Essay Film Course

Throughout the year, the Lab runs a series of intensive 4-day courses in all aspects of audiovisual production related to research-led filmmaking. The course is particularly oriented around exploring the possibilities of the essay film as a distinct mode of filmmaking that is well suited to exploring academic research topics. The course is designed to be introductory, and no previous knowledge of filmmaking is required. Students work in small groups and learn how to use widely available DSLR cameras and popular editing software to create professional looking and intellectually engaging videos. By the end of the course they will have completed a short training film. This gives them an opportunity to put their new skills to use immediately and experiment with the form of the essay film in a stimulating environment and with the support of the Lab’s team.

The basic structure of the course is as follows:

Day 1 is spent completing various exercises to get participants quickly and functionally acquainted with DSLR operation and sound recording. We also spend some time on theoretical and practical considerations of organising a film shoot, which is put into practice as planning for the training films that the participants will make over the next days of the course.

Day 2 is given over to a supervised location shoot for the participants’ own training films.

On day 3 we acquaint ourselves with editing software (Premiere Pro), watch through the footage shot on day 2, and discuss strategies for the editing of this material.

Day 4 is spent completing the edit on the training films.

Here are some examples of what has been achieved by participants on recent courses.

Videos forthcoming

Birkbeck participants who have completed the training will be able to borrow equipment and use our editing suite free of charge, and they will get opportunities to practise their skills on paid Lab commissions. The course fee for Birkbeck students is £300.

The course is also open to participants outside the college. The fee for external students is £500.

Please see below for the dates of any upcoming courses. As well as the courses listed below, we are often able to arrange fully tailored courses to fit the needs of departments and organisations who would like to book group training. Please get in touch with us directly to discuss details.

Upcoming Courses…

Essay Film Course:

20th January – 23rd January 2018 (places available)


If you would like to explore the possibility of arranging a course at a different time, or if you would like to discuss running a course with a more particular scope or focus, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are often able to find ways to accommodate particular needs and timetables.