Recommendations from the Education and Training Committee

By Clive Myer

sid-and-nancy-alex-cox.jpgSid and Nancy, 1986

The committee had to overcome a division between training and education, with each side liable to disparage the other, which is the legacy of a history in which both have been poorly served. The first accomplishment of the Parliament was to bring both sides together in the same room on more or less equal terms.

The independent film sector has a special relationship with education. Many filmmakers are also educators who seek to develop film as a vibrant part of local and world culture. And not just makers – a broad community of interest within academia is helping to shape the next generation of teachers, film critics, programmers, film education officers and others who make up the wider film and video culture, not least, audiences. The committee recognised the importance of regional film cultures and their unique contributions and the need for regional educational establishments.

To have a healthy, inspirational world-class film culture you need a healthy seeding ground that can respond to new technology, new working methods and new thinking. Skills and craft teaching is one side of it, along with dedicated screenwriting courses, which have mushroomed in recent years. But the educational context is much broader, raising questions about film education in Further and Higher Education, and including research and its potential across education and industry.

Issues range from the demand for university places in relation to Government ambitions for student numbers (film and video studies courses at university continue to expand), to questions raised by the imminent Arts and Humanities Research Council and the future of the Research Assessment Exercise. There are several recent reports on these concerns.[1] Media education subject groups have recently formed an alliance through the Standing Conference of Media Subject Associations (SCOMSA).[2]

trainspotting-danny-boyle.jpgTrainspotting, 1986

The committee agreed on the following proposals:

1. Education as a stakeholder in the film industry

Education and training have been misunderstood as something that replaced past apprenticeship schemes. Crucial changes have since taken place in both production and education. Today, educational establishments are an enormous resource of employment, training and facilities. Many freelancers work both in production and education, neither offering full security. With little funding from industry, educational establishments have provided production resources. Since there would be little short filmmaking without them, educational institutions are now the largest and most innovative source of new work in the UK. The Committee resolved that:

Education is a stakeholder in the moving image industry, as employer, producer and facilities provider, making economic and cultural contributions to the creative future of the film industry and beyond into other industries.

2. Shifting the dichotomy of education / training

Rather than reinforcing differences between education and training, the opportunity exists to recognise a wide range of educational aspirations. In the move towards accreditation, high priority should be given to the recognition of innovation, risk and challenge. To encourage an integrated approach to education and training, the following areas would benefit from financial support by the UK Film Council:

revengers-tragedy-alex-cox.jpgRevengers Tragedy, 2002

• Back catalogues of films and videos for screening to classes. Encouragement for distributors’ and exhibitors’ involvement with education, to make films more accessible to schools, colleges and universities.

• Making scripts and shooting scripts (rather than just published post-production scripts) available for analysis and/or teaching by example.

• ‘Artist in residence’ schemes and masterclasses by UK and international filmmakers.

• The funding of student film festivals and the distribution of student films on DVD, to make available the large number of films produced by graduates each year.

3. Internationalism not parochialism - The international student body and its effect on film commissions, studios and UK film practice.

International students have long been attracted to study film in the UK, and become informal ambassadors who often return to use UK locations and studios for their productions. But to promote exchange programmes and make this traffic two-way, help is needed beyond European funding programmes and the British Council. The committee calls upon the UK Film Council to:

Support exchange programmes whereby students from all UK regions can benefit from the experience of foreign study.

revengers-tragedy-alex-cox-2.jpgRevengers Tragedy, 2002

4. The role of research in film schools / universities: Education as an experimental lab, research wing of the film & TV industries.

Educational institutions provide the media industries with an unacknowledged source of R&D - research and development. Advanced research is vital not only to stretch the forms and methods of production, but also to innovate in terms of content and imagination. Research students experiment, take risks and cross boundaries when industry is constrained by ratings expectations. Educational funding bodies such as the AHRB recognise practice as valid research, and PhD by portfolio is now an established route for advanced education. Practice exists at MA level from writing to screening. Screenwriting at postgraduate level can be found at the Universities of East Anglia, Glamorgan, Bournemouth, Salford, Leeds, Goldsmiths’ College, and the NFTS. The committee calls upon the UK Film Council and the DCMS to:

• Assist the development of postgraduate programmes from script to screen.

• Make bursaries available to encourage a broader range of students.

• Encourage the establishment of industry and educational partnerships for practical projects of a cultural nature, which includes the dissemination of student work on television and in cinemas.

Finally, the committee urges everyone involved to ditch short-termism and take a long-term approach to developing future film-makers and audiences who have a deep knowledge and understanding of independent film and their culture.


[1]. AVITG report, 2000; Alan Parker’s ‘Building a Sustainable UK Film Industry’, 2002; DfES Report ‘The Future of Higher Education’, 2003; Skillset’s ‘Developing UK Film Talent’, 2003 and The Roberts Report ‘Review of Research Assessment’, 2003.

Clive Myer is the Director of The Film Academy, University of Glamorgan; Executive Committee member of the National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image.