Author Archives: Mr. Lewis

Film Review Assignment

**If you have any problems submitting through Schoology, please email your review to me!**

One of the best ways to improve your own filmmaking skills is to watch as many movies as possible.  It also helps to look at them from a filmmaker’s perspective and apply techniques and knowledge that you’ve learned in class to judge the film as a creative work.

In this assignment you will be writing a movie review that will serve as a guide for other moviegoers as they choose what movies to watch.

Choose a film you have seen recently – either in a theater or at home, but not one we’ve watched in class – and write a review for it.  Your review will be posted on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the most popular websites for movie reviews.  The entire world will see it – so be thoughtful, insightful and double check your spelling and grammar.

Take a look at my suggested films list if you are looking for some quality movies to watch.

Use the following template as a guide for your review.

Name of Film:


Genre (guess if you’re not sure):

Star Rating (out of 5):


Introduce the film you saw. Include any background information about the film that may be interesting to the reader.

Plot Summary

Give a BRIEF summary of the plot.  Is the plot original or predictable?  What are the major conflicts? Be careful not to include spoilers (don’t give away the ending!) but show that you watched beyond the first 15 minutes.


What was the overall theme, message or purpose of the movie?  Does the movie teach the viewer anything about life, love or relationships?  Is it purely meant to entertain? What are some ways the director communicates this theme to the audience?

Technical Elements

How was the film’s visual appearance?  Is there anything interesting about the camera work (angles, shots, etc.) or the set designs (costumes, locations) or the lighting (light/dark).  What about sound and music?


Conclude the review with your overall opinion of the film.  Try to persuade the reader to either see or not see the film based on your review.

News Intro Remake Project

News Intro Remake Project

Use creative camera angles and the cinematic concepts we’ve covered in this unit to remake the intro to Skyview News.

  • 30 second length
  • Do not film student’s faces; keep it generic
  • You must not use a “real” song; it must be one that you make yourself in GarageBand
  • Must include a title screen with “Skyview News” and a place for the show’s date
  • I expect to see creative cinematography techniques like narrow depth of field, focus pulls, jib shots, tracks, etc.

Once complete, our class as well as other 7th and 8th grade classes will vote on 2 intros to use for this year.

Metro Analysis Activity

1. Watch the short film Metro on Vimeo in full screen on your iPad or computer.

2. Pause the video and take screen captures when you identify certain camera shots in the film.

  • Screen capture on Mac = Command + Shift + 3

3. Identify five different camera shots and two examples of the rule of thirds (you’ll have seven screen captures total).

4. Go to Schoology and click Turn In on the Metro Practice Activity assignment.

5. Upload your photos to Schoology and attach them to the assignment.

6. In the response box, number your photos 1-7 and label the shot.

Your response will look like this:

1. High Angle
2. Rule of Thirds
3. Etc, etc.

Film Composition Unit

Goals and Purpose

Goal: This unit will introduce you the principles of cinematic composition, camera placement and camera movements so that you become familiar with the many tools filmmakers use to bring their stories to life.


  • You will gain a better understanding of movies when you watch them on your own
  • You will be able to better communicate your project’s message or theme to your audience
  • Your projects will look more professional

Key Vocabulary

  • Composition
  • Frame
  • Rule of thirds
  • Headroom
  • Lead Room / Nose Room
  • Mergers
  • Point of View (POV)
  • Jib
  • Slider
  • Depth of Field
  • Pull Focus


1. Go to Edmodo and take the Film Composition Pre-Test.  You have 5 minutes to complete the quiz.  It will not be scored as a grade.

2. View the Intro to Film Composition Keynote lecture. (Keynote Version) | (PDF Version)

Film List: Tutorials

  • Looking at Movies DVD, Chapter 6: Shot Types and Implied Proximity
  • Looking at Movies DVD, Chapter 6: Camera Angles
  • Looking at Movies DVD, Chapter 6: The Moving Camera

The 5 Deadly Sins of Amateur Video

Filmmaking Tips: Head Room, Lead Room and Anticipatory Framing

Tutorial – Manipulating Focus on a DSLR Camera from Skyview Broadcasting on Vimeo.


Film List: Examples

Chapter 1: The Cabbie from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

METRO from Jacob Wyatt on Vimeo.

Activities and Projects

We will have two in-class activities and two projects to demonstrate our understanding of these concepts:

Video Scavenger Hunt Assignment

This will be your first opportunity to make a video from beginning to end.  You will plan, shoot and edit to create a final film that tells an original story.  This is also your first experience working on a deadline so remember to use your time wisely!

Maximum length: 2 minutes

Project Steps:


1. Download and print the Video Story Hunt Checklist.

2. Break up into groups and nominate a producer.

3. Plan your shoot.  Brainstorm and create an outline for your story.  The producer will pitch your outline to Mr. Lewis and bring suggestions back to the group.  Hint: Keep your stories simple!

4. Use your outline to create a shot list.  Get approval from Mr. Lewis when finished.


5. Start shooting. Remember to trade off who is operating the camera.


6. After you are done shooting, import your footage into iMovie and begin editing. Click here for tutorials on importing.

*You also may find this tip sheet of iMovie Shortcuts helpful when editing any project.

7. Begin editing.  Your final product should include the following:

  • Transitions between all clips
  • Text labeling each clip
  • A title and credits screen
  • Advanced editing effects (cutaway, slow/fast motion, audio/video effects)
  • Music if you have time

8. Export your final project to the Shared drive > Scavenger Hunt folder

Intro to Film History Unit

This unit will introduce you to the very beginning of the motion picture so you gain an appreciation of early films, techniques and innovators. We will have two projects to demonstrate our understanding of these concepts:

  • Create flipbooks to demonstrate the theory of persistence of vision
  • Create our own films that match the style of these early motion pictures

Introduction 1. Go to Schoology and take the Film History Pre-Test.  You have 5 minutes to complete the quiz.  It will not be scored as a grade. 2. View the Intro to Film History Keynote lecture. (Keynote Version) | (PDF Version) The Great Train Robbery Viewing

  • Discuss the significance of The Great Train Robbery as a milestone in film history
  • Read the background notes.  You can also read this scene summary if you are confused.
  • Assignment: Go to Schoology and complete The Great Train Robbery Analysis.

The Great Train Robbery Analysis Assignment

After watching The Great Train Robbery in class, fill out the following film analysis worksheet.  Re-watch the film and view the film notes.

Film Title: Year: Director: Setting:

Give a basic summary of the film’s plot. What happens at the beginning, middle and end? What is the major conflict?

What special effects did you see?

Why is this film a significant part of film history?

What is your overall opinion of this film? Did you like it? Why or why not?

What can you learn from this film that you can apply to your own projects?

Flipbook Assignment Use a Post-It booklet to create a simple flipbook.  Think about simple actions – a sport, a person going somewhere or performing an everyday action.

1. Draw your flipbook. Start in pencil, then go over your drawings in pen or marker.  Stick figures are OK. 2. Class will vote on the top 5 books (Schoology Poll) 3. Break up into groups of 2-3. 4. Use a camera to record someone flipping the book.  Try to flip at a constant rate. 5. Import your footage into iMovie, add music or sound effects when appropriate. 6. Export and share.

Early Motion Picture Assignment Use a still camera to capture an everyday action in the style of the early Edison films. Browse this list for inspiration:

1. Choose a subject or action.  Keep it simple! Dancing, boxing, exercising, playing a sport, an interaction between two people, etc. 2. Use burst mode on the digital camera to capture at least 10 seconds of your action.  Shoot against the black background. 3. Import the photos to the computer and add them to an iMovie project. 4. Set the frame rate. Each photo should appear for 0.1 seconds. 5. Add video effects; black and white, film grain, etc. 6. Photograph a title and credits screen if you have time. 7. Export and share.