Feature Film Development - MA

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: September 2020
  • Study mode: Full Time
  • Course cost: £9,500 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2020 entry (view all fees)
  • Location: NTI Birmingham

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MA Feature Film Development will help you to understand what is required to make sure a major film is ready to be pitched to investors. You’ll learn all about the extensive pre-production activities all big-budget movies currently go through before they are green-lit. You’ll be taken through each stage of pre-production development to navigate, understand and avoid common problems.

MA Feature Film Development is suitable for Directors, Producers, Editors, Film Makers, Screenwriters, Directors of Photography, Concept Artists, Production Designers, Art Directors, Animators, Technical Directors, Story Artists, & Pre-Visualisation Artists looking to start or further a career in feature film.

This course is part of Birmingham City University’s Film Futures suite, designed with industry to reflect the growing need for highly skilled film graduates who can fulfil roles within the international film industry. Focusing on film development, pre-production, story art and pre-visualisation, you’ll become part of a vibrant and multidisciplinary film community.

What's covered in the course?

You will create, as part of a team, a full feature film story and pre-visualisation reel, demonstrating all the film's narrative and action elements. You will learn how to workshop the essential narrative from a screenplay in order to create a believable, immersive animatic that plays out the core story in full, including all key performance and action components.

How you will learn

You will take part in story workshops, extracting key structural elements from a narrative structure and iteratively develop action and performance staging through a multi layered story process. This will help you gain an understanding of character arcs and resistances essential to immersive believability.

You will learn how to make a story and pre-visualisation reel that grabs an audience and takes them on a believable journey. You will gain experience working within a pre-production team, obtaining a unique perspective of feature film development pipelines - how it is project managed and implemented within milestone scheduling.

Practical Application

During the course your contribution to the pipeline will become your ‘portfolio of practice’ showcasing your specialism and team skills, therefore proving your professionalism.

The assignments reflect real world pre-production practices and are designed to develop the key skills that are necessary to work in the international film industries.

You’ll have access to industry standard software, utilised by major film studios.

Why Choose Us?

  • A cutting edge, one of a kind course, unique to Birmingham City University.
  • Opportunity to secure an MA whilst working with world leaders in film development.
  • The course has been developed with industry to ensure it provides the skills and knowledge you’ll need to work in the film industry, here in the UK and overseas.
  • Teaching is delivered by industry practitioners and experienced academics.
  • No exams! Coursework assignments that reflect industry practice.

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Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 24 November. Register your interest and we'll send an email update nearer the time. Visit us to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

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This course is open to International students

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Speak to an expert

If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Shaun Magher.

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Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate open day.

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements 
Essential

MA Feature Film Development is open to all applicants who meet one of the following criteria:

  • A background in film-making alongside a portfolio and showreel demonstrating your best work.
  • Core Art skills. Including drawing, anatomy, composition, value and colour theory.
  • Skills within 2D and 3D software.
  • Animation skills, focused on performance.
Desirable

A degree in art, design, graphic, visual communications, animation or related discipline is desired but not essential

International Students

Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.

Apply now

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2020 FT 1 year £9,500 per year

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2020 FT 1 year £12,800 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements

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Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs or charges associated with studying on this course. While you may choose to purchase personal copies of text books, all our key text books are available from our library or online (subject to normal library loan and online access arrangements). NTI Birmingham courses aim to connect students with industry locally, nationally and globally, in alignment with student aspirations. Opportunities to engage with industry in an alternative location are always promoted but are never compulsory so students can make a decision based around their individual responsibilities, lifestyle and finances.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Modules

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Story Research and Concept
20 credits

The purpose of this module is to give You the opportunity to experience the challenge of working within a Story and Pre-Visualisation development team by completing the initial research and concept stages of a Feature film development.

Story Development Planning
40 credits

The purpose of this module is for you to develop a ‘Pre-Production asset pack’. You will build a detailed development structure and production plan within the following areas.

Design – To enhance the design process and establish a more refined art-style for the pre-production process. This will include more detailed mood boards, refined concept designs for both characters and environments and Production illustrations for key scenes.

Writing - To explore ‘show don’t tell’ methods within story structure opens narrative holes or blockers, or suggest much more effective and entertaining ways to develop story structure. It is important for the story development team to contribute to the writing process within this stage of the development.

Story – To iterate block storyboards focusing on 3 major scenes within the film. Developing one into a full animatic, setting the style and performance quality levels required for the future development.

Production – To formulate a detailed pre-production schedule and asset breakdown by outlining key deliverable milestones within a project management methodology. To create an initial Forecast budget for Production (based on the 3 key scenes within the Pre-Production asset pack)

Major Project
60 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practical outcome with accompanying reflective, critical and contextual material. The main consideration when choosing your topic is that it must be relevant to your programme and you should consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 60 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:

Digital Production in Practice
20 credits

It’s all about you! This module is centred around you and your personal and professional development. You will be the ‘Creative’ and the ‘Content Producer’ in the ideation, development, production and delivery of your own digital marketing assets.

Film Festivals, Marketing and PR
20 credits

This module provides an in-depth look at a major crux for the film industry: film festivals. Film festivals play a part in the financing, distribution and marketing of independent films and therefore the study of them is a core part of the overall. The present module will give students an understanding of the importance of film festivals to the industry, and give them insight into the skills needed to mount a successful marketing and public relations strategy at a festival.

Animation Asset Production
20 credits

The focus of this module is to give students the opportunity to experience the challenges of completing a Feature film development ‘Asset library’ that will be implemented in the production stage of creating a fully immersive Feature film story and pre-visualisation reel that contains either a ‘scene slice’ or has a ‘teaser’ reel to promote the final look and feel of the project.

Professional Animation Practice
40 credits

In this module you will create discipline specific ‘Production ready Assets’ for a Feature film story reel, Pre-Visualisation and scene slice/teaser reel to professional standards.

Film Marketing, Planning and Deployment
40 credits

This module will give students a thorough grounding in the skills necessary to successfully plan and carry out a film marketing strategy. The module will specifically examine the role of the distributor and the ways in which distributors market films from strategizing, through to planning budgets and implementation.

 
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Course Structure

During the year, you will study five taught modules over 3 semesters, culminating in a final group module.

Teaching methods may include practical sessions, lectures and group debates, featuring input from both University staff and guest lecturers from industry, providing you with a wide range of practical knowledge and insight. 

On the course, you'll be taught by established industry professionals with a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm, who are experienced at recognising and responding to the rapidly changing demands within the industry.

Classroom activities

During your studies where appropriate, there may be practice-based opportunities to engage with a regional film festival such as Cine-Excess - an annual international film festival and conference on global cult film cultures and Flatpack Film Festival, a Birmingham-wide experimental film festival celebrating cinematic and audio-visual invention as well as other global film festivals such as Cannes, AFM and Annecy.

Enhancing your employability skills

NTI courses are built upon workplace simulation and industry-standard work, ensuring you behave less like a student and more as a professional, gaining the workplace experience and attributes you need. The aim is to produce confident, work-ready graduates.

At the end of your studies you’ll complete a Major Project. This project may lead you to working directly with a client depending on individual aspirations. This direct contact will give you the experience, confidence and freedom to put into action all you’ve learned on your studies. Aligned with this course-specific experience, you will also have access to a range of support staff and services from the University’s Careers Service, who can help with:

  • Reviewing CVs, covering letters and application forms
  • Career planning and decision making
  • Preparing for interviews and assessment centres
  • Developing portfolios
  • Networking with employers
  • Advice about self-employment and entrepreneurship

Placements

Semester Three, which is the Major Project, is a live studio activity, where all MA Feature Film development students combine into a team to create a full story and pre-visualisation reel, including a scene slice or teaser.

You will have feedback on your work from major studio partners helping you to guide your contribution towards the Major Project and ready it for a live pitch process to international studios, Producers and Distributor.

The experience achieved within this in-house placement is a demonstration of a live development and is valued by industry partners.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Graduate Jobs

This course is designed to help its graduates focus and refine their skills and portfolio to:

  • Move into full development on their own projects, with a focused understanding of the processes required to do so and ready that project for pitching.
  • Apply for various roles that are regularly advertised within the international Film, Television and Animation industries for Story Artists, Pre-visualisation artists, Concept artists, Production designers, Animators, Performance animators, Character technical directors, Environment Technical directors, Lighting directors, Editors, Compositors, VFX artists, Concept artists, Production designers and Art directors.

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Parkside and Curzon Buildings
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NTI-facilities-3

Our New Technology Institute is based in the Curzon Building, a £63 million development, located on our City Centre campus.

We help you learn a specific discipline such as digital marketing, programming or art and put that discipline into practice by offering flexible teaching space, dedicated development studios and open access work areas for group projects, as well as course-specific facilities.

Gamer Camp

  • Dedicated games development studio space.
  • Apple and Android target devices.
  • One high spec PC for game development per code and art student and high spec laptop per business student. As a Gamer Camp student you have your own PC and desk in a games development studio.
  • Wacom Cinetiq graphics tablets for selected art roles, such concept, GUI and character.
  • PlayStation 4 development and test kits. We were one of only five universities in Europe to receive PS4 Dev at launch.
  • PlayStation VITA development and test kits.
  • Perforce Source Control.
  • Hansoft Project Management software.

Two-Year Fast-Track

  • High spec PC laptop (Games Development, Digital Art and Design and Production) for the duration of the course.
  • MacBookAir laptop (Digital Marketing) for the duration of the course.
  • Dedicated studio space for projects.

Future Media and Film Futures

  • Access to dedicated studio space including iMac computers to deliver projects with external clients.
  • IMDB Pro.

Staff Introduction

Course Director Shaun Magher has over 3 decades of experience working as a Director, Creative Director and Animation Director in the Film and Animation industry.

Shaun Magher

Shaun Magher

Course Director MA Feature Film Development

Shaun Magher is a senior lecturer working with Birmingham City University’s NTI department, specialising in Story and Character development, Performance Animation and Digital Art. He teaches on Interactive Entertainment, Video Game Digital Art and Gamer Camp.

Shaun helps shape students into industry ready ‘T shaped’ artists. The horizontal strand demonstrates proficiency across various art disciplines and the vertical demonstrate a specialist expertise.

Read Shaun's full profile

Dr Xavier Mendik

Professor in Film/Director of the Cine-Excess International Film Festival

Xavier Mendik is Associate Professor in Film at Birmingham City University, from where he runs the Cine-Excess International Film Festival (www.cine-excess.co.uk). He has written extensively on cult film traditions, and some of his books (as author/editor/co-editor) include: Bodies of Desire and Bodies in Distress: The Golden Age of Italian Cult Cinema (2015), Peep Shows: Cult Film and the Cine-Erotic (2012), 100 Cult Films ([with Ernest Mathijs], 2011), The Cult Film Reader ([with Ernest Mathijs],2008), Alternative Europe: Eurotrash and Exploitation Cinema Since 1945 (2004), Shocking Cinema of the Seventies (2002), Underground USA: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon (2002), Dario Argento’s Tenebrae (2000) and Unruly Pleasures: The Cult Film and its Critics (2000).

Beyond his theoretical work in this area, Xavier Mendik has also completed 5 funded documentaries that explore the social importance of a range of cult film traditions. Xavier Mendik is currently completing the feature length documentary That’s La Morte: Italian Cult Film and the Years of Lead, which draws on research outlined in this current paper.

Read Xavier's full profile

Alan McQueen

Specialist Lecturer Film Business

Alan McQueen has spent the last 30 years working with the most important and influential UK film companies. He started his career in the film and home entertainment industry in 1983 with MSD Holdings. He then joined Palace Pictures, headed by Nik Powell and Steve Woolley. Palace Pictures were the most inventive, influential and important independent film company in the UK. Alan worked on such titles as 'Nikita', 'The Killer', 'Jean de Florette', 'Manon des Sources', 'Cinema Paradiso', 'The Evil Dead', 'Tatie Danielle', and many others.

Alan then set up Fox World Cinema, an adjunct of 20th Century Fox designed to sell and distribute art house and world cinema titles from a collection of independent distributors including Artificial Eye and Electric Pictures. They released such classics as 'Tokyo Story', 'Heimat', 'Delicatessen', 'Three Colours Trilogy', 'Clerks', 'Hidden' and hundreds of other titles.

Alan was also involved in forming the independent theatrical, video and DVD company Downtown Pictures, which quickly established itself in the UK theatrical market place with such titles as 'Gods and Monsters', 'Summer of Sam and Orphans'.

Alan then formed production company Mushroom Cloud Productions developing a number of projects before re-joining the home entertainment industry as Sales Director for World Cinema Ltd. They sold and distributed DVD for Tartan Video, Artificial Eye, C'Est La Vie DVD, Soda Pictures, TLA, Tyrone Productions, Pathe (World Cinema) and Yume Pictures.

Alan's love of writing has seen two novels published ('The Summervale Volunteers' and 'The Self Preservation Society'). 'The Summervale Volunteers' is being written as a TV series with BBC writers Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle on writing duties.

Alan has written and developed a number of screenplays, including 'The Mexican Spitfire', 'Them!', 'Index Finger in the Sock Drawer', 'Spirit of the Game', 'Footfingers' and 'The Brassiere Brigade'.

Alan recently produced 'Fathers of Girls', a documentary feature about Adam Ant, starring Ray Winstone and directed by Jack Bond.

Projects developed and owned or co-owned include, 'Coming Up' (to be directed in 2013 by Jessie Grace Mellor), 'The Foreigner', 'Outlaws', 'The Brassiere Brigade', and 'A Silent Bark'.

Read Alan's full profile

Pip Piper

Lecturer in Film and Live Project Tutor

Pip has been producing films for over 15 years from corporate to music videos to documentary and feature film.

His debut feature film 'The Insatiable Moon', which he produced with Tim Sanders (Lord of the Rings / Whale Rider) and shot in NZ in late 2009, won Best Foreign Film at Moondance in the US and Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor at the NZ film awards.

Pip's latest documentary film 'Last Shop Standing', released in September 2012, has received wide critical acclaim and is being distributed across the globe. Pip is CEO of the Producers Forum, a members based film organisation focused on development, networking and campaigning.

Read Pip's full profile

Rebecca Tullener Photo

Rebecca Tullener

Course Director BA Film Business and Promotion and PG Cert Film Distribution (distance learning)

Rebecca has 15 years of experience working across the digital/interactive media landscape producing printed artefacts, websites, commercial video, e-marketing plans and managing copy-writers, artists, designers, developers and video production staff.

Rebecca has delivered on key European funded initiatives in Birmingham School of Media and NTI focused on content creation and supporting local enterprises to use screen-based media technology. Rebecca’s held numerous roles at the university as Content Developer, Producer, Studio Manager and Project Manager and has led 50+ web development and commercial video production projects with local businesses, including the development of a digital image bank in collaboration with partner Birmingham Central Library to improve creative practitioner access to the library’s early fine print collection.

Read Rebecca's full profile