Choosing the best MA Filmmaking Program for Documentaries. Goldsmiths or UCL?

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docfilmmaker12
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Hi! I'm shortlisted for a full-time scholarship award in the UK and now I have to pick the postgraduate program I would like to join. I'm keen on programs that focus on documentary filmmaking and so far I've narrowed down to 2 choices: Goldsmiths (MA Filmmaking--Screen Documentary Pathway) and UCL (MA Ethnographic and Documentary Filmmaking).

They both to have their pros and cons and now I'm really having a hard time picking my top choice. I've already received an unconditional offer from Goldsmiths, I'm just waiting on UCL, which I hope will be positive as well.

Can anyone who has attended any of these programs give some input? Thank you!
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PQ
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(Original post by docfilmmaker12)
Hi! I'm shortlisted for a full-time scholarship award in the UK and now I have to pick the postgraduate program I would like to join. I'm keen on programs that focus on documentary filmmaking and so far I've narrowed down to 2 choices: Goldsmiths (MA Filmmaking--Screen Documentary Pathway) and UCL (MA Ethnographic and Documentary Filmmaking).

They both to have their pros and cons and now I'm really having a hard time picking my top choice. I've already received an unconditional offer from Goldsmiths, I'm just waiting on UCL, which I hope will be positive as well.

Can anyone who has attended any of these programs give some input? Thank you!
Will your scholarship cover an NTFS course? If so they have far better contacts with industry than either Goldsmiths or UCL.
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docfilmmaker12
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(Original post by PQ)
Will your scholarship cover an NTFS course? If so they have far better contacts with industry than either Goldsmiths or UCL.
Thanks for the suggestion but it's really just between these two (Goldsmiths or UCL). Do you have insights on the programs they offer?

I'd prefer a program that offers strong support (a lot of one-on-one mentoring) during the program and also the opportunity to network extensively.

From what I read, Goldsmiths has a very good reputation in the arts and media. But as a university as a whole, I was a bit surprised it doesn't rank so high. I'm now thinking if I should be concerned with the ranking and what that would mean in future career prospects.

UCL seems to rank higher than both and I know they founded the Open Documentary Festival in London. I'm just concerned if the program (MA in Ethnography and Documentary Filmmaking) is really good and if students get a lot of one-on-one mentoring with the tutors.

Anyone knows?
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PQ
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(Original post by docfilmmaker12)
Thanks for the suggestion but it's really just between these two (Goldsmiths or UCL). Do you have insights on the programs they offer?

I'd prefer a program that offers strong support (a lot of one-on-one mentoring) during the program and also the opportunity to network extensively.

From what I read, Goldsmiths has a very good reputation in the arts and media. But as a university as a whole, I was a bit surprised it doesn't rank so high. I'm now thinking if I should be concerned with the ranking and what that would mean in future career prospects.

UCL seems to rank higher than both and I know they founded the Open Documentary Festival in London. I'm just concerned if the program (MA in Ethnography and Documentary Filmmaking) is really good and if students get a lot of one-on-one mentoring with the tutors.

Anyone knows?
I'd say Goldsmiths has the more established course with more experienced teaching staff. The UCL course seems very new (they talk about what careers you *could* go into rather than say what recent graduates have done (and where they do talk about graduates they talk about graduates from other courses who have gone into filmmaking....usually with an NTFS diploma!)) and is relying a lot on visiting tutors coming in from industry (which is good in some ways but also means they're not experienced teachers and you wont be their top priority). Add in that Goldsmiths course is based in their Media & Communications school (alongside the accredited Journalism degrees) whereas UCL is based in a sociology department and I think I'd definitely go with Goldsmiths over UCL personally (although NTFS would beat both in a heartbeat - and depending on the type of documentary you're interested in UWE would be better given their BBC wildlife links). UCL is bigger and older than Goldsmiths and offers a broader range of subjects - so they do tend to have a higher profile generally...but in media circles goldsmiths is better known.
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docfilmmaker12
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(Original post by PQ)
I'd say Goldsmiths has the more established course with more experienced teaching staff. The UCL course seems very new (they talk about what careers you *could* go into rather than say what recent graduates have done (and where they do talk about graduates they talk about graduates from other courses who have gone into filmmaking....usually with an NTFS diploma!)) and is relying a lot on visiting tutors coming in from industry (which is good in some ways but also means they're not experienced teachers and you wont be their top priority). Add in that Goldsmiths course is based in their Media & Communications school (alongside the accredited Journalism degrees) whereas UCL is based in a sociology department and I think I'd definitely go with Goldsmiths over UCL personally (although NTFS would beat both in a heartbeat - and depending on the type of documentary you're interested in UWE would be better given their BBC wildlife links). UCL is bigger and older than Goldsmiths and offers a broader range of subjects - so they do tend to have a higher profile generally...but in media circles goldsmiths is better known.

Thanks! That's very helpful! I did check on NTFS when I was first looking for programs to apply to, but unfortunately, their MA in Directing Documentary does not meet the parameters of my scholarship (it's for 2 years and my scholarship only covers 1 year MA courses).

Sorry about that bit when I said UCL ranks better than both, I was thinking of Goldsmiths and Edinburgh College of Art, where I also got an unconditional offer. Their MA in Film Directing (https://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/study/postg...irecting-mfama) is entirely focused on documentaries and has close ties to the Scottish Documentary Institute (it's actually housed inside the college), so I thought it would be a good choice. But on 2nd thought, maybe I could benefit from studying in London network-wise? And that Goldsmiths and UCL have a stronger reputation?

Would you have any thoughts on this?

Thank you very much for your time! I really appreciate this. (I have to make a final decision very soon. Yikes.)
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PQ
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(Original post by docfilmmaker12)
Thanks! That's very helpful! I did check on NTFS when I was first looking for programs to apply to, but unfortunately, their MA in Directing Documentary does not meet the parameters of my scholarship (it's for 2 years and my scholarship only covers 1 year MA courses).

Sorry about that bit when I said UCL ranks better than both, I was thinking of Goldsmiths and Edinburgh College of Art, where I also got an unconditional offer. Their MA in Film Directing (https://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/study/postg...irecting-mfama) is entirely focused on documentaries and has close ties to the Scottish Documentary Institute (it's actually housed inside the college), so I thought it would be a good choice. But on 2nd thought, maybe I could benefit from studying in London network-wise? And that Goldsmiths and UCL have a stronger reputation?

Would you have any thoughts on this?

Thank you very much for your time! I really appreciate this. (I have to make a final decision very soon. Yikes.)
Yeah - NFTS is great - but very expensive so I'm not surprised it wouldn't qualify for the scholarship

ECA (well Screen Academic Scotland which is made up of ECA and Edinburgh Napier) is a CILECT member film school (international industry accreditation) (and is a Creative Skillset accredited course (UK industry accreditation) - so is the Goldsmiths course although they aren't CILECT members) - so has excellent links with industry. The UK film industry (and particularly the documentary industry) is not as London-centric as many people assume....and the most of the London arts and media scene relocate to Edinburgh for the festival for the summer anyway!

The UCL course is really bottom of the three you've mentioned by a long way.
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docfilmmaker12
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(Original post by PQ)
Yeah - NFTS is great - but very expensive so I'm not surprised it wouldn't qualify for the scholarship

ECA (well Screen Academic Scotland which is made up of ECA and Edinburgh Napier) is a CILECT member film school (international industry accreditation) (and is a Creative Skillset accredited course (UK industry accreditation) - so is the Goldsmiths course although they aren't CILECT members) - so has excellent links with industry. The UK film industry (and particularly the documentary industry) is not as London-centric as many people assume....and the most of the London arts and media scene relocate to Edinburgh for the festival for the summer anyway!

The UCL course is really bottom of the three you've mentioned by a long way.
Thank you. You're really helping me with this!

I hope you don't mind me asking more. How about the student life in London vs. Edinburgh? And would you know anything about the culture in these 2 schools?

I read that Goldsmiths is very liberal and students form a close relationship with their tutors, but I haven't heard much about how it is in ECA.

Location-wise, I read that Goldsmiths is somewhere in an undesirable part of London (Lewisham?). I understand that Edinburgh is beautiful, but is it totally worth it to choose it over a leading global city like London?

I really appreciate all your help here!
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Goldsmiths, University of London
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Not here to influence your decision (Edinburgh is an absolutely incredible city), but to defend poor Lewisham!

This is a chilled out and friendly area, especially by London standards, with a lovely community vibe and green spaces. :party:

(Original post by docfilmmaker12)
Thank you. You're really helping me with this!

I hope you don't mind me asking more. How about the student life in London vs. Edinburgh? And would you know anything about the culture in these 2 schools?

I read that Goldsmiths is very liberal and students form a close relationship with their tutors, but I haven't heard much about how it is in ECA.

Location-wise, I read that Goldsmiths is somewhere in an undesirable part of London (Lewisham?). I understand that Edinburgh is beautiful, but is it totally worth it to choose it over a leading global city like London?

I really appreciate all your help here!
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ceu
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Well UCL seems to have won the One World Media Award Best Student Film for the last three years, 16-18 : https://www.oneworldmedia.org.uk/awards/winners/they also seem to have recruited the two filmmakers who ran the NFTS program on the ground (Longinotto and Oord) and now have Sophie Fiennes on board too - http://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/st...ry-by-practice ... I'd do your own research to be honest and go to the open days when you can meet students... Factors like what equipment they let you have (UCL seems to give you a camera, legs and mikes for the whole year) etc etc are also to be considered.
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yoyoyoga
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hello there! I m also considering the MA Documentary filmmaking too.Just curious, how about LCC's MA Documentary Film compared to ECA and Goldsmiths?Whats the school teaching vibes among these three schools?
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SidFA
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Hey there! Keen to know what you chose? And, how it went? I am at the same crossroad.
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