Pittsburgh - London Film Program

The Pittsburgh-London Film Program aims to provide students with a uniquely rich academic and cultural experience, combining the highest level of academic expertise with the world class production skills of the Derek Jarman Lab. All the courses on the program take London as their focus and all seek to mix production with history and analysis.

To attest to the outstanding quality of this program, several of the Pittsburgh London Film Program student’s essay films have been selected to screen at the BFI Future Film Festival!

The program is composed of four courses, and two masterclasses. At all stages the program combines theoretical academic analysis and detailed history of film with an emphasis on film-making practice. Each course provides students with an inventive and rich configuration of seminars, weekly screenings, and practical film production. 

See a video about the program, created by one of the program's alumni here. And hear about the students' experience on the program here.


What You'll Accomplish

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity:

  • to study theory and practice of film production with renowed Hollywood screenwriters and British producers
  • to develop film production skills while working in the world-class Derek Jarman Lab
  • explore London with your camera, filming on the city streets to leave your semester with a portfolio of written work and short films

If your first thoughts of London are the Royal Family and Downton Abbey, prepare to be blown away. English history and culture are juxtaposed against streets lined with Indian restaurants and Chinese New Year celebrations. The birthplace of the English language is now home to speakers of more than 30 other languages – and that is not counting the variety of English accents you will hear. Skyscrapers tower over 17th-century buildings while Big Ben overlooks the River Thames. Study abroad in London and you find yourself constantly surprised by what you discover in one of the world’s most diverse and global cities.

Where You'll Live

Part of the experience is to live like a Londoner. The overwhelming majority of students choose to live in shared apartments – the English call them flats – spread across the city. While apartments are as varied as the city itself and no two flats are alike, all of them are located in safe neighborhoods and secure buildings. Regardless of where you live, you can expect a 45- to 60-minute commute to the CAPA Center.  We’ve got your commute covered with an unlimited pass for Zones 1 and 2 on the London Underground.

You can expect the following:
  • Shared bedrooms (2 or 3 students/bedroom, single bed or bunk bed)
  • Bedding, but need to bring your own towels
  • Shared bathroom
  • Shared kitchen 
  • Internet access (for general browsing, but not meant for heavy downloading or streaming)
  • Coin operated laundry 
  • It is not typical for UK residences to have air conditioning or dryers
Please note that meals are not included in the program fee.
You will receive your address, roommate information, and neighborhood description about 2 weeks before your departure for London.
We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions.

If apartment living does not appeal to you, homestays are also an option.  Email your Pitt program manager for more information. 

What You'll Study

The program is composed of four courses, and two masterclasses. At all stages the program combines theoretical academic analysis and detailed history of film with an emphasis on film-making practice. Each course provides students with an inventive and rich configuration of seminars, weekly screenings, and practical film production. All courses seek to reject the division between theory and practice and to provide teaching which articulates both.

Film and Media Studies Requirements Fulfilled by The Pittsburgh-London Film Program:
ENGFLM 1495 City Symphony counts for the Film Studies Major as a Category 1 National Cinemas and Filmakers
ENGFLM 1497 Urban Scavenger counts for the Film Studies Major as a Category 3 Film//Photo/Video Production
ENGFLM 1493 The City Made Strange counts for the Film Studies Major as a Category 2 Themes, Genres, and Theory
ENGFLM 1490 Political Media counts for the Film Studies Major as a Category 2 Themes, Genres, and Theory 
Information about how the courses on this program count towards general education requirements for different schools and campuses can be found here.  

Political Media (ENGFLM1490)

This class pursues three related lines of enquiry about cinema as a political practice:
1) Examining the ways cinema has been used by dominant groups – such as states, militaries, corporations – to advance both broad and specific goals for the political and economic management of populations. (E.g. the state development of propaganda; the corporate innovation of Public Relations; the development of a corporate financed and controlled mainstream industry producing film for commercial gain (sometimes in collaboration with the state).)
2) Examining the ways oppositional, radical, political groups from diverse perspectives have innovated and developed a political cinema to challenge power at either local, national, or global level. We will examine some aspects of the global history of these movements, from early oppositional cinematic practices to the flowering of a post-colonial cinema of resistance beginning in the 1950s, to the current proliferation of a digital activism like for example that seen recently in relation to the ongoing intifadas in the Arab world.
3) We will examine these practices, across history and geography, in dialogue with writing that sought and seeks to explore the politics of cinema and media, looking closely at manifestos written by cultural activists and traditions of political modernist scholarship on cinema. Likewise, our examination of the films will enable us to learn about the specific conjunctures of political and economic struggle. The films will help us learn about the past in ways often occluded in mainstream media, and in particular the enactment and struggle against forms of territorial and economic imperialism, and the more recent (post-1973) intensification of a globalizing capitalism enshrined in the neo-liberal agendas exported with devastating consequences from the industrialized West.
Our (expansive) goals are to understand the role film and media plays in the orchestration of power, and how this has been contested and transformed.
In the midst of our 3 broad agendas, the class pursues some pragmatic objectives:

  • It will expand knowledge of cinema history, including different histories of production, distribution, and exhibition. (We understand “cinema” here broadly to refer to the production and dissemination of moving pictures.).
  • It will explore different forms of this cinema (documentary, experimental, propagandistic, fictional) and lead us to explore the politics of form cross history.
  • It will explore the writings of cultural activists and academics as they examine questions about media, power, and influence.
  • It will produce knowledge about past political struggles as mediated through film (and push us to learn about the socio-political contexts in which the films were made and circulated).
  • Plus it will necessarily prompt questions about how different state systems engage with media and how the production and regulation of media are political acts that shape the possible public sphere. In pursuing these lines of enquiry our work will necessarily be inter-disciplinary, and we will draw in particular (but not exclusively) from scholarship in political history and political science, public policy, film, media, and cultural studies, history, and broadly progressive traditions of historical, cultural, and media analysis. 
City Symphony (ENGFLM1495)

The city symphony film emerged in the 1920s, when filmmakers were experimenting with the mobility of viewpoint enabled by the portable film camera and more sensitive panchromatic film stock. The city, in particular its interwar technologies of urban transport and machinery, provided the ideal testing ground for the newly sensitive and mobile camera. It demanded to be seen, and shown, in a new mode that for Brazilian director Alberto Cavalcanti, only film could provide. But of all the international cities that were given the symphony treatment in the 1920s – New York, Paris, Berlin, St Petersburg, Sao Paulo – London was missing. If London lacked its own ‘city symphony’ film in the 1920s, what were the significant representations of the urban experience? This course looks at the ways in which London both invited and defied the filmmaker’s gaze in this critical period of early cinema, and considers how a contemporary city symphony for London might be composed.
The city has been an integral part of the filmmaker’s vocabulary since cinema’s genesis in the late nineteenth century. The urban environment and the craft of film grew up together in the twentieth century, seasoned by various convergences of technology, one notable one in the 1920s with broadcast radio, telephony and the talkies, and another over the last fifteen years, with broadband, smartphone cameras, and digital media. This course bridges these two periods, drawing on history and theory to interrogate the form of the city symphony film essay, and develop an urban filmmaking practice that allows students to gather and formulate their own reflections on London.
The course will be run alongside Urban Scavenger, in which students will develop and make their own film within a taught theoretical framework. Students will be strongly encouraged to bring ideas from one to the other, and to combine critical analysis with practical filmmaking.

Urban Scavenger (ENGFLM1497)

This course takes the camera as a tool for the excavation of ordinary things scattered in the urban spaces of a modern metropolis. With a focus on the archaeology of banality and the relation between the public and the private we will explore the iconography of London through the lenses of surrealism, psychogeography and material culture studies. The course will look at a variety of moving image practices but with a special attention to the genres of the film essay, film diary and vlog, covered concurrently in the partner City Symphony course. By closely integrating practical elements with theoretical sessions, we hope to draw connections between the discourse on urban consumer society and the images surrounding it, between collecting objects and editing, between the order of things and creating a political narrative.     
Students will be asked to gather shots on a weekly basis responding to the discussions during the theoretical sessions. The shots will be uploaded to a dedicated video blog and commented on by the whole group throughout the term. Towards its end the footage collected by the students will be revised and they will be encouraged to use it when editing their own essay film.    
Methods of instruction will include screenings, in-class presentations and analyses, filming sessions, field trips to unusual London locations, crits or review sessions and editing supervision.

The City Made Strange (ENGFLM1493)

London has existed for more than two thousand years, and the ghosts of the recent and ancient past remain abroad in its streets and its culture. This course aims to explore the deep funds of strangeness and otherness that permeate London’s places and spaces, through examining films and television series that show the city as a brimming reservoir of past and future shocks.
The course will examine science fiction, horror and noir/neo-gothic cinema and television from all eras, with a particular emphasis on works that take London itself as a major part of their story. These might be disaster or alien invasion films that see the city as a site of destruction or devastation, horror films which render a familiar city frightening and strange, or noir explorations of London’s underbelly that expose sides of the city that are normally hidden.
The course will both present an alternative history of London on film, and also provide students with rich possibilities for the analytic study of film and television. Horror and science fiction are notorious as vessels for the expression of both social and political anxieties, and the selection of films would encourage analyses of both psychological content and broader contexts (areas might include, for instance, Cold War-era fears, body horror, racial or class concerns).
Readings will be both critical and complementary, and hope to locate uncanny London on film in relation not only to American cinematic tropes in genres such as horror, but also to the large fictional and occult literature which features London as a place of archaic energies and occult forces.
All students develop their basic skills in analyzing film texts, and will also develop a good grasp of long-trends and recent themes in British horror and science fiction cinema. They will gain insight into the ways that film can reflect and respond to contemporary social and political conditions and events, and the way that film and television relate to literature. Students will gain an understanding of horror and science fiction as key genres in British film, and gain awareness of some key points at which these genres in British cinema and television differ from their counterparts in US film.
As a result, students on this course will:
- understand and engage with the international history of cinema (as well as that of other visual media forms) and be able to ­place media texts within their social, political, cultural and historical contexts.
-have hands-on experience in at least one area of film and media production (e.g. photography, film, video, video installation, or digital imaging).
-be able to write clearly, coherently and skillfully about the cinema (its history, theory, aesthetics, and/or social/cultural context).

Industry Insider: From Showrunner to Final Cut (ENGFLM1499)

Two masterclasses over two separate weeks will be taught over the course of the term. 
Written in Disappearing Ink: Writing for the Screen(s)
In this week-long class we will consider the art, craft, business and history of writing for the moving image or better yet, writing for the screen(s).  We will cover the script building process itself from concept or assignment, to story construction, outline and drafts, rewriting and the kind of ‘rewriting’ that is entailed by the production and post-production processes themselves. While of course discussing feature film writing, we will focus much on writing for Television, and look at the ways television drama is in the process of reshaping in turn the way feature films too are written
Understanding How A Film Gets Made
There is an old Hollywood adage that to make a successful film you must make five films successfully. There is the film you script, there is the film you cast, there is the film you shoot, there is the film you edit and there is the film you release. The course will examine in detail a number of films from this perspective considering each stage of the filmmaking and how they are articulated together.

Pitt runs this program in partnership with CAPA: The Global Education Network and the Derek Jarman Lab. 

For more than 45 years CAPA: The Global Education Network has worked with institutions of higher education to build programs that meet students goals for learning abroad. The CAPA London Center is housed in 2 connected Victorian townhouses in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and their staff will be there to assist with any questions or challenges through out the program

The Derek Jarman Lab 

  • The Derek Jarman Lab is a media hub based at Birkbeck, University of London, seeking to bring filmmaking to the centre of academic research across all the disciplines of the university. Under the rubric of research led filmmaking the Lab teaches faculty and postgraduate students to use film both to disseminate and to deepen their research. The Lab is also active in organizing events, producing films and encouraging moving image research.
  • The Derek Jarman Lab is chaired by Colin MacCabe and part of the Birkbeck’s Institute. It is also supported by the University of Pittsburgh.
  • The Derek Jarman Lab’s first feature-length documentary, The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2016. Go to seasonsinquincy.com for details.
  • The Lab’s name comes from the film-maker, painter and writer Derek Jarman (1942-1994) whose work ranged from experimental super 8 to international features.
Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts

Oksana Stalczynski

Privet! I'm Oksana Stalczynski and I'm a Program Manager at the Study Abroad Office. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, was an exchange student and Russian Language Scholar at Reed College in Portland, OR and did a summer language program in Dresden, Germany. A study abroad experience broadens your horizon, grows your circle of friends and improves your career opportunities. That’s why I think everyone should do one!

Feel free to contact me to find out more about study abroad programs at Pitt, and/or to learn/practice some Russian.  Get in touch with me at Oksana.stalczynski@pitt.edu or 412-383-3237!


Your In-Country Contacts

Sarah Joshi

Sarah Joshi is the Director of the Pittsburgh London Film Programme. Sarah holds a PhD in Humanities and Cultural Studies, an M.A. in Humanities and a B.A. in Classical Archaeology. After finishing her M.A., Sarah taught for a Humanities and Philosophy department at a local college in California. While her M.A. thesis was on the missionary compulsion to write in the last quarter of the 19th century in India, her PhD research with the London Consortium was concerned with contemporary Hindi cinema and the negotiation of interracial relationships and cultural citizenship in diasporic-centric films. Sarah’s current research interest centres on the ‘new’ new parallel cinema in India. She is also producing a film, ‘LUX Imperium’, with artist Noah Angell and writer Francis Gooding. Previously Sarah was the manager for the University of London-Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and Associate Director of the Derek Jarman Lab. She has published on the Non-Resident Indian, as well as on representations of the Partition of India and Pakistan in popular film and literature.

Colin Maccabe

Colin MacCabe is Distinguished Professor of English and Film at the University of Pittsburgh and Executive Director of Pitt in London and the Pittsburgh London Film Center. Since 1985 he has divided his time between Pittsburgh and London and between literary criticism and film production. His website is www.colinmaccabe.com

Bartek Dziadosz

Bartek Dziadosz is the Director at the Derek Jarman Lab. He studied Law in Cracow and Contemporary Media Practice at the Westminster Film School. He made a successful career as a cinematographer and editor before devoting most of his time to the Lab. Bartek has just finished his doctoral research on editing. He was cinematographer on Spring, A Song for Politics and Harvest in The Seasons in Quincy sequence. He also directed A Song for Politics and edited Harvest. His own documentary on the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, The Trouble with Being Human These Days, has screened around the world.
Websites: jarmanlab.orgseasonsinquincy.combeinghumanthesedays.org

Lily Ford

Lily Ford is a historian and filmmaker with a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London, in the cultural history of flight. Her book on this subject, Taking to the Air, was published in 2018. Lily has herself made films on both contemporary and historical subjects (A Humbrol Art: The Paintings of George Shaw, 2018; Fallen Women, 2016), as well as producing films with others, notably the feature documentary The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, 2016. She is Deputy Director of the Derek Jarman Lab and teaches filmmaking practice and theory there.
www.jarmanlab.org | https://vimeo.com/167121358

Francis Gooding

Francis Gooding is a writer and researcher in music, art and film. He worked as a researcher and author on the Colonial Film: Images of the British Empire project (colonialfilm.org.uk). He is a contributing editor to Critical Quarterly, and is the author of Black Light: Myth and Meaning in Modern Painting(2009). He is a columnist at The Wire and a regular contributor to the London Review Of Books.

Laura Mulvey

Laura Mulvey is a Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of: Visual and Other Pleasures (1989; 2nd edition 2009), Fetishism and Curiosity (1996; 2nd edition 2013), Citizen Kane (1992; 2nd edition 2012) and Death Twenty-four Times a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (2006). She made six films with Peter Wollen, including Riddles of the Sphinx (1977) and Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1980). With artist/ filmmaker Mark Lewis, she has made Disgraced Monuments (1994)

Adam Simon

Adam Simon is a veteran of the Roger Corman film factory where he wrote and directed cult-classics Brain Dead (1990) and Carnosaur (1993), among others. He has written scripts for Oliver Stone, John Schlesinger, James Cameron, John Woo, Jackie Chan, and many others. He’s created miniseries and pilots for NBC, HBO, Showtime and USA networks, and Sony television, and directed and produced award-winning documentaries for BBC, Channel Four and the Independent Film Channel. His horror films include Bones – starring Snoop Dogg and Pam Grier – and The Haunting in Connecticut. He is also the creator and head writer of WGN’s TV series Salem.

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $9,314 $14,902
Program Fee $8,885 $8,885
Study Abroad Fee $400 $400
Total Billed by Pitt $18,599 $24,187

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare $1,000 - $1,200
Personal Expenses and Meals $3,000 - $5000
Local Cell phone $100
Visa (non-US citizens) $500

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information

What's Included

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 15 credits
  • Housing
  • Orientation in London
  • Cultural Events and Activities
  • An Unlimited Tube Pass for Zones 1 and 2
  • Excursions to Stonehenge and Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Health Insurance
  • Membership to the University of London at Imperial College Student Union
  • Access to the Derek Jarman Lab and film production equipment 


When You'll Go

The fall semester starts on Wednesday, September 4, 2019. Please note that because of the time difference you will need to depart the US no later than Tuesday, September 3, 2019
The spring semester starts on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Please note that because of the time difference you will need to depart the US no later than Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What Else You Need to Know

Background in either film production or critical studies is preferred. Please contact Oksana Stalczynski at oks5@pitt.edu if you are interested in the program, but might have a different academic background.
MUST bring an external hard drive
Background in either film production or critical studies is preferred. Please contact Oksana Stalczynski at oks5@pitt.edu if you are interested in the program, but might have a different academic background.