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The Purpose Of This Site:


*To Provide Resources to Film Arts Teachers And Students.

*To Give Commentary and Criticism

*To Teach, To Instruct, To Aide In The Appreciation Of Film






 (For Teachers)

Why Teach Film?

Teaching The Arts provides students with the opportunity to:

• Imaginatively explore, express and communicate ideas, feelings and experiences

• Critically reflect and make personal meaning engaging the senses, imagination and feelings

• Engage in creative problem solving, self expression and the use of imagination to develop personal, social and cultural understandings

• *Develop creative and physical talents through spatial, rhythmic, visual and kinaesthetic awareness

• Develop self awareness, and understanding of their own and others’ cultures, values and attitudes

• Expand life skills such as conflict resolution, creative problem solving, negotiation and teamwork

• Provide support for concurrent learning in other learning areas

• Acquire knowledge, skills and understandings essential for success in further study of The Arts.




*Collection of pictures from films


*Selected scenes for quick, one period lesson, journal response and discussion.


*Connect movies that salute or pay homage to other movies/directors


*Look at voyeurism (The camera as our spying eye)


*Create Work Sheets Applicable to Various Movies and Novels


*Show How Motifs are developed


*Characterization is developed in movies versus the book.


*Examine choices of directors


*Students as directors, make their own choices


*Examine scenes through scripts; make changes


*Create scripts from books


*Analyze a scene from their favorite movie





1.  Analyze film technique.  In your journal: select a scene from a film video, DVD, or television program, describe what happens in the scene, the uses of camera shots, lighting, sound, and music to portray the meaning, relationships, narrative development, and representations in that scene.   Describe the purposes for the use of these techniques in terms of the program or movie's larger purpose and positioning/creation of audiences.   For example, an action/adventure film employs a lot of close ups of hands slipping off the edge of buildings to create a sense of suspense in order to keep viewers "on the edge of their seats."




You can analyze use of the following techniques:




- Frames.  One of the most basic concepts is the idea of the frame-what is included as well as left out of a shot.  This relates to what is known as "off-frame" action-the fact that an audience may be aware of someone or something that is outside of the frame-a lurking murderer.  The size and focus of the frame defines the types of different shots employed.  Shots also differ in terms of where they position the audience in relationship to the setting, persons, or objects portrayed. 




- Establishing/extreme long shot.  A shot that serves to initially set the scene is an establishing shot often framed by an extreme-long shot of a landscape or locale in which characters are only speck in the scene. 




- Long-shot.  In contrast to the extreme long-shot, people are now shown at the point to which the audience can view their entire body.




- Medium shot.   A medium shot portrays the people's bodies from the waist up; in some cases, an over-the-shoulder shot with two people portrays one person looking up or down at the other person.  In the 1950s, females were often shown looking up at males, not only because they were often shorter than the males, but also because this shot implied a power imbalance. 




- Close-up shot.  A close-up shot often fills the screen with only a face or an object for the purpose of dramatizing nonverbal reactions or signaling the symbolic importance of an object.




- Wide-angle lens.  If a filmmaker wants to emphasize the relationships between foreground and background aspects of a face or object, they will use a wide-angle lens that creates an exaggerated look.




- Telephoto lens.  If a filmmaker wants to give the appearance some a person or object is closer to the audience, even though they may be quite far away, they will use a telephoto lens.  This can be used in shots in which a person is running towards the audience, in a manner that seems like a long time.




- Low angle shot.  If a filmmaker wants to place the audience as looking up on a person or object, they use a low angle shot, often for the purpose of associating power with the person or object.




- High-angle shot.  In contrast, a shot down on the person or object places the audience in a dominant position over that person or object. 




- Pan shot.  A pan shot is used to move or scan across a locale.




- Tracking shot.  A tracking shot is used to following a moving person or object; the camera itself is moving, on a dolly or moving car.




- Zoom shot.  A zoom shot is used to focus in on or to move back from a person or object. 




- Point-of-view shot.  A point-of-view shot is designed to mimic the perspective of a person so that the audience is experiencing the world through the eyes of the person.




- Lighting.  Students could also study the uses of lighting to emphasize or highlighting certain aspects of people or objects, or through uses of different colors, based on the following techniques:




- Low-key lighting. Low-key lighting is employed in detective, mystery, gangster, or horror films to emphasize contrasts between light and dark images to emphasize the shadowy, dark worlds of these genres.




- High-key lighting. High-key lighting employs a lot of bright lights with little variation of dark and light; often found in traditional comedies. 




- Backlighting.  Backlighting involves placing the light behind the person or object to create an halo effect. 




 - Colored lenses.  Different colored lens are also used to set the mood in a film based on certain semiotic or archetypal meanings for colors.  Red or yellow can be used to create a sense of warmth while a bluish color creates a sense of coldness.  In Minority Report, the faces of the characters who could predict future events were shown as ultra-white to create a sub-human image.




- Sound.  Students could study the uses of sound and music to create a sense of mood or drama.  In a fast-paced chase scene, a filmmaker may employ a fast-paced score.  To add to a slow, romantic scene, a filmmaker may employ romantic violin music.




Then, using the same scene as in the previous analysis (or pick a different scene from a different film/video/show), and the scenes before and after that scene, analyze the editing techniques being used in those scenes. How is the editing being used to convey meaning, relationships, narrative development, and themes?




To share analysis of the use of these film techniques, students could bring in video clips and share their analyses with a class, describing their perceptions of the techniques employed.  In sharing their analyses, they need to be able to not only identify the types of techniques employed, but to also describe the purposes for using these techniques. 




Students could also examine changes in technique over time, noting how new innovations in cameras, editing, and sound changed the medium.  For example, the early Charlie Chaplin films without sound emphasized portrayal of story conflict through characters' physical movements.  With the introduction of sound, conflicts could then be portrayed through oral inflections and speech.  .




Compare clips from the movies.


1. What do you see/hear?


2. Tell me about the main characters (personality, lifestyle, motives, and relationships).


    Which characters do you connect with and why?


3. What values are represented by the content?


4. How do you feel about the content?


5. Who created this message and why are they sending it?


6. What production decisions were made long before the program was available to us?


7. How would you have told the story differently?


8. How might different people understand this message differently from you?




Guide to Critical Assessment of Film


The following questions should help you in your critical evaluation of your film choice(s) for your assigned essay. Please keep in mind that sophisticated film, like literature, requires more than one viewing to begin to appreciate its purpose beyond merely the plot. You will need to view your film(s) with this in mind. You should use some of these questions to complete a journal on your film.






Who is the writer of the film? Has the screenplay been adapted from another work?


Who is the director?


When was the film made?






What does the title mean in relation to the film as a whole?


How are the opening credits presented? Do they relate to meaning?


Why does the film start in the way that it does?


Are there any motifs (scenes, images) of dialogue which are repeated? What purpose do they serve?


What three or four sequences are most important in the film? Why?


Is sound used in any vivid ways either to enhance the film? (i.e. Enhance drama, heighten tension, disorient the viewer, etc.)


How does the film use color or light/dark to suggest tone and mood in different scenes?


Are there any striking uses of perspective (seeing through a character's eyes, camera angle, etc.) How does this relate to the meaning of the scene?


How and when are scenes cut? Are there any patterns in the way the cuts function?


What specific scene constitutes the film's climax? How does this scene resolve the central issue of the film?


Does the film leave any disunities (loose ends) at the end? If so, what does it suggest?


Why does the film conclude on this particular image?






How does this film relate to the issues and questions evoked by your topic?


Does the film present a clear point-of-view on your topic? How?


Are there any aspects of theme which are left ambiguous at the end? Why?


How does this film relate to the other literary texts you have read on your topic (or in class this year or on your own)?


Many of the questions above are taken or adapted from Timothy Corrigan's A Short Guide to Writing About Film and David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson's Film Art: An Introduction (5th ed.) and Kurt Weiler of New Trier High School in Illinois.






Suggested Syllabus




(History of Film)

Video:  The First 100 Years


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response


Lecture:  The Language of Film

Video of film extracts


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response



Silent Film/Concentration:  Reflexivity


Sherlock Jr./The Purple Rose of Cairo

The Battleship Potemkin


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response



Concentration:  Voyeurism/Reflexivity/Characterization

Psycho and Rear Window


Genre: Film Noir:


Double Indemnity/Gilda


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response





Genre: Gangster Films:

Public Enemy, Angels with Dirty Faces


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response





Genre:  The Western


Films: Stage Coach, High Noon


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response




Comic View:


Films:  Some Like It Hot


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response





Teenage Angst:


Films: Rebel Without a Cause, Blackboard Jungle


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response




Fantasy/Science Fiction:


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response




Films:  The Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride, Metropolis, Blade Runner


Complete Film Analysis Worksheet

Complete Journal Response



Film Project and Final Exam



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