Hands on Film: Process and Practice


*New Dates Coming Soon*
Thursday Evenings, 6-9pm

This six-week course explores the unique aesthetic and tactile character of photochemical moving-image film, employing a DIY, hands-on-approach.


Tutor: Lydia Beilby

This six-week course explores the unique aesthetic and tactile character of photochemical moving-image film. Employing a DIY, hands-on-approach, this course will celebrate the wonderful qualities of film and ask, ‘what are the aesthetic and political reasons artists’ continue to make work engaging these methodologies, in a climate of digital prevalence?’

Together, we will watch and discuss a number of groundbreaking films drawn from the historical canon of experimental cinema. Taking creative inspiration from this work, we will explore the beautiful tactile materiality of the analogue filmstrip through a series of practical activities and experiments. We will delve into artisanal, hands-on-techniques in order to shoot, hand-process and project the 8mm films we make.

You will also cultivate an invaluable practical knowledge relating to the apparatus of the experimental practitioner; the camera and the projector. We will cover how to choose, operate and maintain this equipment, and we will look at creative and performative ways that the manipulation of the projection medium can enhance your work.

*Please Note: there will be no class on Thursday 1 February, with a full day shooting and processing on Saturday 3 February instead*

Week 1: Introduction to the course and the structure
Screening of seminal experimental works followed by a discussion around analogue practises and processes. What is so special about analogue film? What is experimental film, and in what ways is it relevant today?

Week 2: Cameraless Filmmaking
Working directly onto 16mm filmstrip to create a collective, abstract film. Making in dialogue with a piece of music (translating sound into image) we will paint, etch and collage onto the celluloid, and engage creatively with the repurposing of archival material.

Week 3: Introduction to Super 8
Cameras, history, techniques, methodology
If you have your own Super8 camera in good working order, you are encouraged to bring it along to the session.

Week 4 & 5 (same day): Shooting a cartridge of B&W Super 8 film | Hand processing Super 8 film
Working in pairs, participants will collaborate on shooting a short film in the historic old town of Edinburgh. We will explore different styles and techniques, with support on-hand to offer guidance and help troubleshoot as necessary. Using a DIY approach, we will hand process our films in eco-friendly chemistry. This tactile method is a lot of fun, and offers the chance to really engage with the magic materiality of film! Often creating unexpected results and imperfect beauty, we will embrace the unique aesthetic features this technique affords.

Week 6: Introduction to projection equipment and beyond…
Preparing film for projection.
Screening of our work (silent or with any soundtracks)
Expanded cinema; how we might challenge viewers expectations through the presentation of our work.
The concept of ‘live cinema’.


Courses are subject to minimum enrolment. Please register early, within five days of the start date, to reduce the likelihood of course cancellation.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking.

Students, anyone over the age of 65, and those in receipt of any form of benefits can claim the concessionary price, offering a 10% discount on the full course price. Valid proof of eligibility must be produced on the first day of the course. Please use the code CONCESSION when prompted at checkout.