Refresh: The Value of Teaching Film and Media

Thanks to all of you for coming together today to share best practice and celebrate the value and diversity of teaching film and media in the digital age.

Thanks to UWE Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education (ACE) Widening Participation for funding this event – in particular Marie-Annick Gournet; the Digital Cultures Research Centre, especially Nick Triggs, and colleagues in Film Studies, Media Culture Practice, Linguistics and Education; UWE student helpers and alumni, and we’re also joined by youth from Knowle West Media Centre. And of course thanks to the Watershed Events team.

The fact that our funding has come from WP is significant and I would like us to think about the importance of film and media in this respect as an underlying theme of the day.  Film and Media are powerful educational tools with the potential to explore and celebrate difference. The BFI Media Literacy Charter calls for an integrated approach which combines the “3Cs”, which I’m sure you are all familiar with: “Critical Understanding, Creative Activity and Cultural Access.” So I’d like to think about Cultural Access when we talk about the value of what we do – and our first three speakers this morning will all touch on this in various ways.

My motivation for organising this event was the feeling that across all sectors of education, from primary and secondary to FE, HE and Arts, Media and Cinema educators – what we do is being devalued both culturally and economically – in the current political climate. Humanities and Arts subjects receive less funding and kudos than STEM subjects at all levels of the education sector, and film and media are often dismissed as “Mickey Mouse” subjects – so much so that at a recent MeCCSA 2013 conference (the subject association for Media, Communications and Cultural Studies) one of the speakers wore Mickey Mouse ears whilst fiercely refuting this nomenclature.


But, as was pointed out by a colleague in another subject association BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies) – it’s a false separation – film and media teaching engages with the disciplines of science, technology and engineering in its exploration of the histories of moving-image technologies, the theorisation of technological determinism as well as systems of representation, textual analysis, etc. which equip young people to navigate the rapidly changing media environment.

In terms of economic impact, the film and media industries make a substantial contribution to GDP – with industry growth outstripping the rest of the UK economy according to a UK Film Council report of 2012 – as well as being a valuable cultural export – promoting British cultural life and film tourism. The report, by Sam Moore (Oxford Economics), stresses the opportunities for diversifying and growing the export base beyond EU and US markets – again demonstrating the potential for Cultural Diversity.  Yet there is a danger that the reduction of investment in education in this area – part of a wider side-lining of arts and humanities subjects within the school curriculum, HE and beyond – from the highly controversial eBaccalaureate; to the ruthless undermining of undergraduate places and postgraduate bursaries (not to mention academic research funding) in the Universities and the dwindling resources available to Moving-image educators in informal and industry settings – if we don’t invest in these areas it will adversely affect our ability to compete in this market both economically and culturally, further down the line. See the reflection on the making of I Melt the Glass With My Forehead a film about the introduction of tuition fees:

Despite all of this there is excellent work going on across the field.  The BFI / DCMS Film Policy Review recommendations are gradually coming to fruition, with the imminent Birth of a Film Nation UK – excuse the DW Griffith reference 😉 – having the potential to broaden access to film and media education for 5-19 year olds on a national scale.

My motivation for organising this event then, is to celebrate the work that we do – to see it as a continuum (rather than divide and rule) – to share best practice, network with each other and to send a message to government that arts and humanities subjects in general, and film and media in particular, should be a funding priority, not subject to relentless cuts. If UK culture underpins a thriving economy then its educational base must be nurtured, not neutered.

So just a few words about the structure of the day.  This morning we’ve got three juicy speakers – Cathy Poole from the Curzon, Nikki Christie from the BFI and Dann Casswell from the BBC, who are each going to talk for about 20 minutes and field individual questions, followed by a half hour Q&A with the whole panel. We’ll then break for lunch at 1pm in Waterside 2. During the lunchhour we’ll be hosting a Tweet Chat on “The Value of Teaching Film and Media” to #refreshevent which will be beamed on a Tweet Wall. In the afternoon we’ll divide up for CPD workshops in here, in Waterside 2 and in the Pervasive Media Studio Event Space and Meeting Room. We’ll come back together in here at 4.30 to debrief and reflect on the day and then I hope you’ll join us for a drink in the bar at 5pm.

Charlotte  Crofts (Conference Convenor)


Conference Report

One of our attendees, Shannon Magness, has written the following conference report:

‘Refresh’ Reinvigorating Film and Media Teaching in the Digital Age

Watershed Media Centre, Bristol, Wednesday 26 June 2013, 10am-5pm

Organised by Dr. Charlotte Crofts (UWE Film Studies), with funding from UWE Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education Widening Participation and Support from the Digital Cultures Research Centre.

“An opportunity to share best practice, network, and let the Government know that film and media should be a priority” – Charlotte Crofts

The conference introduction by Charlotte Crofts expressed the need to join together as educators in Film & Digital Media to assert both the value of media literacy and that of the film and digital creative industries in the UK. A major theme was the diversity of learning opportunities enabled or made available through studying Film & Digital Media. There was a focus on envisioning the continuum of Film & Digital Media learning from primary school through to higher education, and on thinking about what leads Film & Media studies students to study these subjects at university. The devaluing of Media study was contrasted with the advantages the media industries bring as contributors to the economy and exporters of culture.

First thing in the morning was the main panel of three presentations focussing broadly on bringing film and media education to children in all years preceding university, from primary school to 16-19 year-olds (and “not only for the cleverest” students). Cathy Poole spoke about the START programme, which works towards “unlocking the arts for children”. In this programme the old Curzon Community Cinema (which contains shrapnel from WWII) is used as a learning site to so the children can learn about the various aspects of a working cinema and also feel at home in this art-world surround (for more information go to In the second presentation of the panel, Dann Casswell spoke about the BBC programme “Talent Ticket” which provides work experience in the media industry for students in selected secondary schools in Bristol to “show young people the benefits of education to getting a job that doesn’t feel like work” and to provide the BBC with a “staff in waiting” (for more information go to Thirdly, Nikki Christie spoke about the BFI Film Academy for 16-19 year olds, which includes a residential programme with visits to Pinewood Studios, BAFTA and the BFI National Archive (for more information go to Nikki was especially interested in giving students access to archive materials.

After lunch, there were two afternoon sessions. From 2-3pm I attended a session led by Josie Dolan of UWE Film Studies. Her talk focussed on the British Film industry, with special attention to the way Film 4 fostered art cinema. She then discussed how certain films helpfully trouble notions of British identity, focussing on the way The Crying Game (1992) ‘queers’ British identity using post-colonial themes. In the second afternoon session from 3-4pm I attended a talk given by Michelle Henning from UWE. She focussed on digital social media and its uses in and implications for student learning. Topics such as access, student expertise, and digital skills both in and out of education were addressed. Both of the sessions I attended were informative and engaging. Indeed, they could have been longer to accommodate introductory and case study elements.

In the final plenary session, Charlotte Crofts asked for attendees’ ideas on how to impress upon Government that British media education and literacy are important. I suggested that we might emphasize film’s place in teaching History—as the ‘new historicism’ as already popularised the teaching of seminal novels as supplement and counterpoint to traditional history study. I proposed that we might build and nurture links between Film/Media lecturers and lecturers of History who are interested in Film. I also suggested that materials such as archive film could be incorporated into students’ work, especially that related to history and identity—and that this could be done in conjunction with bodies such as BFI. Following this was a discussion of educational copyright allowances; the University of Sussex’s Catherine Grant was mentioned for the critical essays she creates, and her ongoing project, Film Studies For Free.

Other sessions that were running also looked interesting, but I had to choose! I was interested in sessions on iPad filmmaking, DSLR filmmaking and a Pecha Kucha session with the theme of ‘Sharing Best Practice’, but I think the sessions I chose represented the overall purpose of the conference.

Finally, I enjoyed networking with Film & Digital Media lecturers like Charlotte Crofts, Josie Dolan, and Michelle Henning, as well as other Film and Media tutors, freelance journalists and other conference attendees. The venue of Watershed Media Centre was an excellent setting for a relaxed day of serious consideration for this area of study. It was an intimate and productive day, and I think all who attended were happy they did.


We recorded the #refreshevent Tweet Chat and added links from some of the presentations and workshops on Storify – if you would like us to add any further links then please email be charlotte.crofts at’re also busy working on curating the documentation that UWE students and alumni were recording on the day and we’ll update you once this has been edited.

Thank you!

A huge thank you to all the presenters, helpers and attendees for making today a really special event – really felt able to celebrate the value of teaching film and make new connections.  Jess will be storifying the event here shortly.  I’ll be in touch soon re circulating email lists so we can all keep in touch – in the meantime if you’ve any links to your work or any references from today we can add them to the storify so do email me.

The Crying Game: Approaches to British Cinema

Dr Josie Dolan (Film Studies, University of the West of England)

Crying GameNeil Jordan’s 1992 film The Crying Game usefully exemplifies two interlinked, but highly distinctive, approaches to studying British cinema; firstly, the economics and institutional structures of the British film industry; and secondly, British films that represent a dominant British national identity for a global market and/or films that contest the meanings of ‘Britishness’ within the home nation. This session aims to use The Crying Game to signpost the scholarship and debates emerging from these approaches.

Recommended reading:

Street, S. (2009) 2nd edition. British National Cinema, London & New York: Routledge.

This well written and highly accessible book by an internationally renowned scholar gives an excellent overview of the key areas of concern within British cinema studies. It is readily available second hand on internet sites such as ABE Books, and Amazon and makes a worthwhile investment for anyone interested in British cinema. Whilst being slightly out of date, the first edition is far from redundant.

The Crying Game has received a vast amount of critical attention. One of the best is:

Woods, G. (2006) ‘Beyond the Pale: The Politics of the Crying Game’. In Griffiths, R. ed, British

Queer Cinema, London: Routledge.

Other relevant articles include:

Boozer Jr. J. (1995) ‘Bending the Phallic patriarchy in The Crying Game’. The Journal of Popular

Film and Television, 22, Winter, pp.172-179.

Dahlman, C. l (2002) ‘Masculinity in Conflict: Geopolitics and Performativity in The Crying Game’ in

Cresswell,  and Dixon, D. eds. Engaging Film: Geographies of Mobility, London: Rowland & Littlefield: 123-7.

Dyja. E. (2010) ‘The Crying Game’ in Studying British Cinema; The 1990s. Leighton

Buzzard: Auteur, pp 15-26.

Edge. S. ‘Women are trouble, did you know that Fergus?: Neil Jordan’s the Crying Game’.

Feminist Review 50, 1 July 1995, pp. 173–186. Link:

Giles, J.  (1997) The Crying Game, London, BFI.

Handler. K. (1994) ‘The Crying Game: Difference, identity, ethics’. Film Quarterly, 47 (3) 31-42.

Lyons. K. ‘Transcultural Cinema: Reading Race and Ethnicity in Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game’.

South Atlantic Review, Vol. 67. No. 1, Winter, 2002, pp. 91-103.

Lugowski.  D.  (1993) ‘Genre Conventions and Style in the Crying Game’.  Cineaste 20. (21).

Rockett, K. (1992) ‘From Atlanta to Dublin’. Sight and Sound. 2, June, pp. 26-28.

Walsh, M. (2000) ‘Thinking the unthinkable: Coming to terms with Northern Ireland in the 1980s

and 1990s’ in Ashby, J. and Higson, A. British Cinema, Past and Present. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 288-298.

Young, L. (1997) ‘Nothing is as it seems; Reviewing The Crying Game’ in Kirkham, P. and Thumim,  J.

eds, Me Jane: masculinity, movies and women , London: Lawrence & Wishart

See you tomorrow

Looking forward to tomorrow. Just a reminder that registration begins at 10am in Waterside 3. Info on Watershed and accessibility available here:

If you haven’t booked for the afternoon CPD workshops online, then you can sign up on registration. Places are limited so will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Let friends and colleagues know about the Tweet Chat at 1-2pm GMT on hashtag: #refreshevent.

Don’t forget to bring your fully-charged iPad and your charging cable if you’ve signed up for one of the iPad workshops.

See you there!

Attendees by geography

Really excited to welcome you all next week – thought you might be interested in a map of the geography of the attendees:


Predominantly from Bristol and the South West, but some people coming from as far as London, Northern Ireland and even Swizterland!