Thursday, February 27, 2014

Silent Film Project & Charlie Chaplin

This  morning during period 1, please continue to work on your film projects AND:

Identify and define the following terms from the videos below. Write these in your notebook, as we will refer to them throughout the course:
Extreme long shot, long shot, medium shot, medium-close up, close up, extreme close up; Firehosing, jogging, backlighting, lead/nose room, headroom; pan and tilt, dolly movement, truck or tracking shots, sled and vest system, boom; 180 degree rule; line of action, dynamic shots versus static shots.
During 2nd period, please join me next door to learn about Charlie Chaplin and screen his films:

"All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl." -Sir Charles Chaplin

Sir Charles Chaplin (1889-1977)
• Born in 1889 in London, UK to theatrical parents
• Chaplin’s childhood was one of extreme poverty and hardship
• Abandoned by an alcoholic father and left with a mentally unstable mother who was unable to support him, he struggled through life in the poor house and on the streets
• He learnt much of his timing and technique in the employment of impresario Fred Karno (1866-1941) whose troupe he left during an American tour in 1913
• Offered a contract by Keystone Films
• After 1914, he convinced Keystone producer Mack Sennett to allow him to direct his own films - often wrote, directed, acted and composed his own musical scores for his films
• In many silent shorts, he established the grammar and ground rules of screen comedy using his physical dexterity and pantomime skills to create expertly choreographed, visually humorous entertainment that mixed irreverence, romance, and pathos (feeling)
• Co-founder of United Artists in 1919
• Married Oona O’Neill (daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill)
• His left-wing sympathies caused him to emigrate to Switzerland during the 1950’s, McCarthy period
• He published his autobiography in 1964 and was knighted in 1975
• Chaplin died on Christmas day, 1977
• A writer Performer, director, composer and icon, he was a vital figure in the development of the screen comedy Films (incomplete list): Making a Living (1913) Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) The Champion (1915) The Tramp (1915) The Pawnshop (1916) The Rink (1916) A Dog’s Life (1918) The Kid (1921) The Gold Rush (1925) City Lights (1931) Modern Times (1936) The Great Dictator (1940) Limelight (1952) A King in New York (1957) A Countess from Hong Kong (1967)
Take a look at some of Chaplin's films:

Table ballet sequence from "The Gold Rush"
The Tramp (1915)
The Rink (1916)

A Dog's Life (1918)
The Kid (1921) trailer
The Lion's Cage clip from the Circus (1928)
The Gold Rush (1925) and another scene; sound and words added later
City Lights (restaurant scene, 1931); The boxing scene from City Lights.
Modern Times (full film, 1936); and the famous clockwork scene from Modern Times.
The Great Dictator (1940) 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Silent Film Project & Camera Work Tips

This morning, please complete the following:

1. Create a film "company" (group) of 1-5 (for this project).
2. Come up with an idea for an arranged (edited) silent film. Use the concept sheet as a starter, if you need to.
3. Create a treatment for the film. You treatment should include up to 10 scenes--please no more than that. (You may use your previous story board for this!)
4. Write a short description for your scenes. You will turn in your scene and title breakdown to me for credit.
5. Plan and decide who you might need as an actor (use your group members if possible), where you are going to shoot, when you are going to shoot, etc. Talk with your partner to make choices.
Give your partners a job:
--Have someone take on the job of the cinematographer
--Have someone take on the job of editor
--Have someone take on the job of director
--Have someone take on the job of actors, crew, and/or casting director (if needed)
--All members of the group should write, offer suggestions, assist, help out where needed! 
6. Print out a copy of the arranged script by the end of class today. You should print out a second or third copy for yourself and/or your actors, etc. Use the script when making a film.

You will have some time in class in the next few classes devoted to editing and preparing the film. If you have already started, please use a class period today to begin uploading, editing and arranging your film.

HEY: While you're waiting (sometimes you'll have to wait for your group) check out these important videos and complete these notes!:

Now that you've had a chance to play around behind a camera, here are a few instructional videos to give you some pointers and hints about your camera work.

Identify and define the following terms from the videos below. Write these in your notebook, as we will refer to them throughout the course:
Extreme long shot, long shot, medium shot, medium-close up, close up, extreme close up; Firehosing, jogging, backlighting, lead/nose room, headroom; pan and tilt, dolly movement, truck or tracking shots, sled and vest system, boom; 180 degree rule; line of action, dynamic shots versus static shots.  
Videos will take about 20-25 minutes.
Important Film Jobs, defined

Take note of these important film jobs:
Cinematographer/Director of Photography (DP): The chief of the camera and lighting crew of a film. The DP makes decisions on lighting and framing of scenes in conjunction with the film's director. Typically, the director tells the DP how they want a shot to look, and the DP chooses the correct aperture, filter, and lighting to achieve the desired effect.

Camera Operator: The camera operator uses the camera at the direction of the cinematographer, director of photography, or the film director to capture the scenes on film. Generally, a cinematographer or director of photography does not operate the camera, but sometimes these jobs may be combined. Various assistants are also named.

Film Editor: The film editor (with help from the director usually) is the person who assembles the various shots into a coherent film. There are often several assistant editors. Various technical responsibilities are referred to as editors such as dialogue editors (who work with dialogue), sound editing, etc.
HOMEWORK: Please read the handout on Hollywood & the Academy Awards. In a written paragraph or two (to turn in for credit), using the information from the articles, how did Hollywood and the Academy Awards (2 different things) positively and negatively affect film making in America?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Silent Film Project

Today, after viewing the D.W. Griffith material (see below), please complete the following tasks:

1. Create a film "company" (group) of 1-4 (for this project).
2. Come up with an idea for an arranged (edited) silent film. Use the concept sheet as a starter, if you need to.
3. Create a treatment for the film. You treatment should include up to 10 scenes--please no more than that. (You may use your previous story board for this!)
4. Write a short description for your scenes. You will turn in your scene and title breakdown to me for credit.
5. Plan and decide who you might need as an actor, where you are going to shoot, when you are going to shoot, etc. Talk with your partner to make choices.
6. Print out a copy of the arranged script by the end of class today. You should print out a second or third copy for yourself and/or your actors, etc. Use the script when making a film.

You will have some time in class in the next few classes devoted to editing and preparing the film. If you have already started, please use a class period today to begin editing and arranging your film.

HOMEWORK: Begin making your silent film project.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

D.W. Griffith

D.W. Griffith was called the "Father of film technique" & "the man who invented Hollywood"

Birth of a Nation trailer.

With cinematographer G.W. Bitzer, he created and perfected the film devices:
  • the iris shot
  • the flashback
  • crosscutting
He directed the very controversial The Birth of a Nation (1915) Based on Thomas Dixon's stage play "The Clansman." Over 3 hours long, the racist epic included a cast of hundreds. The film contained many new film innovations:
  • Special use of subtitles
  • Its own musical score with orchestra
  • Introduction of night photography
  • Used a "still shot"
  • Used an "Iris shot"
  • Used parallel action
  • Used panning and tracking shots
  • Used close-ups to reveal intimate expressions of actors
  • Used fade outs and cameo-profiles
  • Used high-angles and panoramic (extreme) long shots
  • Used cross cutting between two scenes to create excitement and suspense
Here's a clip from Birth of a Nation. and a famous battle sequence with hundreds of extras.
The film is now regarded as terribly racist as it actually has the KKK riding in to save the day. Here's a few more objectionable scenes:
Negro Majority in the House of Representatives
Origins of the Klan
Controversial Scenes from BofaN
And the suggestive ending...

Here's the entire film, if you have the interest and 3-hours to spare.

A year later his masterpiece Intolerance (1916) was made as a reaction to the censorship of Birth of a Nation

Babylon Long Shot/Crane Sequence (tinted)
The Fall of Babylon from Intolerance
Entire Film: Intolerance.

In 1919 he established the film company United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and William S. Hart

Overall, Griffith directed over 500 films. He retired in 1931 and died in Los Angeles in 1948. In 1975 his picture was on a post stamp. But by 1999, The Director's Guild of America's National Board renamed the prestigious D.W. Griffith Award (first given in 1953 to such directors as Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, and Cecil B. DeMille) because of Griffith's racism.
"We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue - the same liberty that is conceded to the art of the written word - that art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare."
D.W. Griffith (1915)
"If in this work we have conveyed to the mind the ravages of war to the end that war may be held in abhorrence, this effort will not have been in vain." - D. W. Griffith (1915)

Please take a look at these clips and films starring one of his leading actresses: Lilian Gish.

Way Down East (1920) Possibly the most amazing stunt ever pulled in cinema history. Please realize that these actors really were doing their own stunts. That water is cold and yes, those are ice floes.
Orphans of the Storm (1921) (Entire film, with sister Dorothy Gish)
Judith of Bethulia (1913) (entire film)
The Scarlet Letter (1926)  (entire film)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

R.W. Paul, Birt Acres, Hepworth & the Pathe Frere Company

France and the U.S. were quick to jump on the possibilities of film projection. But quick on their heels was Britain. These three countries have a long and respected reputation when it comes to film making. They were there at the beginning.

Birt Acres & R.W. Paul

Birt Acres was born in the USA in 1854, orphaned at the age of fourteen during the American civil war and was taken in by his aunt. Around 1872 Acres was sent to Paris to complete his education at the Sorbonne. Acres returned to the United States four years later to lead the life of a Frontiersman and it during a period of eight or nine years became quite wealthy. Around 1885 he moved to England. He set up a studio in the seaside resort of Devon for the production of painted portraits and photography. In 1894 Acres was introduced to electrical engineer, Robert W. Paul. At this time Paul was in the process of manufacturing copies of Edison’s Kinetoscope and was anxious to construct a camera with which to produce films to show on his machines.

The pair worked together and Acres used the camera to make the first successful film in Britain - Incident at Clovelly Cottage in 1895. It was at this point where the two entered into partnership with a ten year business agreement. This agreement lasted only six weeks before splitting. During their brief partnership, the two shot films. It is widely believed that Paul was angry because Acres had patented his own Kinetic camera in his own name - almost identical to the one they had developed together. The resulting projector became known as the Kinetic Lantern, Kineopticon and the Cinematoscope. 

As for Paul, he invented the Theatrograph projector and shot the first "news" films. Paul also made various “Actuality” films,  and a short comedy - “The Soldier’s Courtship.” He is, also, curiously, responsible for the first Scrooge film. In 1898 Paul began construction on Britain’s first film studios in Muswell Hill, North London and during that summer produced over eighty short dramatic films. Paul’s production company peaked during 1900 and 1905 but he gradually became disenchanted with the business. He returned to his previous occupation, concentrating on electrical engineering.
Meanwhile, Acres gave the first public performance of his projector at the Royal Photographic Society in 1896 - five weeks before the screening of Lumière’s Cinématographe and Paul’s Theatograph. Acres formed his own company - the Northern Photographic Works which specialized in coating, perforating and processing film. In 1898 he unveiled the Birtac - the first 'sub-standard gauge' cine camera and projector, instead of normal 35mm film the camera used narrower width film - typically 17.5 mm. Unfortunately for Acres, within weeks, a rival 17.5 mm camera/projector was announced - the Biokam by the Warwick Trading Company. The Biokam benefitted from its heavy backing and cheapness - half the price of the Birtac. Regardless of this, Birt Acres invented the first amateur cine camera and remained in the film business until his death in 1918.
Upside Down (1899) (watch camera tricks)
 Scrooge, or Marley's Ghost (1901) (the first Scrooge film).
Birt Acres: Rough Sea at Dover (1895)
Arrest of a Pickpocket (date unknown, 1896+)
Rip Van Winkle (1895)

Cecil Hepworth
Cecil Hepworth (1874 –1953):
How it Feels to Be Run Over (1900)
Explosion of a Motor Car (1900)
Alice in Wonderland (1903) by Cecil Hepworth
Rescued by Rover (1905)
That Fatal Sneeze (1907)
• Hepworth was an English film director, producer and screenwriter, he was among the founders of the British film industry and continued making films into the 1920s.
• His father was a famous magic lantern showman.
• He became involved in the early stages of British filmmaking, working for both Birt Acres and Charles Urban, and wrote the first British book on the subject in 1897.
• With his cousin Monty Wicks he set up the production company Hepworth and Co. — later renamed the Hepworth Manufacturing Company, then Hepworth Picture Plays.
• In 1899 they built a small film studio in Walton-on-Thames. The company produced about three films a week, sometimes with Hepworth directing.
• Rescued by Rover (1905) was a huge success at the box office, starring a collie in the title role. The film is now regarded as an important development in film grammar, with shots being effectively combined to emphasise the action. Hepworth was also one of the first to recognize the potential of film stars, both animal and human, with several recurring characters appearing in his films.
• The company continued making popular films into the 1920s.
• The company went public to fund a large studio development but lost money and closed.
• Tragically, all of Hepworth's original film negatives were melted down.

Pathe Freres Company

Charles Pathé (1863-1957), French motion-picture magnate, who, in the early 20th century, was the first to create a system for mass-producing motion pictures. It is thanks to The Pathe Frere Co. that films were shared and distributed around the world. Now, a film made in New York could be seen as far away as Japan. This is the start of a world-wide cinema (and a lucrative business venture...) Check out information about Pathe and some of his company's films:
Aladdin & the Magic Lamp (1907)
The Policeman's Little Run (1907) directed by Ferdinand Zecca
Slippery Jim (1910) directed by Ferdinand Zecca
Onesime Horloger (Onesime, Clock-Maker) (1912)
• Pathé began his career as an importer and merchant of the phonograph in France.
• He extended the business to include projectors and films, creating the company Pathé Frères in 1896.
• By 1901 he concentrated on film production, together with French director and producer Ferdinand Zecca.
• Pathé made films rapidly and reinvested the profits back into the business to improve the technical quality of his films.
• By 1905 the company was employing numerous production teams of scriptwriters, set builders, cameramen, directors, and actors, making short films in an assembly-line process.
• Pathe Company opened in New York in 1904 as a subsidiary of Pathe Freres (Bros.) in France and boasted a catalogue of 12,000 titles.
• In 1909, Pathe was asked to join Edison in forming the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) to try to shut out smaller studios.
• In 1911, Pathe Weekly was issued. This is the first US newsreel.
• WWI took its toll on the company. Pathe ceased production in the US in 1914.
• In 1915, the Pathe Freres temporarily moved its headquarters to New York and changed its name to Pathe Exchange, Inc.
• In 1923, Pathe Exchange sold for 26 million Francs and came under the control of Merrill Lynch.
• In 1926, Joe Kennedy (father of John F. Kennedy) becomes president of the company, and a director.
• In 1930, Pathe Exchange merges with PDC, K-A-O and DeMille to become RKO

Hollywood has never been that original compared to early filmmakers. Here's a few films that keep getting made over and over again. Other films of the early 20th century:
Reading: Please read the chapter on D.W. Griffith and note what contributions this man had on the filming industry. We will begin looking at D.W. Griffith when you return from break. 

Further reading: During break, please select and read any film script from IMSDB. Read something you like. Be prepared to write about this script when you return from break. 

Activity: You may begin filming and shooting your silent film. This project will be due at the end of the month. We will begin editing and shooting in earnest when we return from break, but for those of you who would like to get a head start, please do so. We will discuss the silent film project when we return from break, but suffice to say it should be no longer than 5 minutes (make it a rather short story). You may use your film scenarios and previous homework as a "script", but usually silent films were not scripted like movies today.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Edwin S. Porter & George Melies: A Study in Style

Melies and Porter both found a way to edit and arrange film to create a narrative story. With these two film directors we begin to expand the novelty and artistic quality of the medium.

If we were to reduce all films to a continuum, we would have realism on one end of the continuum and formalism on the other. The Lumiere Brothers, and many of Edison's films, are considered actualities and are little more than moving snapshots of real life in real settings shot on location in real places. Viewers were fascinated by these films partly because they had never seen a picture move, but also because the events the films captured were spontaneous and true. It don't get more real than this! The most real films are often considered to be documentaries--documents of real people, places, or events.

On the other side of the continuum is formalism. Formalist films are often avant-garde or metaphorical. Melies' films are perfect examples of this kind of film. Melies used trick photography, whimsical and fantastic subject matter that went beyond reality, and arranged his scenes deliberately for effect. While the camera stays at a safe viewing distance (long shot), the entire film is manipulated to create an effect on the viewer. When a director does these things (tricks like dissolves or stop motion or careful editing) he is beginning to lose the spontaneity of capturing real life, as all is "staged" and "un-real".

Today most films are considered the mid-range between realism and formalism. This mid-range is called classicism and most fiction films fall into this category.

As we watch these films, please record the title, name of director, and a 1-3 sentence description.

THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1903), Directed by Edwin S. Porter
DREAM OF A RAREBIT FIEND (1906), Directed by Edwin S. Porter
A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902), Directed by George Melies

After screening the films, please complete the following:
George Melies outlined a narrative story by numbering scenes he would need for a film. See the chapter on Melies (handout) for examples. This arrangement served as a creative outline for most early filmmakers. Much of the plot, acting, and filming was completely improv, but directors had a general idea of the film they wanted to make.
1. Work alone or with one partner.
2. Create your own pre-arranged scene break-down for a film of your own. You may wish, like Melies, to choose a favorite story or fairy tale, or create your own sci-fi or fantasy story or like Porter base your story on an event taken from News headlines, or from your own imagination.
3. Create a short film with up to 10 distinct scenes. You should give a very short description of each scene that includes the following information:
A. Where does the action/filming take place?
B. What is the central action or event in the scene?
C. What characters are involved in the action?
D. How does one action lead to a reaction (cause and effect, or i.e., PLOT) and/or resolution? And E. What type of shot would you use for the scene: Close-up, Medium shot, Long Shot, Tracking Shot, Pan, (extreme close up or long shot?)
HOMEWORK: This prearranged scene outline is due next class. If you do not complete the treatment in class, please complete as homework for participation credit.

Take a look at our class's actuality projects:
If you did not turn in your film project, please do so. You are now recorded as being late. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Film Invention & the Actuality Project

Today, please get into groups of 2-5. Using the cameras or your own cell phones (if you have the capability) roam the school in less than 5 minutes (per group) and take a single shot "actuality" of something. Return within 5 minutes and hand off your camera to the next group.

Then, once everyone has had a chance to make a short, short "actuality", join 2-5 other groups and upload your actualities into iMovie, if you can.

Create a title for each individual film with your name(s) on it as the director(s). Work together to edit and prepare the film. If you'd like, add a music track. Help each other and ask questions about the basics of iMovie. Create an MP4 of your film files and I will come around by the end of period one to collect these files on my flashdrive. We'll take a look at them next class.

While all this is going on during period one, please read about early film technology here. In your notes, please identify, describe (and/or draw a picture) and note the significance of the following technology. The side bar on the website's left hand side has the links for each device.
  • Zoetrope
  • Praxinoscope
  • Kinetoscope
  • Cinematographe
  • Mutoscope
  • Vitascope
These are some of the important events, inventions, and inventors that helped create the film industry. You should be familiar with them. Please take notes and study them for the test on this material.
Magic Lantern: Invented in the 17th century by Athanasius Kircher. The magic lantern projected pictures on a screen. It functioned like an overhead projector. Originally it used a candle as the light source.

Thaumatrope: Invented by Dr. John Ayrton Paris in 1824; utilized the theory of “persistence of vision”

Fantascope, Phenakistiscope (“spindle viewer”), Fanatoscope: invented by Belgian inventor Joseph Plateau. Daedalum (Horner 1834)/Zoetrope (Lincoln 1867)
Daguerreotype: Invented in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Monde Daguerre. The process of capturing images on silvered, copper metal plates - the beginning of photography.

Celluloid: Invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt. Strips of thin film which could be developed with pictures.

Praxinoscope: Invented in 1877 by Charles Emile Reynaud. A film projector. This clip shows examples of Reynaud's animations. Recently, a filmmaker collected Reynaud's praxinoscope animations and created a digital film of what Reynaud might have been envisioning. Here is one of his animated films: Emile Reynaud: pauvre pierre animation (1892)
Light Bulb: Invented the long-lasting light bulb and secured the patent in 1879. Actually the light bulb predates this date. Edison patented the incandescent light bulb filament.
One of the first pioneers of “film” was the artist/inventor Eadweard Muybridge: 1830 - 1904. He used several cameras to take a sequence of shots. Film was cut into strips and used in a praxinoscope. Muybridge invented his Zoopraxiscope, photos printed on a glass disc that rotated, to create the illusion of moving images. Here's what the first Zoopraxiscope clip looked like.

Edison Manufacturing Company (directed by Edwin S. Porter):
HOMEWORK: Please read: Melies & Edwin S. Porter in the handout given to you today. Take notes in your journal/notebook about relevant or interesting points in the article. Also, any questions you may have, please record and ask in class.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Birth of Film

We will be covering a broad time line throughout this course, starting with the origin of film and moving on then to the present. For an idea of where we're starting today and where we're going by the end of the course, please take a few minutes this morning to watch this film: The History of Film.

The Birth of Film

Early film was little more than the thrill of capturing "real life." Finally, through technology, photographers were able to depict reality in a way never before possible. This had many uses. For one, it allowed people to witness strange or exotic locations, cultures, or people. Now someone who lived in New York City didn't have to spend a month on a steamer boat to visit far-away-lands. Presidents could be seen without having to campaign in your home town. Life could be seen as it "really was." These slices of life are documentaries in the strictest sense. They are  "actualities"-- little more than moving snapshots. Note there is no plot or character development--just real life.

Watch these early films from the late 1890's and early 1900's. As you watch, take notes about the director(s) and the titles and content of the film. Summarize in a few words or a sentence or two what each film is about. At the end of the collection, answer the following:
  • What do you notice about the films? 
  • What subject matter do they deal with? 
  • What do you notice about the shots and camera work in these films?
This observation should be written and turned in as participation credit today.

The Films

Edweard Muybridge (1830-1904): Our first pioneer of the art of film is the photographer Edweard Muybridge. Muybridge was a photographer who became famous when former California Governor Leland Stanford contacted him to help settle a bet over whether all four hooves of a running horse left the ground. Muybridge began experimenting with an array of 12 cameras photographing a galloping horse in a sequence of shots. Between 1878 and 1884, Muybridge perfected his method, proving that horses do have all four hooves off the ground at some point during their running stride. Muybridge worked at the University of Pennsylvania between 1883 and 1886, producing thousands of photographs of humans and animals in motion. He published several books featuring his motion photographs and toured Europe and North America, presenting his photographic methods using a projection device he'd developed, the Zoopraxiscope.

Some other interesting bits about Muybridge: During a break from his photographic research, his wife, Flora, had an affair with Major Harry Larkyns, a drama critic. Believing that Larkyns had fathered the couple's recently born son, Muybridge tracked him down, shot, and killed him. At his trial for murder in 1875, several witnesses testified that Muybridge's personality had changed after he received a head injury in which he lost his ability to taste and smell. The jury didn't buy the insanity defense, but acquitted Muybridge on the grounds of "justifiable homicide." Muybridge died in 1904. His contributions to art and photography spurred the works of other film inventors, many of which we will study today.

Please watch the following two films, the first a documentary: Photographs of Motion
and the second, a series of Muybridge's photographs, sped up to show motion.

The oldest surviving film in existence at this point is Louis Le Prince's Roundhay Garden Scene (1888). This sequence was recorded on an 1885 Eastman Kodak paper base photographic film through Le Prince's single-lens combi-camera-projector. It moved at 12 frames per second.

Le Prince's life was also interesting and there's a mystery (and some say conspiracy) attached to his death. Le Prince was never able to perform a planned public demonstration in the United States of his films because he mysteriously vanished from a train on 16 September, 1890 --His body and luggage (including his film camera) were never found. Le Prince's disappearance allowed Thomas Edison to take credit for the invention of motion pictures in America, but now Le Prince has been heralded as 'The Father of Cinematography.'

Edison Kinetoscope films: (1894-1896)
Titles in this clip include: The Kiss, Serpentine Dances, Sandow the Strong Man, Comic Boxing, Cock  Fighting, The Barber Shop, Feeding the Chickens, Seminary Girls & Boxing Cats

Many of Edison's early films were shot by W.K.L. Dickson. Thomas Edison invented the idea of the Kinetoscope but it was Dickson who designed it between 1889-1892. The first kinetoscope exhibition occurred in New York, NY in 1894.

Other Kinetoscope films:
At the same time, in France, the Lumiere Bros. were also working on the invention of film, particularly a camera that could also project a film for the benefit of an audience. Learn about The Lumiere Bros. (Documentary) here.
Please take a look at this film as a model for your own project (details to follow next class): The History of Early Film.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Welcome to Film Studies

Welcome to Film Studies!

This course is designed to provide you with a wide foundation of Film History and Film Studies, while also giving you experience writing film scripts and film reviews/critiques (as such found in the field of Journalism). You can find the course syllabus on my teacher website. By its end, you will understand the art of film hopefully more than you do now, and will gain a better appreciation for the art of filmmaking. Some of you may like this course of study so much you will take film courses in college, major in film studies, or become professional filmmakers. Others will at least benefit from knowing (and appreciating) the art of film.

This course (as Playwriting) will mostly be found online. Deadlines and assignments (with instructions) will be posted on the blog as needed. Please check the blog daily (even when absent) so you do not fall behind. Major projects and writing assignments will be located online in our elearning program.

To start please read this article and complete the following task(s) on an index card to turn in for participation credit:

Film Studies Commentary by David Bordwell
#1. Essential question: What's the difference between the way a film reviewer (journalist), a film historian, a film scholar, and a film fan evaluate a film?
#2. List your top 10 favorite films of all time.
#3. Name your favorite genres of film. (i,e. what do you prefer to watch?) Why?
Please read the article above, and answer the questions just above in complete sentences by the end of first period (required - due today). We will then have a discussion about film.

After our discussion in your JOURNAL/NOTEBOOK for film studies:

The TOP Films of All Time - A Personal Response by YOU!

For our class, this website by film historian Tim Dirks, will provide you with a lot of excellent information. We will be using the link throughout our course as a reliable source of information.
Please go to the link (on the right side of this post): Film History.

Other Resources:
  • (this is the international movie data base, and can be very helpful to you in this course).
  • Metacritic (a website where you can find all sorts of film reviews for models regarding how to write a film review--and for your own enjoyment)
  • The Internet Script database. This site publishes many contemporary film scripts. It will be important to check your film script formatting and go here to read scripts. There is a link to this page to your right of this post.
  • Many of the clips we will be watching in this class come from sites like You are probably already familiar with this website.
Today, I'd like you to spend some time reviewing the top films of all time. Please read Dirk's information, take a look through the list and note the following (perhaps in 3 columns):
A. Which films on this list have you personally seen? (jot down a few titles in your journal)
B. Which films on this list have you heard about, but never had the chance to see? (jot down a few titles)
C. If a movie looks interesting to you, please jot down its title in your journal.
At the last 5 minutes of class today, please get into groups of 3-4. No one in your group should be someone you sit directly next to. You will likely have to move and meet new people. Discuss your list with your group members. You may also spend any time remaining in class discussing films you love or hate. Why do you love or hate the film? Discuss.

HOMEWORK: Choose one of the films from the Internet Script Database and read a good portion of it for next class's discussion. Note the script format and be able to discuss the script you read with others.

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