Assignments for Media Production

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:

Director:

Genre (guess if you’re not sure):

Star Rating (out of 5):

Introduction

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.

Themes

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?

Conclusion

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.

Purpose:

  • 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

Introduction

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:

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: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/edmvchrn.html.

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.

Final Project: The Class Film

In this project, we will work together as one large group to create an original short dramatic film from scratch.  We will begin by writing screenplays and choosing one to produce.  We will mimic many of the steps from the real world of film production – from talent auditions and set design to editing and sound design.

Everyone will have a specific job to do; some of you may perform more than one role and not everyone will appear on camera.  The first major step is to decide what role you will be. Below is a list of roles required and what it takes to perform that job effectively.

Producer

  • Organize all other teams
  • Work with production design team to create breakdown sheets for each scene
  • Lead production meetings with director and team leads during REACH
    • Review dailies to determine reshoots
    • Develop next day’s shooting schedule
  • Run clapper slate and record shooting notes during production

Documents: Breakdown Sheets (one sheet for every scene)

Writer

  • Work with director to revise screenplay into a final draft
  • Attend editing workshops during REACH
  • Develop character maps for actors to study

Director of Photography

  • Create visual look of the film
  • Develop shot list based on screenplay and breakdown sheets
  • Work with Producer, Director and Editor to review dailies
  • Work with Assistant Camera (AC) to shoot scenes in a creative way
  • Work with Gaffer to rig lights and operate jib

Documents: Shot List

Gaffer

  • Responsible for transporting camera gear and equipment (jib, sliders, lights, etc.)
  • Work with Director of Photography to rig lighting and set up camera equipment

Production Designer

  • Work with Set Designer and Wardrobe Manager
  • Scout locations and obtain permission
  • Responsible for creating authentic sets for each scene
  • Gather and manage props
  • Gather and manage character wardrobes, hair and makeup (if necessary)

Documents: Set Design List | Prop List

Audio Engineer

  • Capture on camera sound with external microphones
  • Run audio recorder and hold boom mic
  • Monitor sound for quality while recording

Editor

  • Import footage each day – “dailies”
  • Review dailies with director and producer
  • Work with Assistant Editor(s) to edit specific scenes
  • Work with Sound Designer to add music and sounds to final cut

Sound Designer

  • Create original score
  • Create or locate sound effects
  • Record foley if necessary
  • Work with editors to place sounds and music in final cut

Documents: Sound Cue Sheet

Actors and Actresses

  • Audition for roles with a screen test
  • Study character maps
  • Memorize lines, rehearse and perform

Marketing Department

  • Develop a strategy to promote the film
  • Create trailers and promotional posters

Behind the Scenes Crew

  • Record “behind the scenes” footage throughout the production
  • Interview team members about their production role
  • Assemble footage into a final project that tells the story of the whole production

 

Screenplay Assignment

In this assignment you will be writing your own screenplay.  One of your screenplays will be chosen as our final 4th quarter project, where our entire class will be working as a team to produce an original short film from scratch…so yea, this assignment is kind of a big deal.

How the heck do I start this massive task?

You’ve already learned quite a bit about screenplay formatting and elements of storytelling, character development and literary devices in film.  It’s time to apply that.

  • Start with a synopsis – A “big picture” idea. Don’t get to specific.  What’s the overall message, theme or concept you’d like to get across your audience? What type of story is it – Quest? Coming of Age? Good vs. Evil? Love? What genre will it be – Drama? Comedy? Love Story? Horror? Fantasy?
    • Big Fish Example: I want to tell a coming of age story that explores the purpose of myths, legends and tall tales through the complicated relationship between a journalist son and his larger-than-life, storytelling father who is dying of cancer.
  • Move onto a plot diagram – summarize what will happen in your exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement.
    • Once you summarize each plot section, expand on your diagram by listing a few bullet points under each section – these will become scenes within those sections.
  • Make a character map – this lists out the major characters in your story.  Don’t get too detailed, but think about who they really are, what their motivations are and what character traits they possess.  For each major character, you can break it down into subcategories like this:
    • Biographical information: Character name, age, occupation
    • Relationship to other characters – mother, son, boyfriend, teacher, etc.
    • Physical traits: What do they look like? Be general (handsome, pretty) or specific if it matters (spiked blonde hair with snake tattoo on left arm).
    • Emotional traits: What motivates them? What’s in their head? What are they feeling?
    • Backstory: If they’re a major character, we should know a little about their past if it’s relevant to the story.

I’ve got my ideas sketched out, what next?

Start writing! What’s going to happen in each scene of your story? As you write, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Remember the 4 purposes of a scene.  If it doesn’t fall into one of these categories, cut it!
    • Reveal character
    • Establish setting
    • Show conflict
    • Advance the plot
  • Keep your dialog real.  It should sound like a realistic conversation.  It helps to read it out loud to see if it sounds natural.
  • Watch your length – remember one page of screenplay = one minute of screen time.  Remember we are making short films, not two hour epics.  A good length to shoot for is 15 minutes.
  • Don’t stress over screenplay format.  Just get your ideas down first, then we’ll worry about indents, capitalization and all of that stuff.

To review screenplay format:

Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! You will be pitching your idea to the class on the day we come back from Spring Break.

For your pitch, you will present a synopsis of your story to the class and read us one page of your screenplay that you find most important, most interesting or especially well-written.

Screenwriting Unit

Goal and Purpose

Goal: To introduce students to the fundamentals of writing for the screen with an emphasis on screenplay format and the fictional storytelling concepts of character development, plot structure, setting and conflict.

Purpose:

  • You will gain an understanding of dramatic storytelling for the screen.
  • You will gain an understanding of the format of a screenplay and how the writers vision is translated to the screen.

Vocabulary

  • Treatment
  • Screenplay
  • Shooting Script
  • Exposition
  • Climax
  • Denouement
  • Round character
  • Flat character
  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Slugline

Unit Lecture Notes

The Screenwriting Keynote can be downloaded here: Keynote Version | PDF Version

Film List

Big Fish (2003)
Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay: John August
Download Screenplay PDF

The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge) (1956)
Director: Albert Lamorisse
Watch Full Film on YouTube | Also Available on Netflix Streaming and Hulu Plus

Voiceover (2012)
Director: Martin Rosete

VOICE OVER (English subtitles) from Kamel Films on Vimeo.

Projects and Assignments

Screenwriting Resources

  • Internet Movie Script Database: Searchable directory of movie scripts; use this to see examples of how screenplays are written in the real world.
  • Screenwriting.info: Resource for getting your screenplay formatted correctly according to the rules of Hollywood.

 

Film Review Assignment: Award Winner

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

The Academy Awards (or the Oscars) are on Sunday, February 24th.  This is the most important awards ceremony and the highest honor in the movie business.  This round of film reviews will focus on past winners of this prestigious honor.

This assignment is just like your other film reviews, except the film you review must have won an Academy Award in some category. 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 the following links to decide what to watch:

Use the following template as a guide for your review.

Name of Film:

Director:

Genre (guess if you’re not sure):

Star Rating (out of 5):

Introduction

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

Awards Won

What Academy Award category or categories did this film win?  Do you think the award was justified? Why or why not?

Themes

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.)? What about sound and music?

Conclusion

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.