Creative Production (Film) MA

Develop, refine and challenge your filmmaking capabilities through practice-based research

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Overview

Bring your film proposal to life through our flexible framework for negotiated and self-directed learning. This MA programme enables you to pursue your chosen interest or specialisation through an iterative practice-based research approach that combines artistic and academic processes.

You’ll be supported by seminars, workshops, individual and group supervision, guest lectures and our modern filmmaking facilities. Our seminars and workshops provide a thorough grounding in practice-led research theory and methodology alongside a wider range of research in audiovisual storytelling and the arts. You’ll also have opportunities to collaborate with other Catalyst students from the Film & Visual Media, Acting and Music & Sound schools. 

Rather than supplying you with answers, the taught component is intended to stimulate curiosity, widen and deepen frames in your field of interest, grow conceptual reference and – most importantly – to provide a set of tools with which to explore and develop your personal research ideas. By identifying and engaging with the creative processes that your proposal demands, you’ll be given the scope to innovate and challenge your capabilities as a filmmaker, director, cinematographer, editor, writer, producer or audiovisual artist, whilst building an industry profile and vision.

During this intensive and challenging year (or 2 years, part-time), our expert tutors will supervise and guide you through a constant cycle of imagination, creation, critique, self-discovery and growth. 

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What is creative production?

Creative production is an intentionally broad term that not only encompasses traditional film production and cinematography, but also audiovisual art, interdisciplinary and multimedia works, narrative and world-building and creative nonfiction. You’ll investigate for yourself the most appropriate production methods to express your ideas as fully as possible. Then, go through a cycle of critique and hone back in on your proposal, allowing it to morph with newly-discovered concepts, meanings or influences.

Watching and reflecting upon yourself doing the action is an invaluable process. One which can convert vulnerabilities into strengths, barriers into new pathways and fears into exciting new frontiers for exploration. Consider this a turning point – a moment to define or redefine the next chapter of your career whilst asking yourself this essential question: Who are you and what does your work contribute to the field of cinema and audiovisual arts?

Course structure

Framework

The majority of the programme content is defined by the project you choose, so your proposal is the foundation of our iterative practice-based research framework. As you design and develop your own research programme, you’ll be surrounded by an inspiring community of students and tutors from around the world who will act as mentors, peers, collaborators, audience and fellow travellers.

Required attendance varies over the course of the year, but is expected between 8 and 12 hours per week, and half of that for two year part timers. You are expected to work a lot under your own motivation and in your own time.

Our approach to negotiated learning is split up into five stages:

Proposal

Applicants define their research agenda with an expected project outcome that is then negotiated and developed with a project mentor. 

Contract

Once approved, the study plan becomes a contract between the participant and mentor. 

Production

Production work is addressed in group critique sessions and individual tutorials. 

Assessment

Work is assessed against a set of negotiated criteria stated in the initial contract taking as the intended learning outcome as criteria. 

Feedback

Formative feedback is given throughout the semester through tutorials, group critique sessions and specific feedback related to the self-set criteria for the proposed outcome.

Assessments

During the programme you will submit five pieces of assessed work.

These investigations represent the body of your research enquiry. Each represents a trajectory of investigation into a different aspect of your overall research field. These will be unique to you, but the following is assumed:

Proposal

Produce a detailed research proposal and research contract and work plan agreed between the student and supervisor.

Investigation Piece 1

This work focusses on breadth, including contextual investigation of some kind. This may take the form of a literature review or an overview of an area, discipline or concept that is important to the research. It could also include more practical investigations, for example of an individual filmmaker, movement or genre.

Investigation Pieces 2 and 3

Study two aspects of your research in greater depth. This can take many forms, but it may include: concentrating on particular paths of artistic practice, focussing on the development of particular technical skills, developing an incisive conceptual framework for your work. A level of self-reflectiveness, including a relationship between theory and practice, is also expected. 

Final submission

The culmination of your research and learning. In this module you are expected to submit a substantial piece of original work, working with the full breadth and depth of knowledge, skills and experience you have developed throughout the previous four modules.

Workshop outlines

The course is divided into seven sections: Creative Nonfiction, Writing & Directing, Production Studio I, II, & III, Modern Cinematic Perspectives, Comparative Auteurs, Masterclasses and Supervision.

Creative Nonfiction

Learn the history and techniques in the field of creative nonfiction, both theoretically and practically, while gaining foundational knowledge in using practice-based research to produce creative artefacts. Topics include modes of documentary, archival and found footage, directing interviews and distilling the narrative.

Writing & Directing for Film

Comprising half of our practice-based workshops, these sessions will hone in on the craft of filmmakers as both storytellers and researchers through in-class prompts, scene work and analysis. Topics include David Mamet’s “The Four Questions,” story and character development, nonlinear storytelling, adaptation, alternative script structures and genre, script analysis, actions and emotional anchors, character facts, casting practices, actors in the moment and blocking the scene.

Production Studio I, II, & III

The other half of the practice-led workshops explores practical and advanced cinematographic processes, along with contemporary techniques in audiovisual art and digital/expanded cinema. Examples include: sequential storytelling, the cinematographer’s homework, analog filmmaking (Super 8), sonic landscapes and narratives, theories of montage, field recording/foley techniques and digital narratives.

Modern Cinematic Perspectives & Comparative Auteurs

After the initial introduction to research skills, these two discursive theoretical courses expose you to wider social debates and movements within cinema. The topics covered are not meant to directly influence your research, but rather to encourage you to reflect upon your own work and that of others with a more refined sensitivity. 

Modern Cinematic Perspectives explores theoretical debates such as semiotics, 21st-century hybrid cinema, postcolonial cinema in the Global South, sexuality and queer theory from Almodovar to Vachon and class in film. 

Comparative Auteurs investigates the work of both contemporary and legacy filmmakers from the lens of authorship, technique and collaborators. Topics vary each year, but past sessions have included: Sidney Lumet, Chantal Ackerman, Agnes Varda, Dee Rees, Hector Babenco, Kasi Lemmons, Kim Ki-Duk, Park Chan-Wook, Claire Denis and Sarah Maldoror.

Masterclasses

During the final semester, you will participate in a series of masterclasses focusing on expanded cinema, art direction, set management, distribution, film festival strategies, rough cut and post-production labs and sound design. The masterclasses will be tailored towards refining each student’s intentions, objectives and work towards the completion of their thesis production.

Supervision

Both one-on-one and group meetings with your supervisor are an essential part of the course. The individual meetings support successful research, while the group sessions are forums for project development, production management, critical peer feedback rounds. 

Is this programme for me?

Here are a few reasons why people decide to take our MA programme:

  • Developing and growing your own individual project, creative concept or film idea.
  • Strengthening and refining your creative vision and approach.
  • Deepening the relationship with your work within and beyond your own parameters.
  • Establishing your own distinct approach to creative production with research.
  • Expanding your understanding of other creative pathways.
  • Navigating between different aspects of film inquiry and concepts.
  • Engaging in independent practice-based research.
  • Developing new and innovative film production techniques.
  • Receiving mentorship from field and industry experts.
  • Realising the full potential of your creative work.
  • Joining a progressive learning community supported by a dedicated team of experienced facilitators.
  • Living and working in Berlin, one of the most exciting cities on the planet for filmmakers.
What is an MA project proposal and what should it contain?

Before filling in your application form, we strongly advise you to get an initial overview on terms like Artistic Research and Practice-based Research. Here are some definitions and discussions to get you started. We will discuss such ideas in more depth on the course itself (especially at the beginning) to help you design and initiate your project.

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“The MA treats you as an independent creative and, in some ways, as an artist. I find that incredibly empowering… The MA makes you really structure your work. You are held highly accountable for how you think about your projects.”
–​Alexandra Concordia, filmmaker and Creative Production (Film) alumna

Your technological playground

Get hands-on access to industry-standard facilities and tons of bookable gear

An international learning community

Our international creative campus is located at the historic Funkhaus in Berlin – it’s hard to imagine a better location for creative endeavour and learning! Through the lens of an international cohort of students, we aim to promote and support the exchange and debate of philosophical, political, social and ethical issues from a range of different cultures and backgrounds. 

Our engaged postgraduate community is then well-placed to spearhead these conversations and create work that addresses the challenges of a multicultural but ever more connected world – to see our shared human concerns, whilst celebrating our diversity and our mutually enriching differences.

“I liked the idea of working toward my own unique vision – with some guidance from the tutors – as opposed to creating projects that had to fit certain criteria.”
– Jennifer Jo Stokka, creative producer, writer and Creative Production (Film) alumna

Our tutors are industry-acclaimed experts in their field, with a passion for passing on their knowledge to others. 

Progression

Career opportunities

Our alumni have used their upgraded skills from the MA to secure work both in Berlin and beyond. Roles undertaken include: commercial directors and cinematographers, freelance production crew, post-production staff, casting directors, live television directors, university teachers and more.

Their creative works have gone on to garner recognition at such film festivals as FEST Portugal, Locarno Film Festival, Berlin Independent Film Festival, and the Cyprus International Film Festival.

Self-development and creative leadership

However you measure it and whatever artistic realm you are working in, most creatives would like to achieve success with their creative endeavour. There are many types of success an individual may want to achieve, from successful completion of an artistic exploration all the way through to financial security and a global audience. 

There are many skills required to develop these dreams into real and practical futures. Our optional Self-Development & Creative Leadership course is the ‘rocket fuel’ which will provide you with the frameworks, the focus and the drive to help realise your future.

Gain an understanding of how to take decisive action and communicate powerfully with others, and take an honest look at how you limit yourself. Develop the leadership skills needed to complete your creative project, bring your work into the external world and attract an audience to share, appreciate and follow your work. 

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“You can express your dreams with a film. It's like writing a book, but bringing to life what you saw in your head. It's really free as an expression, without limits.”
– Leonardo Greco, director and Creative Production (Film) alumnus

Admissions

Entry requirements

Applicants will be asked to provide: personal and educational information, documentation of their education experience, a detailed project proposal, sample of research/academic writing and a portfolio. Visit our How To Apply page for more detail.

MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

- Standard entry: Bachelor degree in a relevant discipline, with an Honours grade (e.g. 2:1 in the UK university system).

- Non-standard entry: We recognise that not all education happens in the classroom and it may be possible to admit you through a non-standard access route. If you do not possess the required formal qualification, but have acquired relevant professional or life experience, please contact our Admissions team.
- Language: The language of instruction in all our courses is English and applicants must demonstrate a level equal to IELTS 6. We do not ask for official exam results, but we will assess the standard of English in your application and support materials.

The most important prerequisite for attending any course at Catalyst is that you must be passionate about building and developing your skills as a filmmaking specialist, audiovisual artist or storyteller.

For more information, please contact our Admissions team and we’d be happy to discuss your opportunities to come study with us.

Admissions FAQ
Course dates and application deadline

Course start: mid-September 2024

Applications for entry to our courses in 2024 will open on Friday 1 December 2023.

Our application deadlines for entry to our courses in 2024 are as follows:

  • Deadline for applicants requiring student visa: Friday 29 March 2024
  • Priority deadline: Friday 5 April 2024
  • Final deadline: Friday 31 May 2024
  • Late applications: From June 2024 onwards

All international students requiring a visa to study in Germany should apply by Friday 29 March 2024.

If you do not need a student visa, we strongly recommend that you apply by our priority deadline (5 April 2024) for your best chances of securing a spot on your chosen course. 

We only accept late applications from those who do not need a student visa. If the course is full, you will be added to a waiting list. 

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Tuition fees (2024 entry)

We offer two ways to pay:

1-year Full-time

  • Single Payment Option
    Enrolment Fee* €895 + Tuition Fee €12,855 = €13,750
  • Instalment Payment Option
    Enrolment Fee* €895 + 10 instalments x €1,385.50 = €14,750

2-years Part-time

  • Single Payment Option
    Annual Enrolment Fee* €895 + Annual Tuition Fee €8,055 = €8,950 per year
  • Instalment Payment Option
    Annual Enrolment Fee* €895 + 10 instalments x €905.50 = €9,950 per year

* Note- Enrolment fee is non-refundable. It is due every year as part of the total annual fee.

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Open days, Q&As and taster workshops

Get a feel for Catalyst and our courses at a range of both online and in-person events. Join us at a Virtual Open Day or an Open Day at our campus in Berlin, chat to our programme leads at Meet The Tutor, or try a taster workshop. 

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Behind the scenes

Stories from our creative community

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