In space, no one can hear you scream.

Silence seems to have become a key cue in the science fiction film, from Scott and Cameron's iterations of the Alien franchise (Alien UK/US 1979 and Aliens US 1986), through Nolan's Interstellar (US 2014), and Cuaron's Gravity (US 2014) to the recent outing Arrival (US 2016 dir: Denis Villeneuve). Silence is a of course a feature of a vacuum, but is this why it is also a feature of some science fiction film? There are obvious connotations one could read into ...

Business Management Exam Preparation

As the May 2016 IB exams are approaching teachers and students are getting busier with exam preparation. The new conceptual and contextualized approach to teaching BM is clearly different from the content-based approach from the previous program. This approach puts the Paper 1 Case study and the teaching towards Paper 2 in a different perspective. Previously many teachers used the “teaching the examination” approach in relation to the Paper 1 Case study. Teachers and students will come up with questions, ...

A guide I use for students to prepare their oral presentations

In my teaching universe we are currently going through the second practice for our students at the oral presentation. Our process introduced them to it in December, where they prepare a series of slides on a sequence addressing the full pressie assessment criteria (well, all except the socio-cultural context). This is a weighted assessment task for semester one and helps determine semester performance grades. At the beginning of semester two our students, acting on detailed feedback from their slide 'presentation', ...

An exercise for introducing narrative complexity to new film students

This is an assignment which I've been using for a long time now, but it is thought provoking and attempts to position new film students thinking about how images alone can have huge narrative potential. Formerly I used it as an intro to semiotics (anchoring signs to more specific interpretations, enigma and action codes etc.) but this could equally be attached to other critical approaches to narrative such as Propp, Todorov or Campbell, and adapted directly to the hero/ine's journey or three ...

Exercise exploring film making techniques – Shot selections

The following is one in a series of simple exercises to encourage film students thinking about the mechanics of film making, and reflecting on creative choices made by film makers as conscious and intentional. My intention is that these exercises slot into the first semester of IB Film. Hopefully they will be a useful resource towards discussions leading to production portfolios, oral presentation and introducing the basic idea of supporting analytical ideas with actual examples of film language, the lingua franca ...

More on film genre

My attention was drawn to this infographic this week following my post on the teacher's blog exploring some key generic repertoires in three classic Hollywood genres (Gangster movies westerns and musicals), looking at patterns evident in mise-en-scène, cinematography, narrative, editing and theme common to the classics of each genre. This infographic is a useful introduction to generic hybrids and sub-genres, and encourages further research into how a movie might be categorised in more than a single genre.

Identifying generic cues in films

This is a table which seeks to set out some of the repertoires of elements (this is a slightly outdated way of studying genre but it works for this exercise) that are evident is three classic genre movies, they are by no means comprehensive but their function is to provide a resource for teachers of IB film Thidea is to use them to have students explore genre without getting caught up in plot. For example I chose the Public enemy as my ...

An exercise using The three point lighting system

The three point lighting system was/is the standard approach to lighting in Hollywood films (dominated by the needs for consistent lighting of Stars, the main attraction for Hollywood films - see Richard Dyer Stars). While fairly proscriptive the  system a good framework to begin thinking about lighting. It also permits a broad range of effects merely by the use of different coloured gels in different sources, and setting different strengths for each lighting source.  It can lead to interesting discussions of ...

An interesting topic for discussion or research

Recently my group have been exploring the relationship between documentary and propaganda films. One of our key points of reference has been Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the will 1934. And our discussions has raised the problematic of the amorality of formalism as a means for constructing or reading movies. It seemed to me that the main evidence against formalism is the distortion of apparent narrative economy and elegance by racist and morally bankrupt ideological perspectives. The films which spring most readily to ...

Exploring gender representations in the independent study

This post is an attempt to explain how one can approach the subject of representations in reading movie narratives, and to be taken seriously in the independent study. My primary intention is to offer some weight to those of you who might have students interested in exploring gender representations. Far too many independent study about gender representations confine themselves to the unfairness or narrowness of stereotypes as perceived through plot device. When what they should do is to use the ...