Writing your micro essay


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Writing your micro essay

  1. 1. AS Film Studies Unit FM1 Exploring Film Form: THE MICRO-ESSAY
  2. 2. What the exam board say… • An analysis of a film extract - 1500 words (30 marks) • Candidates are required to explore how one or more of mise-en- scène, performance, cinematography, editing, and sound construct meaning and provoke response in a film extract. • Candidates are encouraged to support their work with illustrative visual material. • Recommended length of extract: approximately 3-5 minutes (depending on the complexity of the extract).
  3. 3. What are you supposed to be looking at? • The focus of FM1 is primarily but not exclusively on micro features. For example the genre may have an impact on the constructions of the scene and thus how the micro features are used, or the sequence may be a key narrative turning point • You need to be able to analyse a sequence of film using micro features • Key to this coursework is that you show knowledge of not only the formal systems at work within the film, but knowledge of the interaction between film and spectator, an awareness of your active role as spectators, and thinking about whether the micro features used have had the ‘desired’ effect on you?
  4. 4. Getting started… • You must choose to write about one - three of the micro features • You may have noticed that exam board have separated performance from mise-en-scene. Just remember this is to do with how the actor is performing and portraying the character and their emotions.
  5. 5. Analysing your sequence • Once you have chosen your film sequence you should watch it several times making notes on your chosen aspect(s). • If you have not yet chosen which aspect of film language you are going to focus on then these screening will help you to do this. • Remember you should focus on a maximum of three aspects of film language. • The analysis must have detailed references to the text so you may find it easier to write your notes • in three columns to help you do this: Observation Example Evaluation Costume is used to show details about how the characters are feeling When Jeff enters the brightly lit bar, he is dressed in grey whereas all of the other characters are dressed in bright colours This suggests he is alienated from those around him and gives the audience a sense of his depressed state of mind
  6. 6. Analysing your sequence • After taking your notes • You should then start to group your ideas and see if you can come up with an overall reading of the clip: • After looking at the cinematography in the sequence from Jurassic Park it is obvious that the camerawork is used to make the audience feel the panic that the characters feel.
  7. 7. Analysing your sequence • Your introduction should outline the film, the director and the sequence that you are to focus on. You may which to include a short (2- 3 sentence) synopsis of the film (outline of the story). • The main body of the essay should be your analysis. The best way to approach this is CHRONICALLY (in the order it happens in the sequence)
  8. 8. Some questions to get you thinking: • In this essay you have to go beyond identifying and describing in formal/technical terms how micro features are deployed. It is necessary to address the question of how the strategies used by the filmmakers impact on the spectator. • You need to be able to explain adequately why a film extract affects you as it does. Start work on an extract by asking: • What is happening to me as I watch this? Why? • How far is it the use of one or more micro features that is responsible for my response?
  9. 9. Essay Structure • Title (example) • How does cinematography, mise-en-scene and sound construct meaning and provoke a response in a sequence from The Descent (Neil Marshall, 2005) • You would change the underlined sections to fit your chosen micro features and film
  10. 10. Essay Structure • Introduction • Your introduction should end by identifying which film and which sequence you are going to use in your analysis. You should ‘place’ the sequence in the film briefly and again briefly outline what happens in your sequence. Your introduction should show your reader that you understand the importance of micro features in the creation of meaning and audience response. You should summarise the main types of meaning which can be generated by the micro features you have chosen to study.
  11. 11. Essay Structure • Middle Paragraphs • The main paragraphs within your essay should show a systematic and thorough evaluation of the impact/effect of your chosen micro features on your film’s audience. • Your essay will appear more fluid and fluent if you work systematically through your sequence in the order it runs, identifying and discussing micro features as they ‘appear’. • Micro features are used interdependently by filmmakers and you will need to discuss how your chosen features work together, as well as separately, to create meaning and response. • Don’t forget to back-up each of the points you make with a clear example from your film. • The exam board encourages you to use screen shots in your analysis. This is to avoid too much description and will allow you to focus on analysing the effects.
  12. 12. Essay Structure • Conclusion • Your conclusion should summarise the meanings and responses you think your chosen micro features have generated. You should also comment on whether or not you think the micro features you have analysed have produced meanings and responses effectively in your chosen sequence. • You should also feel free to include images – sketches of key frames or film stills if this helps with your analysis.
  13. 13. Some advice • You are encouraged to use frame grabs to avoid over describing a scene, thus allowing you to produce a more analytical piece of work • Extracts ideally should be self contained sequences or part of a sequence which in itself has a definable beginning and end point • Extracts should be of genuine interest to you – so that the work is motivated by a sense of enquiry • Characteristic feature(s) that are the focus for the analysis should be clearly recognisable within the extract. (i.e. it should be easy for others to spot what micro features are key in the sequence)
  14. 14. Presentations • The presentations must: • Follow the structure the Micro Essay • Introduce your sequence and tell us what micro features you will be focusing on • Include a full screening of the sequence • The presentations can take the form of a PowerPoint to include stills from the sequence, and obviously clips from the sequence to illustrate the points you make • You conclusion should include some personal response about what you felt about the use of the micro features and why.
  15. 15. Presentations • MOST IMPORTANTLY • Be well prepared, rehearse the presentation so that you’re not nervous and also so that you don’t just read off the screen or paper and become BORING • TOP TIP – When creating a PowerPoint DON’T put everything you want to say on the PowerPoint page use the notes sections below to supplement anything else you want to say. Print the PowerPoint off as notes pages and use this as your script
  16. 16. More help • Click here for example micro essays • Click here for how you will be marked
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