Film Arts


THE MOVING IMAGE is the fastest growing sector of the visual arts worldwide. The audio-visual experience is now at the heart of every mass communication medium. The Open Window Bachelor of Film Arts degree is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of this dynamic and contemporary art form.

The FILM ARTS programme offers an exciting immersion in audio-visual communication, with a wide range of skills that enable students to work in tomorrow’s demanding time-based media environment. Emphasis is placed on narrative and storytelling across all audio-visual moving image “platforms”. The programme is designed to offer the graduate a sustainable career by focusing on an area of specialisation, while encouraging an interdisciplinary audio-visual awareness.

This approach provides a flexibility that promotes lateral thinking in arriving at innovative problem-solving solutions in the corporate, entertainment and art environments. Students are made aware of the technological, socio-economic, cultural, and political context of issues facing tomorrow’s audio-visual communicator in Africa and abroad.

This qualification is intended for scriptwriters, broad base producer/director filmmakers, sound designers, 3D animators, motion designers, game designers, production designers and screen actors.

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Film & Television

If you want to experiment with the endless possibilities of connecting ideas through sight and sound, then this subject could be exactly what you are looking for.

The filmmaker holds the entire experience together: script, performances, cinematography, sound and the final edit. It’s knowing the balance of what to conceal and what to reveal; when to tense up and when to relax, that makes a film come to life and be the deeply affecting art form it is.

Offering excursions into commercial, subcultural, documentary and conceptual filmmaking, with a strong emphasis on the independent filmmaker’s production process, this is a cutting edge journey into digital audio-visual expression.

Careers include Film & TV Director; Feature Director; Editor; Advertising Director; Indie Filmmaker; Documentary Filmmaker; Corporate Filmmaker.

Second Year Film & TV
Elective Modules

HD Workflow Essentials 201

Prerequisites: None

Students investigate the high definition, digital camera and editing workspace. Students look at the technical aspects of the digital filmmaking process from filming and capturing data, to editing and exporting a final professional product, and the aim is to demystify the perceived complexities associated with digital filmmaking.

Lighting for Film 202

Prerequisites: Film & Television 101

Students explore the basic principles of lighting for film, with specific focus on the use of lighting technique and consideration for the studio and on-location environment, to create genre informed mood. Students are encouraged to explore visual effects using lighting and camera techniques over a series of practical sessions.

Documentary Cinematography 203

Prerequisites: None

Students make use of various camera and lens solutions in order to explore the process of planning and filming documentary and interview content. Emphasis is placed on understanding the application of specific camera equipment in various filming situations throughout a series of practical workshops designed to develop the skills necessary to make quick decisions on set and in the field.

Film Producer’s Toolkit 204

Prerequisites: None

Students unpack the complete film producer workflow: the logistics of initiating a project, creating a budget, gathering social media support, looking for funding opportunities, generating the full pre-production and production workflow with its related paperwork, and identifying distribution avenues and film festival outlets.


Third Year Film & TV
Elective Modules

Excursions into Essential Cinema 301

Prerequisites: None

Students investigate signature styles and approaches in filmmaking employed by celebrated directors, and look at how the work of these directors has influenced contemporary cinema. Students learn techniques necessary to critically assess film and develop a more informed and layered understanding of cinema.

Conceptual Filmmaking 302

Prerequisites: None

Students explore the conceptualising process with an emphasis on audio-visual installation artwork and conceptual filmmaking. Students are exposed to a variety of tools with which to kick start their creativity and begin formulating concepts that reveal individual creative identity.

Finishing Techniques for Film 303

Prerequisites: HD Workflow Essentials

Students focus on the final processes of preparing audio-visual projects for distribution in digital output media, with a strong emphasis on the workflow for professional high definition colour grading and compression formats for final digital delivery.

Production Design

If you are fascinated by cinematic space, compelling environments, different worlds, props, colour, makeup and costume design, then this subject is perfect for you.

Everything that appears in the film, from the clothing, furniture, makeup, colour and set design choices must work together towards one clear and unified message that supports the overall drama. And it is the production designer’s job to weave together a convincing and affecting film world. The course teaches you to analyse screenplays, research the world of a story, make concept drawings, draw storyboards, build models, miniatures and life-size sets, and define characters through costume, hair and make-up design.

This intensive course provides you with everything you need to know to create believable worlds for the camera.

Careers include Art Director; Character & Set Designer; Concept Designer; Model Builder; Storyboard Artist.

Second Year Production Design
Elective Modules

Storyboarding 201

Prerequisites: None

Students use storyboarding as a tool to structure a film sequence by visually mapping out the plotline. It aims to develop the ability to identify key visual moments and to be able to present the film visually as a guide for the film team to refer to.

Production Design Software 202

Prerequisites: None

Students are introduced to 3D design software as a visualisation, communication, planning and design tool for production design. Emphasis is placed on combining the principles of 2D technical drawing with the 3D opportunities the digital format offers.

Production Design Conceptualisation 203

Prerequisites: None

Students deal with how to go about translating written words into visual ideas. Areas investigated include design metaphor, psychology, atmosphere, character and environment. How to identify the significant aspects of a story and how to convert these into visual concepts that reinforce and communicate overall narrative themes and objectives is the main focus.

Costume, hair & make-up for film 204

Prerequisites: None

Students deal with how to create convincing screen characters using costume, hair and make up as design tools. Students explore how to conceptualise a character and the basic practical skills involved in executing a good character design. Emphasis is placed on how costume, hair and make up are used to communicate important story information about period, region, social class, profession and personality.

Third Year Production Design
Elective Modules

Thematic Spatial Design 301

Prerequisites: None

Students focus on thematically driven, site specific, temporary design scenarios such as exhibitions, events, expos, installations and fashion shows. The process of providing a conceptual, theoretical and physical framework for the interpretation of what is on display is explored and the objective of providing the viewer with a profound and meaningful experience in a spatially defined context investigated.

Psychology of Colour in Film 302

Prerequisites: None

Students explore how the use of colour influences emotional response and the perception of narrative content in films. Lectures are structured around the viewing of pertinent film references analysed to reveal the specific ways in which filmmakers have used colour to achieve and communicate their narrative objectives.

Visual Metaphor in Film 303

Prerequisites: None

Students explore how the use of visual metaphor, sign and symbol can influence the perception of narrative content. Depth psychology principles are used as working tools with which to begin generating meaningful visual concepts in film. Lectures are structured around the viewing of pertinent film references analysed to reveal the specific ways in which filmmakers have used visual metaphor to achieve and communicate their narrative objectives.

Screen Acting

If you love physical movement, characterisation, drama, improvisation, and most of all, the camera, you won’t be able to resist this subject.

Great acting is great acting – whether it happens in a feature film, a sitcom, a soap opera or a voice-over booth – but the rules for each expression are totally different. Learning to craft your performance, and fine-tune this sublime art, is like learning to speak many different languages. In this course, the focus is specifically on the screen performance.

The full gamut of acting is explored for the screen, and the screen actor’s position in today’s international film and television performance industry is fully investigated.

Careers include Film & Television Actor; TV Presenter; Corporate Actor; Voice-Over Artist; Casting Director.

Second Year Screen Acting
Elective Modules

Screen vs Stage 201

Prerequisites: None

Students learn that acting for stage is very different to acting on screen. Through practical acting exercises, students explore these different techniques of acting and analyse the requirements for each field. Through the viewing of footage, student investigate how film acting techniques have changed over the decades and what is required of the modern screen actor.

Screenplay from an Actor’s POV 202

Prerequisites: None

Students focus on how to interpret the screenplay accurately as an actor. Through practical depiction of pertinent scenes, students learn to break down and dissect the screenplay. Students look at how to collect characterisation clues from the screenplay.

Genre Acting 203

Prerequisites: None

Students study different genres within acting, including comedy, drama, action, classical and acting with green screen technology. Students explore specific performance techniques required from the performer. Students are also introduced to the differences in acting techniques applicable to the performance for sitcom and soap opera.

The Actor and the Camera 204

Prerequisites: None

Student actors learn to perform for the camera by hitting marks; making entrances or exits; dealing with props; adjusting between master, mid-shot and close-up. Film students gain experience of working with the actor on set and shooting out of sequence with both physical and emotional continuity.

Students also learn on-screen audition techniques and etiquette.

Third Year Screen Acting
Elective Modules

Voice-over Techniques 301

Prerequisites: None

Students discover the often-overlooked field of voice-overs as a genre of acting. Students explore both skills of directing and being directed for the voice-over performance in animation and film, both corporate and fiction. Students learn microphone technique and how to use their body for optimal vocal performance.

Preparing the Screen Performance / Screen Rehearsals 302

Prerequisites: None

Students explore the different audition and rehearsal processes. Improvisation technique for camera is also explored. Students will have the opportunity to observe the process, what takes place behind the camera and direct fellow acting students.

Commercial and Corporate Acting 303

Prerequisites: None

Students learn to apply acting skills to the needs and requirements of performing in commercials and corporate films. Students will become familiar with types and styles of advertisements, corporate film scenarios and infomercials.


If you can conjure up stories that take a grip of your heart and mind, and delve into the complexity of the human spirit, then this is for you.

A screenwriter practices the art of writing stories on which feature films, television programmes, animations and video games are based. These stories are the conversion of everyday life into distilled and powerful experiences that, like life, occur over time and have the power to affect, through dialogue and action, the deepest parts of our being.

A well-crafted screenplay is both a blueprint for shooting a film and a piece of creative storytelling in its own right. The course showcases the latest screenwriting techniques and is one of the few in the world to offer tuition in the art and technique of multistrand and multiform storytelling.

Careers include Feature & TV Series Writer; Script Reader-Editor; Film Critic; Copywriter; Editorialist; Novelist; Screenwriter.

Second Year Screenwriting
Elective Modules

Screenplay Structure 201

Prerequisites: None

Students learn how to break a story into three interdependent acts that comprise the beginning, middle and end of all tales. This three-act structure forms the basis of most screenwriting techniques.

Screenwriting for Ads & Corporates 202

Prerequisites: None

Students are instructed in the techniques necessary for writing exciting and viable television commercials and corporate videos.

Screenwriting for Interactive Media 203

Prerequisites: None

Students study the skills and techniques necessary to write for interactive media such as video games and websites.

Screenwriting for Short Animations 304

Prerequisites: None

Students will learn how to create viable story and idea-driven screenplays suited for animated film.

Third Year Screenwriting
Elective Modules

Writing Characters & Dialogue 301

Prerequisites: None

Students will learn how to craft authentic and colourful characters and dialogue by understanding the role that the back-story and character biographies play in screenwriting.

Television Series Screenplay 302

Prerequisites: None

Students learn the art and technique of writing a complete television episode for an existing television series.

Outlining & Developing Features 303

Prerequisites: None

Students will learn how to outline the feature film screenplay in a more detailed way than allowed by the synopsis and treatment. The module offers specific techniques for developing the outline into a fully-fledged screenplay.

Sound Design

If you are awakened by sound and how it affects the mood and meaning of a dramatic landscape, think about Sound Design.

Creating a soundtrack requires crafting the right synergy between silence, ambience, natural sounds, music, dialogue and action on screen, to create the perfect emotional landscape for the film story. This is the sound designer’s job, and it’s the art of immersing the audience completely into the film’s reality.

T.he course provides comprehensive training to enable the creation of dramatically appropriate, high fidelity audio content for film, radio, television, and games

Careers include AV Sound Designer; Final Mix Technician; Sound Supervisor; Sound Recordist; Production Mixer.

Second Year Sound Design
Elective Modules

Introduction to Pro Tools 201

Prerequisites: None

Students are introduced to one of the industry standard Digital Audio Workstations (sound recording and manipulation software) – AVID Pro Tools. The course includes a broad overview of using Pro Tools for audio production with a focus on post-production for film and television. This course is more than just software training; it serves as an introduction for many subsequent modules that require knowledge of Pro Tools for sound recording, editing and mixing.

Location Sound Recording 202

Prerequisites: None

Students learn the different concepts and techniques for recording audio on location. This module concentrates on gaining practical experience using production audio equipment (field recorders, boom microphones and lapel microphone), especially for production sound for film and TV. It also includes noise reduction, covering advanced techniques in improving and repairing sub-optimal or damaged audio.

Sound for Dialogue 203

Prerequisites: Introduction to Pro Tools

Students focus on every type of voice and dialogue recording, other than recording on location. Students learn an array of concepts and approaches when working with spoken voice. This includes narration, voice-overs, dialogue editing, voice processing and Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR).

Sound for Games 204

Prerequisites: Introduction to Pro Tools

Students learn that a game sound designer needs to understand the game production pipelines and how sound design fits into this. Game sound also has added levels of interaction and requirements for immersion. This module includes the typical game audio workflow, working with sound effects libraries and other sound elements, and audio integration. The course is based on audio in Pro Tools and Unity, including more advanced audio middleware.

Third Year Sound Design
Elective Modules

Acoustics 301

Prerequisites: None

Students explore the science of acoustics – why spaces sound like they do and how this affects both listening and recording. The module covers acoustic measurement and calibration, methods for acoustic control, room design and treatment, as well as considerations for monitoring and playback. The best microphones and speakers in the world are not worth much if your room has bad acoustics. Learn how to identify and correct these problems.

Sound Perception 302

Prerequisites: None

Students are introduced to the concepts behind how the brain deals with sound and music, including sound perception, sound cognition and the psychological and emotional aspects of sound and music in sound design. This module also includes music selection, music editing and music literacy.

Audio Finishing Techniques 303

Prerequisites: Introduction to Pro Tools

Students learn about different post-production delivery requirements, standards and workflows, including mastering audio for various platforms and media. Students are exposed to the concepts behind final dynamic range manipulation and equalisation, loudness and level standards for broadcast, CD and other platforms.

General Elective Modules Applicable to
all Film Arts Students

Research Skills 303

Prerequisites: Film Theory 201

Students are introduced to research in the different academic disciplines and are instructed in researching live action and animated film production. Students study the principles, concepts and methods of rigorous, open-ended humanities-based research and academic writing, with an emphasis on the role of critical thinking. In addition, they study the foundational role of analysis and critical interpretation in both reading research and film criticism.

Professional Practice 304

Prerequisites: All Film Arts students must complete this subject on Level 3

Students are introduced to subject specific professional practice and general business principles and procedures. Project and personal financial management essentials are described and issues of Tax, Vat and Labour Law elaborated. Students are guided through the concepts and conventions underpinning business practices such as agreements, contracts, project schedules and general bookkeeping. Emphasis is placed on developing a thorough understanding of key professional practice components to enable them to enter the workplace as confident and informed professionals.

Package Information

The Generalist Writer / Director


The Actors Director


Film Visual Designer Generalist


The Screen Performer


Screenwriter Generalist


Film and TV Sound Generalist



2nd/3rd Year

Open your window to infinite possibilities…

Department Heads

Stephan Calitz

Stephan Calitz

Practical Coordinator
Subject Manager: Game Design

BA (Visual Communication Design) OWI
Enrolled for BA Hons (Visual Communication) OWI

Jozua Loots

Jozua Loots

Academic Coordinator
Subject Manager: Sound Design

B IS (Information Science) UP
B IS Hons (Information Science) (Cum Laude) UP
MMus (Music Business & Technology) (Cum Laude) UP


Adriaan de la Rey

Adriaan de la Rey

Subject Manager: Film and Television

BA (Visual Communication) OWI
BA Hons (Visual Communication) OWI

Henry Smith (SASC)

Henry Smith (SASC)

Subject Manager: Cinematography

N Dip (Film and Video) TUT
BA (Ed) UP

Hougaard Winterbach

Hougaard Winterbach

Senior Lecturer:
Story & Ritual

BA Fine Arts (Jewellery Design) US
M Tech Fine Arts (Sculpture) TUT

Jaco van der Merwe

Jaco van der Merwe

Subject Manager: Film Theory

PGCE (Cum Laude) UNISA

Louwrens Ferreira

Louwrens Ferreira

Lecturer: Sound Design

Enrolled for Master of Composition by Research WITS

Loraine Beaton

Loraine Beaton

Subject Manager: Screen Acting

BA Fine Arts (with Hons) UP
BA Hons (Writing, Directing and Performance) RHODES
Enrolled for MADA (Directing) WITS

Marinda Botha

Marinda Botha

Subject Manager: Traditional Animation and Puppetry

BA (Drama Performing Arts) UP
BA (English Literature) UP
Voice Work & Performance, Actor’s Centre, London

Mark Kirby-Hirst

Mark Kirby-Hirst

Lecturer: Film Theory

BA (Classics and Psychology) UND
BA Hons (Classics) UND
MA (Classics) UKZN
BA Hons (Ancient Greek) UKZN
PhD (Classics) UKZN

Enrolled for MA (Communication Science) UNISA

Pluto Panoussis

Pluto Panoussis

Dean of Academics

BAS (Bachelor of Architectural Studies) UCT
H Dip (Film & Television) Cape Town Film & Television School

Sean Daniels

Sean Daniels

Lecturer: Screenwriting

BA (Film & Television) Curtin University of Technology, Perth
BSA Hons (Bachelor of Screen Arts) Curtin University of Technology, Perth
Enrolled for MA (Creative Writing) UP

Stavros Halvatzis

Stavros Halvatzis

Senior Lecturer: Screenwriting / Honours Research

BA Hons UJ
Post Graduate Diploma London International Film School
PhD (Narrative Theory & Practice) University of S. Queensland, Australia

Michael Angelopulo

Michael Angelopulo

Subject Manager: Production Design / 3D Design

BAS (Bachelor of Architectural Studies) UCT
B Arch (Bachelor of Architecture) UCT

The Open Window (Pty) Ltd (company registration 1973/015860/07) is registered as a Private Higher Education Institution by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) with Registration Certificate Number: 2000/HE07/016. Open Window (Pty) Ltd courses are accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) under the Higher Education Act, 1997. For more information, please contact Open Window on 012 648 9200.
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