Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
16mm Filmmaking
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Project workbook  25%
Semester Assessment Critical reflection  (2,000 words)  25%
Semester Assessment Practical project  3-8 minute film  50%
Supplementary Assessment Critical reflection  (2,000 words)  25%
Supplementary Assessment Practical project  3-8 minute film  50%
Supplementary Assessment Project workbook  25%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate advanced specialist skills in 16mm film production, from shooting on a Bolex camera to hand-processing in the darkroom.

2. Demonstrate an advanced critical understanding of the current technological landscape and the ways in which different art practices make use of ‘outdated’ media.

3. Reflect to a high intellectual level on the aesthetic approaches that have shaped alternative documentary modes and incorporate this into an individual creative practice.

4. Critically reflect on the relationship between film and digital and the scholarly discourses relating to them.

Brief description

This module offers students a rare opportunity to explore the creative possibilities of celluloid through the medium of 16mm film. Traditionally associated with amateur, documentary and underground filmmaking, the 16mm format has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, with numerous artist-run film labs and DIY networks around the world facilitating a rediscovery of celluloid in the digital era. Declared obsolete in the commercial realm, film continues to attract artists and filmmakers due to its unique material properties and possibilities. Throughout the module we will draw on both historical and contemporary examples of 16mm film practice, which will inform students’ own exploration of the Bolex camera, hand-processing in the darkroom, tinting and toning, direct-on-film animation, editing and optical printing. We will explore different handmade techniques and discuss the ways in which they open up new ways of thinking about and experiencing landscape, environment, and ecology. The module invites experimentation and the skills developed will be applicable across different media, both analogue and digital.

In particular, students will be encouraged to think across different formats in their research-led practice, and there will be opportunities to create hybrid works of Super 8, 16mm and digital film.


Indicative content:

A brief history of the 16mm film format. Direct-on-film animation

Introduction to the Bolex camera. Test shoot.

Hand-processing in the darkroom

Exploring lenses and understanding depth of field

In-camera editing exercise

Tinting and toning

Optical printing

Synch sound

Flatbed editing and contact printing

Telecine and working creatively with digital transfer

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be required to carry out numerical calculations for reading light meters and setting aperture. In-camera editing and special effects will also require the calculation of shutter speed and number of frames shot.
Communication Students will develop verbal and written communication skills throughout the module. The practical workshops will rely to a large extent on the exchange of ideas and detailed discussion of concepts. Students will work through the basic technical components of 16mm filmmaking in groups, discussing these together before embarking on individual work.
Improving own Learning and Performance There will be a significant feedback component to the module, where students will have the opportunity to reflect on the results of specific techniques in order to refine their work for the final project.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to use electronic resources throughout the module. This will be a necessary part of the research for both the critical and practical assignments.
Personal Development and Career planning The module is part of an MA programme that requires students to consider their work within a context of professional practice. They will have the opportunity, throughout the module, to network with filmmakers and other industry professionals. They will be encouraged to think about how the skills they are gaining can contribute to future professional practice.
Problem solving The module requires a high level of problem-solving skills when working with specialist technology. Students will be encouraged, throughout the module to work individually and in groups to find solutions to technical problems.
Research skills The critical reflection and workbook components of the module will require the students to undertake background research into the field of analogue filmmaking and its relationship to documentary aesthetics. They will also be encouraged to seek out information, both printed and online, about the technical possibilities of the analogue medium.
Subject Specific Skills The module incorporates a high level of subject-specific skills, and the techniques that students learn in relation to analogue filmmaking will feed into their digital practice and understanding of moving image art more generally.
Team work Students will have the opportunity to work in groups and also individually. Team work will be central to the taught aspect of the module and students will shoot, process, tint and tone and edit short projects together in preparation for their final individual film submission.


This module is at CQFW Level 7