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 ...

Listening paper recommendations

I hope everyone is well in the DP Music world. I have just started grading DP Music listening paper for the May 2015 session. I would like to share my thoughts in process while my experiences with the listening paper are fresh. Pragmatically, these recommendations will be more pertinent for DP Music colleagues in the southern hemisphere; northern hemisphere teachers could use these recommendations for their year one DP students. The depth of the response of a student is of the ...

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 ...

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This is a table which seeks to set out some of the repertoires of elements (this is a slightly outdated way of studying genre but it works for this exercise) that are evident is three classic genre movies, they are by no means comprehensive but their function is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 ...

Looking for good ideas

At this point in the cycle of IB sessions, we are all likely looking for either a great and magnetizing new angle for our students preparing to write the two papers that finish off the Literature course or we are looking for stimulating ideas with which to infuse our teaching as the fall term begins. While many of you may be familiar with the site, the EMC English and Media Centre  might be a good one to explore. I've had workshop ...

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 ...

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 ...

More scaffolding learning for the independent study

Documentary B-roll project B-rolls, according to Wikipedia, are the supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot in an interview or documentary. More often the b-roll is the sole source of visual material and some of the audio material, all held together within the dialectic of a documentary by a voice-over narration an example of clever use of the b-roll is in The power of nightmares (Adam Curtis 2004 UK) In this research project you will be expected to construct a B-roll for a ...

Steven Soderbergh and Geurrilla Film making

Steven Soderbergh is always an interesting commentator on contemporary trends in film making and has been instrumental in the growing legitimacy of digital video  through his early adoption of it and his advocacy of  the development of RED camera system. In his last few films before his self imposed retirement from film making Soderbergh seems to have explored some of the impact of DV for his films. The particular example which brings this to mind is a chase sequence at the ...

The studio system and film texts

By Saturday, January 25, 2014 , , , , 0

In the student blog This month I posted an entry which offers an introduction to the Hollywood studio system through the lens of the star system (most students seem to find this route palatable). I realised in writing this, and the significant degree of editing it required (which still ended up at 1200 words) that this topic is enormous and if taught with passion and organisation can be hugely engaging and relevant for most students. Allowing them to discover classics of ...