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PhD in Cinematography by Practice


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#1 Alexandre de Tolan

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 05:30 AM

Dear all,

 

After many years of camera operating I've been invited to lecture in a cinema course on a local college, and to increase the chances of being hired next year (and thereafter), I've been advised to pursue a PhD.

 

I've written my 300 page Master thesis about 15 years ago, and I remember that it was a painful process for me. I'm a much more practice than a writer kind of guy.

 

For some time now, Bologna implement Masters and PhDs by practice. Yes, they have to be accompanied by a written document that justifies the thesis demonstrated by practice, but nothing comparable to a 500 page thesis.

 

This seems a brilliant opportunity for me to enrol on a PhD and direct my first movie. Yes, a thesis movie but a movie nonetheless.

 

I'm now turning to this community for anyone who feels that can, and want to share with me what can be a thesis idea for a PhD in Cinematography by Practice.

 

I know that this is not a common topic on here and probably is an odd one, but any ideas will be welcome and appreciated.

 

Thank you all in advance,

Alex


Edited by Alexandre de Tolan, 16 August 2016 - 05:32 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 11:15 AM

I've never heard of a PhD in cinematography or filmmaking in general -- that tends to be reserved for more academic studies, like the history of filmmaking, etc.  So I have no idea how a thesis film can get someone a PhD (usually the term "thesis" itself is reserved for what you create to get a Masters degree, which can be a film... but for a PhD candidate, you write a "dissertation" based on a thesis.)

 

From an online source:

 

1. A thesis is a hypothesis or conjecture. 

 
2. A PhD dissertation is a lengthy, formal document that argues in defense of a particular thesis. (So many people use the term ``thesis'' to refer to the document that a current dictionary now includes it as the third meaning of ``thesis''). 
 
3. Two important adjectives used to describe a dissertation are ``original'' and ``substantial.'' The research performed to support a thesis must be both, and the dissertation must show it to be so. In particular, a dissertation highlights original contributions
 
Now how all this applies to getting a PhD for cinematography, I don't know.  If your school has done it before, I'm sure they have some precedents to show you.

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#3 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:13 PM

Well, I'm no academic, but I think a pretty fascinating thesis would be to examine the development and changing aesthetic of motion picture lighting throughout history, from the earliest silent pictures of the 19th century, right up to the teal-and-oranged glory of the naughties.

 

A conceit that would allow you to travel through these periods and examine how things were done, and how they've changed, would provide for a very intersting story (for cinematographically minded peeps at least).


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:25 PM

If you've read the book "Hollywood Lighting" by Patrick Keating, it certainly does some of that but for a more limited period of the studio era.  And it clearly reads like a PhD dissertation that found a publisher.

 

I think an academic advisor would tell a PhD candidate that a dissertation that covers the entire history of cinema in terms of visual aesthetics and lighting was too broad, because either the final dissertation would take more than a decade to write and be dozens of volumes long just to be thorough enough to be considered PhD-quality, or it would be too superficial of an overview to qualify for a PhD. A PhD work has to be quite in-depth and detailed, so even the examination of a few decades of filmmaking would create quite a hefty dissertation.


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#5 Alexandre de Tolan

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 04:09 PM

 

I've never heard of a PhD in cinematography or filmmaking in general -- that tends to be reserved for more academic studies, like the history of filmmaking, etc.  So I have no idea how a thesis film can get someone a PhD (usually the term "thesis" itself is reserved for what you create to get a Masters degree, which can be a film... but for a PhD candidate, you write a "dissertation" based on a thesis.)

 

(...)

 
Now how all this applies to getting a PhD for cinematography, I don't know.  If your school has done it before, I'm sure they have some precedents to show you.

 

 

Hello David and thank you for chiming in.

 

Bellow is a link to a "film thesis" made by a mate I've met at Royal College of Arts in London, the college where he did his PhD:

 

http://www.imdb.com/...ref_=fn_al_tt_1

 

I know that there are several more. In Europe at least, almost every renowned college offers a PhD by practice program nowadays.

 

The film I'm mentioning here is for sale on DVD. I'm going to see if I can put my hands at the paper which accompanied that film thesis.

 

Well, I'm no academic, but I think a pretty fascinating thesis would be to examine the development and changing aesthetic of motion picture lighting throughout history, from the earliest silent pictures of the 19th century, right up to the teal-and-oranged glory of the naughties.

 

A conceit that would allow you to travel through these periods and examine how things were done, and how they've changed, would provide for a very intersting story (for cinematographically minded peeps at least).

 

 

I think an academic advisor would tell a PhD candidate that a dissertation that covers the entire history of cinema in terms of visual aesthetics and lighting was too broad, because either the final dissertation would take more than a decade to write and be dozens of volumes long just to be thorough enough to be considered PhD-quality, or it would be too superficial of an overview to qualify for a PhD. A PhD work has to be quite in-depth and detailed, so even the examination of a few decades of filmmaking would create quite a hefty dissertation.

 

Thank you Mark, but I think David is wright on this one. That is a very generic topic. It must be a much more constricted one for this purpose. 


Edited by Alexandre de Tolan, 17 August 2016 - 04:11 PM.

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