Business Skills and Concepts for Independent Film

Module description

Taught in conjunction with the University of Exeter Business School, this module introduces you to theoretical and practical concepts related to budgeting, financing, intellectual property, and business strategy, and applies these concepts directly to the international film industry. You will receive rigorous and honest insights into the realities of entrepreneurial activity and financial management, as well as an understanding of the role international film companies play in the modern entertainment and film economy.

There are no pre-requisites for this module and it assumes that you will not have studied business or business subjects before.

Additional Information

Internationalization - You will work with a number of case studies in this module to help you engage with the material and gain an international perspective on the business world and how this relates to the film industry. These include a number of international studies, such as music streaming website Spotify’s growth strategy and film distribution company Red Box.

Sustainability - All of the resources are available through ELE (Exeter Learning Environment).

External Engagement – Guest speakers will include leading intellectual property lawyer, Ken Dearsley. The team teaching on the module also have a wealth of experience outside academia –in the media, creative, and financial industries, which they bring to the classes and assignments.

Employability - You will develop a number of transferable skills including presenting ideas at board level, team-working, problem-solving, numeracy, research, pitch writing, and negotiating.

Full module specification

Module title:Business Skills and Concepts for Independent Film
Module code:BEMM127
Module level:M
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Mrs Sarah Rose - Convenor
  • Dr Claire Dinan - Lecturer
  • Ms Joanne Abraham - Lecturer
  • Dr Sotiris Lalaounis - Lecturer
Module credit:30
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:

11: 1 x 2 hour seminars, except week 5 which will be taught as a single block of 6 hours.

Module aims

This module is built on joint business school/film industry teaching and is intended to build core competencies and contextual knowledge needed to work in the international film business. The curriculum balances generic business content, such as accounting, tax, business entity structures, funding and the ability to prepare “pitch” documents with skills of particular use in the media industries, including Intellectual Property Law, marketing, contracts and negotiation.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. examine business models and business plans for different elements of the creative industries
  • 2. identify and evaluate the key feature of Intellectual Property Law and Systems
  • 3. appraise the impact current IP issues have on the film industry and predict how this will change in the future
  • 4. distinguish between marketing of goods and ideas and explain the different approaches needed to successfully pitch film ideas to funders
  • 5. compose documents and presentations that synthesise a range of business skills and concepts to make an effective business case
  • 6. understand the key financial components in a business plan
  • 7. create a basic budget and cash flow forecast for a film project
  • 8. appreciate the options for and complexities in financing

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 9. demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge of the ways in which the international film business needs to be understood as constituting discrete but interlocking phases of development, production, and post-production, and to be able to apply this knowledge to produce advanced analyses of key case studies.
  • 10. demonstrate the skills required to create one, or a series of innovative creative industry products and the development of an appreciation for how best to promote those products in order to get them to market with the appropriate industry promotional materials.
  • 11. demonstrate an advanced approach to the study of the international film business in terms of the inter-relation of various commercial, technological, artistic, and regulatory factors, and to conduct research and engage in critical discussion and debate.
  • 12. demonstrate understanding and appreciation of the skills required to undertake an assessment of film finance, sales, distribution and exhibition practices.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 13. present ideas to different audiences using appropriate media
  • 14. persuade funders and other key stakeholders of the soundness of a business case
  • 15. negotiate, asserting one's own values and respecting others
  • 16. work independently and in groups

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Seminars21 hours, comprised of 3 x 2 hour seminars, plus 1 hour drop-in session, for each of the following topics: Business Strategy, Marketing and Accounting1 and 2 hour sessions covering the basics of each topic in the syllabus and involving discussion of key dilemmas and issues
Workshops8 hours, comprised of: 1 x 2 hour Pitch presentations workshop in week 11, plus 6 hours of Intellectual Property Workshops in week 52 and 3 hour skills sessions involving case study analysis and discussion as well as developing practical skills such as developing a pitch/business case, managing pitch meetings and negotiations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentations in seminars and workshopsGroups of 3-4 presenting for 10 minutes on various topics8,9,10,11,12, 13,15,16Verbal feedback from seminar/workshop leads and peers
Practical exercises in seminars and workshopsshort answer/multiple choice tests1,2,3,4,5,6,7Written feedback from seminar lead
Negotiation SkillsDemonstration of ability to negotiate rights issues sales for certain aspects of the creative industry product15Verbal feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual 2 minute elevator pitch, plus accompanying pitch document for a creative industry product of your choice to be delivered in week 11402 minute pitch presentation – plus accompanying pitch document of no more than 2,500 words1-16Written and verbal feedback
Individual Business Plan for a creative industry product of your choice60A 5,000 word Business Plan for a creative industry product of your choice1-16Written and verbal feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual 2 minute elevator pitch, plus accompanying pitch document for a creative industry product of your choiceIndividual 2 minute elevator pitch (audio or video file), plus accompanying pitch document for a creative industry product of your choice1-16August
Individual Business Plan for a creative industry product of your choiceIndividual Business Plan for a creative industry product of your choice1-16August

Re-assessment notes

Reassessment exercises will carry the same weightings as the original assessments

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction to business models and concepts and their relevance to international film
  • Introduction to Intellectual Property Law and Systems
  • Current Issues and future trends in Intellectual Property in Film
  • Marketing ideas - key elements of pitch documents and securing funding
  • Marketing to businesses, funders and high net worth individuals
  • Entrepreneurial skills and concepts – negotiation, project packaging and managing meetings
  • Creation and analysis of financial reports used in business plans
  • Financing options and considerations


Approximate Timetable for  the Module

(to be taught as 1x2hour seminars in all weeks except week 5, which will be taught as a single set of 6 hours, tbc)

  • Weeks 1,2,3: Business Strategy for the creative industries – with particular focus on film, to be led by Dr Claire Dinan
  • Weeks 4,6,7: Marketing for the creative industries – with particular focus on film, to be led by Dr Sotiris LaLaounis
  • Week 5, Guest Speaker (Intellectual Property)
  • Weeks 8,9,10 Accounting and Finance - Joanne Abraham.  Email:
  • Week 11 – Elevator Pitch Presentations by students

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Finney, A. (2010) The International Film Business: A market Guide beyond Hollywood, Routledge, London

Bespoke package of articles, cases and other readings prepared in the form of a module reader

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date