A level Film Studies

Film Studies has a grown into a very popular and successful subject at Ashbourne with students consistently achieving excellent results.

 Creative Projects produced at Ashbourne

From Hollywood and Bollywood to Iranian art house and Italian neo realism, students are introduced to a wide range of films to explore their social, cultural and political themes and contexts, as well as differing styles of writing and directing.

With expert tuition and technical advice from our Multimedia Faculty Head and Film Studies tutor Dennis Fulcher students also get the chance to produce and edit their own films and videos using industry-standard software Final Cut Pro.

This course can be studied alongside other arts and media courses – Media Studies, Art, Graphics, English Literature, Drama and Theatre Studies – but is also an excellent complement to History and Politics.

Why study Film?

Films are not just about entertainment (although there is that). They offer a view on the world. They are artistic and cultural reflections of their time and place full of underlying social, historical and cultural contexts to explore and decipher.

By studying film you will begin to acquire the tools with which to interpret, analyse and filter the narrative within the films and images that have become so pervasive in today’s culture.

The technical, creative and analytical skills you develop in studying and producing film will not only prove invaluable experience for a job in cinema, the media industry and the arts but will also be attractive to employers in a variety of other fields.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the WJEC syllabus for A level Film Studies. This syllabus will continue to run for current A level students sitting final exams in 2018.

What is covered on the course?

As Film Studies is now making the transition to linear only the A2 of the legacy specification remains relevant.

Film research and creative projectsCreative ProjectsFilm experienceCritical study
Students explore the ‘production of meaning’ in film by carrying out critical research about a film of their choice and by creating their own short film. They can focus on a specific area relating to film such as auter, performance, genre, technology or studio, or critically analyse their film from a chosen perspective, e.g. feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis.

Chaplin, Ramsay, Nolan, Burton and Guillermo Del Toro, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, Gary Oldman, Stanley Kubrick, Jack Nicholson and Jim Jarmusch are just some of the directors and actors previous students have chosen to focus on.

Below are some of the extremely positive reports from the 2017 exam moderator about students’ work.

“The sample from this centre was exemplary in every way. All should be thoroughly commended for the standard of work both theoretical and practical.”

“The small scale research projects showed some meticulous research into individual areas of study. This made for some illuminating presentation scripts. An example of this would be the work on auteur Jim Jarmusch. An almost flawless catalogue which justified the rich material selected for inclusion. The presentation script which followed sustained excellence throughout and established some insightful observations. Another example was the highly demanding focus when the candidate investigated the influence of Hitchcock on Stanley Kubrick and David Fincher. The accompanying presentation script delivered some challenging ideas and his summation of spectatorship values was both confident and fluent.”

Some of the the creative projects produced by Ashbourne students are displayed at the top of this page. The exam moderators make reference specifically to a couple of the pieces but are extremely positive about the provision of film studies overall at Ashbourne and the outstanding accomplishments of students in their creative projects:

“It is clear that there is a great love of film at this centre which is nurtured by some excellent teaching. Candidates express their learning with confidence and have clearly worked very hard. In the Creative component, all candidates in the sample had constructed films which showed some superb planning and execution. The film ‘Nothing & Everything’ was a most accomplished work. It was brimful of haunting and arresting visuals which was accompanied by a multi-layered soundtrack. The Japanese influenced film was mesmerising and evocative. It had a refreshingly unique feel to it and employed stunning effects work to create a visual audience response.”

“The Creative project component included some extremely talented film work which reflected meticulous planning in the first instance and then unstinting execution of creative design to a most professional standard. Films were fully justified of a high level 4 grade in most cases. The film ‘The Missing’ was extraordinary. It kept me on the edge of my seat as the sound effects work was so convincing and thoroughly immersed the audience into the world of the schizophrenic protagonist with added features from the horror genre. The reaction shot at 1’38” was brilliant. The candidate should be commended for their efforts. Cupid’s Glove was an extraordinary piece of work and an exemplar in creative achievement. The candidate faithfully employed but also subverted the features and conventions of her chosen genre.”

Varieties of film experience
Students will draw on their understanding of key concepts and critical analysis developed over the entire course to examine a variety of complex films from different contexts and explore how they are experienced,

World cinema
Students get the chance to watch some excellent and provoking films from around the world like Chungking Express (Wong Kar Wai, 1995), Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu 2000), City of God (Fernando Mereilles and Katia Lund, 2002) and La Haine (Matthieu Kassowitz, 1995) to explore national, social and political contexts and impact on viewers.

How audiences react to films is critical so students explore particular aspects of spectatorship such as emotional response, film language, documentary style and radical ‘alternative’ movies.

Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel/Dali, 1929), The Big Shave (Scorsese, 1967), Natural Born Killers (Stone, 1994), Schindler’s List (1993) and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Herman, 2008) are a selection that have been studied to examine audience emotional response.

Our documentary focus has included The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer, 2012), Fahrenheit 9/11 (Moore 2004) Touching the Void (MacDonald, 2003), Searching for Sugarman (Bendjelloul, 2012) and Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929).

Students draw from all the skills and knowledge they have developed over the course to put together a critical study of a single film chosen from a selected five options. Previous choices have included Modern Times (Chaplin, 1936), Fight Club (Fincher, 1999), Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002), Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo,1966) and Solaris (Tarkovsky, 1972).

Who teaches this course?

Dennis Fulcher, Head of Faculty: Multi-media and Social Sciences.

MA Government and Political Studies (London Metropolitan University); BSc Hons Sociology (Kingston); NVQ L4 Print Journalism with industry placement (Richmond Adult Community College); PGCE (Post Compulsory Education) (Greenwich)

Dennis combines his passion for film, a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, technical expertise and years of experience to create lively and engaging classes for his students. He uses a wide variety of materials and innovative exercises that encourage students to steer their own learning and development. As a result Dennis’ students consistently achieve excellent grades and rate their overall learning experience highly.

Dennis is Faculty Head for Multimedia and Social Sciences. He teaches a broad range of subjects including Film, Media, Government and Politics, Law and Psychology and has been working at Ashbourne for many years. Dennis is also a team leader for Government and Politics A level examiners.

Alberto Lado Rey

MA Hispanic Studies (UCL); Post Graduate Diploma in Film and TV Studies (Westminster University) ; BA English Language and Literature (Santiago de Compostela)

Alberto is Head of Faculty for Modern Foreign Languages and teacher of Spanish, English Literature and Film Studies. He is also principal examiner for the Spanish AS topics and texts unit.

Alberto has a lifelong passion for film and the world of filmmaking. He specialises in national cinema – Spanish and Latin American cinema in particular – and auteur theory, especially when applied to classic Hollywood directors. In lessons, he uses a number of different interactive teaching methods and always encourages students to develop their own critical views by actively participating in the debates about the texts under study.

Beyond A level Film Studies

Students hoping to pursue a career in this field can choose from a variety of Film Studies and related courses at universities across the UK including at Warwick, King’s College and Queen Mary, Edinburgh, UCL, Oxford, East Anglia, Plymouth and Gloucestershire.

Getting into the film industry is highly competitive but there are plenty of options and directions you can to select. With your creative eye, sharp critical skills and technical expertise you could take centre stage and direct your own blockbuster or art house movie, write screenplays or music scores, review the latest movies, become the visual, sound or music editor, art direct, create props, come up with great ideas for programmes, make video games, promote, market and advertise, or become a youTube phenomenon, for example.

Suggested resources

CinemaBooksBroadcast and online

British Film Institute (BFI)
Dedicated to supporting and promoting the British film industry. The BFI holds the world’s largest archive of British films and runs the Southbank, London IMAX and River Thames film theatres. It also puts on the annual London Film Festival, Flare Film Festival and the youth-orientated Future Film Festival.

Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA)
Hosts wide selection of films, exhibitions, talks and events to promote ‘radical art and culture’. The ICA Bookshop stocks a wide range of media products covering ideas and contemporary culture from philosophy to feminism, art theory and writing, radical politics, sound and cinema.

For the latest films, reviews, London cinema listings and interviews.

The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age
Steven Ascheret al..
Essential guide to making films of all kinds.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
Robert McKee
Excellent and comprehensive guide to writing brilliant stories for the screen.

Rebel without a crew
Save thousands of pounds and teach yourself the ropes of film production, directing and screenwriting. Essential guide by guerrilla filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.

In the blink of an eye
Walter Murch, foreward by Francis Ford Coppola
Celebrated film editor Walter Murch reveals the art of editing for creating compelling films.

More suggested reads:
No film school list
Goodreads list

Book shops
British Film Institute bookshop

ICA bookshop

BBC Film Programme
Latest releases, spotlight on the stars and directors, plus news and views from the film world.

What’s on, features and production news. Film4 is part of Channel 4 TV and champions new talent in innovative filmmaking.

Latest film news, reviews, awards and more to give you an insight into the global film business.

Scheme of work

A level