AS Film Studies
Exploring Film Form:
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).
What are you supposed to be
• 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?
• 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.
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
• 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
This suggests he is
alienated from those
around him and gives the
audience a sense of his
depressed state of mind
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.
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
• 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
Some questions to get you
• 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?
• 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
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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)
• 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
• 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
• Click here for example micro essays
• Click here for how you will be marked
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.