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Educating Independent Filmmakers

FEJ 7.1

Guest Editors

  • Dr Chris Nunn (University of Birmingham)

  • Rachel Carter (De Montfort University)

  • Dr Rachel Wilson (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)

Call for Abstracts


Hjort, M. (2013). The Education of the Filmmaker in Europe, Australia, and Asia (Global Cinema) (1st Edition ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Meek, M, ed. (2019). Independent Female Filmmakers. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Stoneman , R., & Petrie, D. (2014). Educating Film-Makers: Past, Present and Future (1st Edition ed.). Bristol: Intellect.

Stoneman, R. (2019). "The Academy and the Industry." Alphaville, 13-25.

This special edition of the Film Education Journal seeks to explore critical and emerging perspectives upon how practice-based film education intervenes to foster the next generation of independent filmmakers.

In defining practice-based film education, we draw upon Rod Stoneman’s contention that 'the role of [film] education is to be an agent of change—bringing forward critical practitioners familiar with the structures, equipped with the skills to deploy in work within existing organisations and companies but also able to act autonomously having learnt to create forms of social- and self-expression’ (Stoneman, 2019: p. 20).

Cheaper digital technology coupled with a period of rapid growth in film and screen ‘content’ on streaming platforms has enabled a generation of independent micro-budget filmmakers the opportunity to make films with commercial viability. Patricia White suggests in her preface to Independent Female Filmmakers: ‘low-cost high-quality digital production tools; proliferating cable, streaming and transmedia outlets; and peer-to-peer communication networks promise access to filmmaking for all. But without the public support for the arts […] there is no guarantee of access and sustainability.’ (ed. Meek, 2019: xviii). We are interested in responses to these claims.Proposals are sought which explore educational and pedagogical approaches that foster autonomous, enterprising and risk-taking in their filmmaking students.

The editors are also interested in proposals that interrogate the relationships between public funding for filmmaking, the commercial realities of the contemporary film and screen industries, and the role of educational institutions and programmes within this. For example, what is the role of the film educator in an era of content ‘abundance’, and how such abundance narrows or expands the range and kind of films available to, and desired by, aspiring filmmakers?

It our proposition that practical film education and industry training needs to ensure that it does not carve a narrow path in kowtowing to what may reductively be thought of as an “industrial imperative” (Petrie and Stoneman, 2014: p. 42) to focus on the big-budget mechanisms of production associated with the holy grails of Netflix, Amazon, and Disney. The pressures within the non-STEM Higher Education sector to deliver ‘employability’ outcomes are also pertinent. For an industry seemingly seeking innovation, new stories and new storytellers, it could be argued that such a narrowly defined “industrial imperative” is counterproductive. By encouraging wider exposure and viewing habits in our students, we are also working to improve recognition and appreciation for indie films and a better understanding of their place within the ways in which audiences engage with film in a contemporary context.

Hjort’s provocation that ‘the priorities and philosophies of institutions devoted to practice-oriented film education have a decisive impact on filmmakers’ creative outlooks, working practices, and networks, shaping not only the stylistic (visual and narrative) regularities that define distinctive bodies of cinematic work but the dynamics of a given film industry’ (2013: 34), provides food for thought when contemplating the educational environments that we wish to create for our students; those that encourage autonomy, experimentation, room for failure, and self-expression.

This special edition of the Film Education Journal therefore seeks case studies and pedagogic strategies which educators are deploying to help aspiring filmmakers find their feet in an increasingly complex yet seemingly monopolised industry.

International perspectives that address issues at all stages of filmmaking education are welcome. We also seek articles from colleagues working outside formal educational settings in more radical, informal contexts. While this special edition specifically seeks to address filmmaking practice, we recognise and welcome articles that address the ways in which theory, relating to film or otherwise, is deployed to encourage departures from mainstream commercial practices.

In the first phase we are seeking abstracts of approx. 300 words by close of play, Monday 24th April 2023. Submissions are particularly welcomed from authors outside the Global North.

Prospective authors will be contacted shortly after this, with a view to receiving full article submissions (between 5-7,000 words in length) by Monday 14th August 2023. The special edition will be published in June 2024.

For any queries pertaining to this special edition, please contact Chris Nunn:, CC-ing in

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