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Screen Studies

Still from ‘Loud Thoughts’ | Dir. Benjamin Ryan

Screen studies at the AFTRS has as its goal the broadening of students’ knowledge of visual storytelling and screen culture through an exploration of a range of questions such as: What makes film and TV relevant? Exciting? Popular? What can we learn from the history of cinema? What do films say about the time and place they come from? Why do certain movements and the innovations they embody matter more than others? What were the technological changes and aesthetic innovations that have characterised the evolution of visual storytelling? And what happens when we read films and other visual media through the lenses of theory, whether psychoanalysis, genre theory, structuralist, national cinema, auteurism, race, or feminist theory? The key question guiding this broad enquiry is: What can filmmakers learn from these explorations to enhance their own practice? The goal is to produce students who will be contributors to the rich tradition of Australian and global filmmaking.

Screen studies will, first, engage students in an exploration of the history of visual storytelling and the theory that shaped it in order to build broad, coherent, and/or an advanced understanding. Next, it will foster collaboration through better communication. And finally, it will assist students to think more clearly, creatively, and productively by fostering critical thinking.

Through viewing, reading, analyzing, and evaluating film, television, and theoretical texts, students will gain a better understanding of these art forms and their histories; become better at articulating their goals to themselves and to those they work with; and gain a better understanding of how their own creativity has been shaped by what has preceded, as well as the theory and practice underpinning it.

We will engage in a selective exploration the tradition of visual storytelling, as well as the equally long tradition of work by theorists and filmmakers thinking, talking, and writing about its purposes and how to best achieve their goals:

What is the purpose of cinema? What can it do that other art forms cannot? Is it political or apolitical? Can it elevate its viewers? Debase them? Is it philosophy? Escapism? A trance-inducing daydream? Pure spectacle? Capitalist propaganda? Should it be realist? Anti-realist? And is one better than the other? Has television eclipsed cinema in relevance? Is art possible? Is critique possible? Does it matter?

By analysing and evaluating visual stories from various periods, by reading theory and thinking critically through the changes in artistic, aesthetic, and ethical values that have shaped these texts over time, students will be better communicators; more knowledgeable; and better equipped to make the kinds of productions they aim to make.


Meet your lecturers

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Dr. Duncan McLean

Dr Duncan McLean is a senior lecturer in Screen Studies. A passionate teacher, Duncan has over a decade of experience teaching film history and theory to undergraduate students and has been teaching at the Australian Film Television and Radio School...

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Dr Tara Lomax

Dr Tara Lomax is a screen studies educator and researcher, academic author, and creative...

Courses with a strong screen studies foundation

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Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production

Become a multi-skilled content creator and develop your voice as an Australian screen storyteller.

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Master of Arts Screen

The Master of Arts Screen, available in 9 disciplines, offers shared subjects in screen studies, research & development, deep discipline learning and cross-disciplinary projects to allow you develop a dynamic and multi-faceted skill-set.