Lecture Presentations

At the conclusion of each major section (Film as Technology and Industry, Telling Stories on Film, and Film Style), I will post the powerpoint presentations for that section so that you can review them in preparation for the assignments.

 

The Birth of Cinema and The History of Film Technology

 

Film as Industry

 

Film Today, Course Wrap-Up, and Discussion of Final Projects

Session Preview

In this session we return to our discussions at the beginning of the course and look at the present state of the film industry. We will also wrap up our discussions for the semester and talk about the final project. 

 

Assignment Due for This Session

How would you describe the film world today? What kinds of films are popular? What do you think the future holds for the cinema?  Post your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Assignment Due December 11

Choose a film that you find interesting and which we did not discuss (extensively) in class. The film may be old or recent, "arthouse" or mainstream, documentary or feature or animated. What is important is that it is interesting to you. The key is to use it to demonstrate the techniques taught in this course. Discuss its form and narrative strategies, analyze its style (with references to specific scenes), and situate it within film genres and history. Divide your paper into five sections corresponding to the bullet points below: (1) Introduction: background, genre, place in film history; (2) Why I chose this film; (3) Film Form, (4) Film Style, (5) How the tools and material I learned in this course helped me to understand and/or appreciate this film differently from how I would have at the before taking the course.  Approximately 5 pages total. Please e-mail the paper to Professor Herzog.

Some Tips on Writing Your Paper

  • Begin with a brief introduction to the film: (1) when and where was it made?, (2) who was involved in making the film (director, actors, studio, etc.), (3) what genre(s) does it fit into?, (4) how does it relate to other films that came before or after it?
  • Tell us why you find this film interesting.
  • Discuss the film's form: (1) how does it narrated?, (2) how is it structured?
  • Discuss the film's style: (1) choose an importance sequence, (2) discuss the sequence, (3) show how the sequence fits into the entire film.
  • Tell us how the tools and material you learned in this course helped you to understand and/or appreciate this film differently from how you would have at the before taking the course.

 

Assignment #3

I will select a short sequence from one of the films that we have viewed in its for this class. I will show this sequence at the beginning of the session and then repeat it. Students will write a sequence analysis in which they discuss mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound and relate this sequence to the film as a whole. So make sure you have seen all of the films assigned thus far, as well as have reviewed the sequence analysis worksheet.

Workshop: How to Do a Sequence Analysis

Session Summary

In this session, we will bring together everything we have worked on in the Film Style unit. We will learn to do a sequence analysis, which is a detailed examination of a short segment from a film (usually 3 minutes or so in length) that comments on the interesting aspects of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound in the chosen sequence. It then ties this formal analysis to the film's meanings in this sequence and in the film as a whole.

 

Assignment Due for this Session

Review the sequence analysis worksheet, which we will use as a guide in this session. Watch The Fits (dir. Anna Rose Holmer) on Kanopy or Amazon Prime. We will use clips from this film in our workshop.

If you had to pick one short sequence (3-5 minutes in length) as the most crucial to understanding the film, which sequence would you choose? Post your response in the comments below.

 

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Sequence Analysis Explained

What is a sequence analysis?

A close examination of a short film clip (approximately 3 minutes). The clip should be significant—it should stand out in the film as a whole. Hint: Beginnings are almost always good subjects for a sequence analysis.

How do you do a sequence analysis?

As you watch a scene, record your observations under each of the four main sections (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound). You will have to view the scene several times, looking at a different aspect each time.

Then what?

Afterwards, consider how your observations relate to the film as a whole, how they affect the meaning and impact of the entire film. Now take your notes and write a paragraph that highlights the most important elements in the sequence and their meanings.

 

Elements of a Sequence Analysis

The following questions are meant to help guide your sequence analysis. Not all questions will be important in all sequences. The idea is to figure out what is significant and focus on those aspects.

Mise-en-Scene

Mise-en-scene refers to what is being filmed. What is the setting of the sequence? Describe the acting, make-up, props, lighting, and colors. Is anything else significant in the mise-en-scene?

Cinematography

Cinematography refers to how the sequence is filmed. What is the look of the sequence? What perspectives (positions) does the camera take? What is being focused on? How is it framed? Is there movement? Is anything else significant?

Editing

Editing refers to how the shots are put together. Is it continuity editing? Are there visible cuts? What is the average shot length? Is anything else significant about the editing?

Sound

Sound refers to anything present on the soundtrack? What sounds are present in the sequence? Where do they come from? Are there non-diegetic sounds? What else do you notice about the soundtrack?

Sound

Session Preview

Film is typically considered a visual art. Although it is strongly visual, sound has always played a vital role in film. Even "silent cinema" was rarely silent; it was instead accompanied by music or even narration. In this session we will examine the concept of film sound and notice how even the seemingly simplest soundtracks are in fact complex layers of dialogue, music, and sound effects. Many of the concepts from visual film style (tonality and texture, position and offscreen space, and editing) have close counterparts in film sound.

 

Assignment Due for this Session

Watch this opening scene from Drive (dir. Nicholas Winding Refn, USA, 2011) and describe its use of sound. What sounds are heard? How do these sounds let us know what is going on? Post a comment below.

 

Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sound: Playful Examples

 

Richard Wagner and George Lucas

This post discusses the ways in which the Star Wars films owe a debt to the theories and practice of the 19th-century composer Richard Wagner.

 

How Soundtracks Affect Mood: An Example from The Shining

In the Mood for Love (dir. Wang Kar-wai, Hong Kong, 2000)

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In the Mood for Love (dir. Wang Kar-wai, Hong Kong, 2000)

Available on Kanopy

More information on IMDB

 

Assignment for this Session

Watch In the Mood for Love. Pay special attention to its mise-en-scene and cinematography. How would you characterize the film's "look?" Is there a sequence that stood out as particularly memorable to you?  Join the discussion of the film by posting a comment below.

 

How to View the Film

This film is available on Netflix, YouTube and Blackboard

 

Cinematography

Session Summary

Last session we discussed mise-en-scene (what is being filmed). This session we turn our attention to the other element that makes up a "shot:" cinematography. Cinematography refers to what goes on with the camera during a shot -- i.e. how it is filmed. We will look at camera positions, framing, and movement and consider the implications of different choices of film stock (or video) and aspect ratio.

Assignment Due for this Session

Watch the following sequence from Goodfellas (dir. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1990) and describe as precisely as possible what is going on with the camera. Pay particular attention to how the camera moves. Comment below.

Mise-en-Scene

Session Preview

In this section, we turn to a discussion of film style. This session is devoted to the first of the two elements that make up a "shot." Mise-en-scene is a French term derived from live theater that refers to that which is put into a scene: set design, actors, props, etc. It also refers to the way a scene is lit. The simplest way to think about it is that which is being filmed.

 

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Assignment Due for this Session

Look at the image on the post for this session, from the 2002 film Bend it Like Beckham. What can you figure out about the young woman in the picture? Feel free to speculate based on the evidence in the frame. (If you have seen the film, pretend that you don't know anything but what is on this frame.) Post your comment below.

 

Assignment #2: Film Form

Choose any film that you wish and write a paper in which you discuss the film's form (how it is structured), narrative (how the story is told) and genre. Structure your paper in 4 sections and label each section: (1) How is the film structured? (2) How is the story narrated? (3) Does the film conform to the principles of Classical Hollywood Cinema? Be specific as you test it against the principles of CHC. (4) How would you classify is the film's genre(s)? How does it relate to generic conventions? Approx. 500 words. Include your group number in the subject line along with the assignment number (Example: "Group 1 - Assignment 2"). Please e-mail your paper to Professor Herzog by the beginning of class. Email address: itsallacademic@gmail.com.

What We Do in the Shadows (dir. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, New Zealand, 2014)

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What We Do in the Shadows (dir. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, New Zealand, 2014)

Available on Kanopy

More info at IMDB

 

 

Assignment for this Session

Watch What We Do in the Shadows. What genre or genres does the film work with? How does it treat generic traditions? Does it follow the core principles of Classical Hollywood Cinema?

 

How to View the Film

This film is available on Kanopy and Amazon Prime.

Memento (dir. Christopher Nolan, USA, 2000)

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Memento, dir. Christopher Nolan (USA, 2000)

Available on Kanopy

More info at IMDB

 

 

Assignment for this Session

Watch Memento and do a basic plot segmentation for the film. Think about how it is structured. Is there any pattern to the individual scenes. Also consider how it is narrated. Is there an explicit narrator? How is information given to the viewer? Please post your comment below.

 

How to View the Film

This film is available on Netflix (not Watch Instantly) and on Amazon (for rental and purchase). It is also available for streaming on the course Blackboard page.

 

Film Form

Think about a time that a moment in a film has brought out a strong reaction in you -- fear, laughter, sadness, shock. How did it do that? Largely by the way in which it was put together to set up and play with expectations. In this session we will  begin to uncover the major elements out of which they are constructed. How do films tell their stories? How do they set up and either meet or defy expectations?

Assignment Due for this Session

Watch the following sequence from The Birds  (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1963). What emotional effect does it intend to have on its audience? How does it try to achieve this effect? Is it successful? Post your answer by clicking on Post Comment below.

Assignment #1: The Film Industry

Choose any film and analyze its advertising campaign. You may want to look at the film’s website, trailer(s), and poster(s). How is the film being marketed? What aspects of it are emphasized? What audience is being targeted? Where is it being shown? If you have seen the film (and this assignment will work better if you have), does the advertising represent it accurately? Approx. 500 words. Include your group number in the subject line along with the assignment 1 (Example: "Group 1 - Assignment 1"). Please e-mail your paper to Professor Herzog by the beginning of class. Email address: itsallacademic@gmail.com.

Resource

You can find information about your chosen film on IMDB. Nearly every film released in recent years also has a website, which you should consult. Trailers are often available on YouTube.

  

Marketing Movies

Session Preview

 

In the last session we examined the process of making films. In this session we wil look at what happens after a film is made. We will consider the history of studios and distribution companies, focusing on the Walt Disney Company. We will also look at the role that posters, trailers, and tie-ins with other media and businesses play in advertising films.

 

Assignment Due for this Session

Watch this trailer for the upcoming film Creed 2. How does it try to convince us to see the film? What does it emphasize? Please respond by leaving comment below.

If you wish to explore film marketing further...

Interesting Movie Trailers (Real and Spoof)

The Player

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The Player, dir. Robert Altman (USA, 1992)

Available on Blackboard

More information at IMDB

 

Assignment for this Session

For this session, watch The Player, Robert Altman's satire of the Hollywood movie industry. To prepare for the class discussion, think about how Hollywood is depicted in this film.

  • What roles are played by the major figures involved in the film industry (producers, directors, actors, writers, studios)? 
  • What types of films is the studio interested in producing? What happens to the film Habeas Corpus between the time it is first pitched and when it finally is ready to premiere?
  • What does Griffin say needs to be in any picture that he will greenlight (authorize to be made)?  Does The Player have any of these characteristics?

In the comments below, please give a short answer to the question of how Hollywood is depicted in The Player . 

How to View the film

This film is available on Netflix (not Watch Instantly) and on Amazon (for rental and purchase). It is also available for streaming on the course Blackboard page.