making your own short films, thinking about a career, or simply a deeper appreciation of the films you watch.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Hi, I’m Jon Wardle. I’m the Director of the British National Film and Television School. And we have joined up with the BFI. And with then we are running this six week course, Explore Filmmaking. So whether you’re a budding filmmaker or a film fan who wants to understand more about what happens behind the scenes on a film, this course will have something for you. Our team of award winning filmmakers will take you through their approach to telling stories on screen, as well as demystifying their own filmmaking specialisms. From writing and directing to cinematography, editing, and composing, each week your filmmaker host will use examples from their own work to explain and illustrate their craft.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds You will also have the chance to see award winning short films from the NFTS. You’ll be encouraged to participate in the discussion by reflecting on your viewing, by thinking more deeply about what goes into the process of filmmaking. And for those of you who want to make films themselves, there’ll be some small scale practical activities and the chance to share you work. So come and join us on our course, Explore Filmmaking, and learn at the world’s number one international film school.


  • Week 1

    A Passion for Film

    • Introduction

      An introduction to the course and your filmmaker hosts. Introduce yourself and tell everyone what you want from the course.

    • Making films

      Who works on a film and what do they do? Enabling a greater understanding of the roles within film production.

    • Short film case study

      What defines a 'short film'? Find out how a short gets from script to screen with this case study of Jamie Stone's 2011 film, Skyborn.

    • Useful resources

      An introduction to some other resources which may prove useful for Explore Filmmaking. Broaden your use of film-related resources and discuss films made by learners on the course.

    • Short film of the week- Skyborn

      A case study of a short film, Skyborn. Improve your understanding of the role of short films and contribute to discussion of them.

    • Reflections

      Reflect on Week 1 of the course

  • Week 2

    Having Vision: Telling Stories

    • Plot and theme

      What's the difference between plot and theme? You will consider what lies beneath the surface of stories and how filmmakers bring themes to life through characters and action.

    • Working from a variety of material

      A look at the range of sources for film stories and the ways in which they are adapted for the big screen. You will discuss examples from your own experience.

    • Short film of the week: Kingsland

      Tony Grisoni's short film set in North London. A chance to consider plot, theme and sources of story.

    • The vision and the market

      Discussion of the difficulties of film funding. An opportunity to consider some of the challenges faced by filmmakers.

    • Reflections

      Reflect on Week 2. An exercise to explore your understanding and some chances to reflect.

  • Week 3

    An Accumulation of Decisions

    • Getting practical

      Mike Figgis discusses some of the decisions which filmmakers need to make before embarking on a project. You will consider the importance of time management.

    • On location

      The issues involved in location shooting. You will consider visualising a location from a script extract.

    • Short film of the week: The Mass of Men

      This week's case study looks at the themes of the film, some of the devices it uses, casting and budget. You will consider how the budget is allocated.

    • Equipment

      Mike Figgis discusses a range of equipment. You will gain greater insight into the possibilities for shooting a film.

    • Reflections

      A chance to reflect on Week 3 of the course, with some tips from your host.

  • Week 4

    Breaking Down a Scene

    • On the shoot

      Corin Hardy introduces the work of a director on the set or on location. You will gain insight into the processes of detailed planning of a shoot.

    • The camera

      The work of the cinematographer and you will undertake a task involving lighting

    • Short film of the week- Butterfly

      Corin Hardy's short film animation discussed. An opportunity to consider how animated characters may be given a psychological dimension.

    • Reflections

      An opportunity to reflect on Week 4, links to Corin's music video work and films about filmmaking

  • Week 5

    Transitions in Time and Space

    • Editing for storytelling

      Exploring time, space and the other dimensions of editing

    • Structure

      You will consider some different ways in which films are structured.

    • Short film of the week- Echo

      A short film with an interesting structure, discussed by the director.

    • The challenge of the edit

      Some challenges and how the editor overcomes them. You will undertake a practical editing task.

    • Reflection

      Time to reflect on what you learned during Week 5.

  • Week 6

    Music and Sound in Film

    • Capturing sound

      How sound is used to provide a sense of realism in a range of films.

    • Making music

      John Keane considers the work of the composer of film music, illustrated with extracts.

    • Featured short film of the week: 'The Hill Farm'

      Our short film of the week is an animation: 'The Hill Farm', for part of which you will be invited to create a soundtrack.

    • Reflection

      A chance to reflect upon the final week of the course.

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...

  • Discuss the differences between story and theme in a film
  • Explain the different roles involved in a film shoot
  • Explore the contribution of the camera to storytelling
  • Reflect upon the role of editing in telling a story on film
  • Identify the contribution of sound and music to a film's meaning

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interesting in filmmaking. Whether you’re a budding filmmaker or a film fan who wants to understand more about what happens behind-the-scenes, this course from the internationally acclaimed National Film and Television School will have something for you.

What software or tools do you need?

This course doesn’t require any existing specialist film-making skills or equipment, though there will be extension activities if you want to enhance your learning experience.

Who will you learn with?

I'm the Director of the National Film and Television School. I wrote and developed the the Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen course.

I am a film education specialist, freelance filmmaker and a tutor on the NFTS & BFI's 'Explore Filmmaking' and 'Explore Animation' courses.

Who developed the course?

National Film and Television School

The National Film and Television School is one of the best and most respected film, television and new media schools in the world.

Endorsers and supporters

supported by

BFI Film Forever logo

supported by

BFI Film Academy

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