University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Introduction to Film and Film Directing

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION This Unit will help students gain insight into the art of practical filmmaking. It is theory-and practice-based. An overview of the milestones of filmmaking will be given against a background of the social and political forces at play at that moment in time.

- Study of basic techniques and rules for filming (how to use the camera, ‘crossing the line’ rule, eye lines, etc.).
- Study of the psychology of lenses and how to create various moods (psychology of color).
- Study of how to direct actors (diction to use, how to approach it, different styles and theories).
- Study of how editing shapes and creates a film.
- Study of poignant and lesser-known works, their histories and development (various directors’ works and various genres/sub-genres).
- An overview of different film movements (French New Wave, Italian Neo-Realism, etc.)

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate basic techniques for discriminating amongst lenses based on an understanding of how lenses can shape the way a story is told.
- Demonstrate some understanding of the complex relationship between a director and his/her actor.
- Demonstrate some understanding of script writing and how this relates to an understanding of what works on screen and what doesn’t. (Ambiguity isn’t bad… you don’t have to pander to the audience).
- Demonstrate some understanding of how to write good dialogue sequences without the use of exposition. (It has to feel natural but not necessarily like real life. Film dialogue is not written like dialogue in plays, radio plays or novels).
- Demonstrate some understanding of how to handle a crew, delegate instructions without coming across as a drill sergeant (difference between instructing and directing).
- Demonstrate some understanding of various film genres and film techniques by having the students give a presentation.
- Watching a film with new eyes, as they will become increasingly aware of what goes on behind the ‘curtain’ as the course progresses.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be:
- Able to use a DSLR camera for filming purposes on a basic level.
- Able to select the ideal lens to achieve the perspective that will best help their story to materialize on screen (close-up/mid/wide. What would you use a close-up for? This changes according to the medium: close-up in TV and in film).
- Able to communicate clearly and efficaciously with a film crew.
- In a position to direct a short sequence.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Indicative texts:

- Charles Chaplin (1964) My Autobiography. London: Penguins Books Limited.
- Matthew Modine (2005) Full Metal Jacket Diary. New York City: Rugged Land, LLC.
- Rick Altman (1999) Film/Genre. London: British Film Institute.
- Robert McKee (1999) Story. USA: Regan Books.
- Steven Jay Schneider; Ian Haydn Smith (2013) 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die [Revised Edition]. London: Octopus Publishing Group Limited.

Suggested films:

A list of films will be given to the student in the course of the lectures.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Seminar Paper Yes 20%
Video Yes 80%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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