Film Studies Coursehand Book

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  • 1. AS FILM STUDIES The Film Studies ‘A’ Level course is split in to four distinct units Two AS units and Two A2 units AS LEVEL Unit 1 – FM1 20% (40%) Internal AssessmentExploring Film Form ONE Analysis of how the micro aspects of a chosen extract from a film of candidate’s choice produces meaning and responses (1,500 words) [30] ONE Creative project based on a film sequence or short film and one Reflective Analysis of the project [50] (Creative project 40 marks / Reflective Analysis 10 marks) Unit 2 – FM2 30% (60%) External AssessmentBritish & American FilmThree questions from each section Section A – Response to stimulus material set by awarding body based on Producers and Audiences of film [40] Section B – Topics in British Film [40] Section C – US Film – Comparative study of two films [40] What are the aims of the course?The aims of AS are: 1. To develop students’ interest in, appreciation and knowledge of film, specifically through studying The film – the way film as an audio-visual form of creative expression constructs meaning, provokes varieties of spectator response and raises issues of personal, social, cultural, political and ethical significance And through studying The film’s producers and audiences – the relationship between the production and consumption of films, with particular reference to Hollywood and British film;
  • 2. 2. To provide students with a foundation in the analysis of film, together with subject specialist language, and to introduce them to creative and production skills. INTRODUCTION TO FM1 : FILM – EXPLORING FILM FORMThis is the first unit of your AS Film Studies course. So that you are not introduced to an overwhelmingamount of information at the beginning of the course, the unit aims to draw on your existing knowledgeof films, while at the same time introducing you to a range of new concepts and terminology. EXPLORING FILM FORMThis unit focuses on the micro features of film and the construction of meaning and emotion.Understanding will be fostered through: Studying micro features of film: mise-en-scene, performance, cinematography, editing and sound Identifying how these features construct meanings and contribute to the sensory impact of the film Reflecting on an individual’s response to micro features of film as a means of exploring the relationship between film and spectator Creating a sequence to demonstrate how micro features produce meaning and responsesThroughout this unit, the emphasis will be on the interactions of film and spectatorSKILLS REQUIRED FOR THE UNITThe three main skills you will need to demonstrate in Unit 1 are: An ability to show how the form and style of film work to communicate meaning An ability to discuss how film form and style engage the audience An ability to reflect on and discuss your own experience as a consumer of filmYour discussions of how a particular film generates meaning through its form may consider whichstorytelling techniques a film uses or how the individual scenes are organised. If your chosen film ends witha resolution, where all the pieces of the cinematic jigsaw are brought together, then you could commenton the impact of this type of explained ending on the cinematic audience. Your discussion of a film’s stylemight identify particular use of a genre element (choreographed action sequences in action films orfrightening places in horror film, for example) and analyse what reaction the film is attempting to drawfrom its audience.The second of the skills needed for this unit is the ability to discuss how film form and style engage anaudience. You should translate ‘engage’ as the way in which an audience is encouraged to respond. Youmight discuss how the particular use of a camera angle might influence theviewer’s identification with a character, or pick out a particular piece ofmusic from the soundtrack and consider how it is used to createapprehension and fear in the audience.The last of the skills is the ability to reflect on and discuss your ownexperiences as a film consumer. You will have a wide range of experiencesto draw on and should select those that are the most relevant to yourdiscussions.The unit will cover one main topic area that you will come to refer to asMICRO elements. However, we will also be looking at MACRO elements ofthe film i.e. the narrative and genre of the film throughout the analysis.
  • 3. You must remember to consider how both of the aspects are inextricably linked togetherKILLS REQUIRED FOR THE UNIT WHAT ARE MICRO AND MARCO?MACRO ElementsFor the study of the MACRO elements, the two mains terms to consider areGENRE and NARRATIVE. For each film genre you need to know the keyconventions and have examples of films. For ease of understanding, the termNARRATIVE can be translated as story construction and movement. The termGENRE describes the group or category which your chosen film(s) fall in to.Narrative and genre cannot be ‘seen’ within a film, as mise-en-scene, forexample might be. However, the choice a filmmaker makes regardingnarrative and genre elements are equally important in the construction of meaning.MICRO Elements For the micro analysis, the main areas you will be looking at are MISE-EN-SCENE, CINEMATOGRAPHY, SOUND, EDITING and PERFORMANCE. The micro elements of a film work together to create the film’s look, narrative, characters, settings and meanings. The director’s choice of camerawork, editing, sound and mise-en-scene for a film creates what you eventually see on the screen. Micro elements are important not o nly for how a film appears to its audience but also for conveying different meanings. Micro elements might be used in an unusual way to make viewers think and to challenge their expectations of a film. Imagine the piece of music you would think would be attached to the villain of a film. Your expectations would probably be of an ominous, dark, maybe brooding piece. If your expectations were met, it would be clearhow you were supposed to respond to that character. If the piece of music attached to the villain werelighter or sadder, rather than chilling, you might have to revise your expectations. SKILLS REQUIRED FOR THE UNITThe two tasks, which you will be asked to complete are a MICRO (close) analysis of a film sequence, and apiece of practical work – either a film sequence or short film. 1. An analysis of a film extract – 1,500 words (30 marks) For the MICRO study, you will be required to explore how one or more of the micro elements of mise-en-scene, cinematography, sound, editing and performance construct meaning and provoke a response in a film extract. You will analyse one film, choosing a sequence of no more than 3 – 5 minutes. You will also be encouraged to include some illustrative material to help analyse the extract in more detail. 2. Creative Project: aims and context, film sequence or short film and reflective analysis (50 marks)
  • 4. You will need to create an idea for a film and present your ideas in one of 3 main forms: an extended step outline, a photographed storyboard or a film sequence or short film. You will also need to submit relevant written work that discuss the aims of your practical work and evaluate its success on completion.The films that you study throughout the topic can be from American, British or another national cinema.The only stipulation is that these films are accessible and appealing to an audience. You should avoidchoosing films that are too abstract, avant-garde or experimental.FM1 is worth 40% of your AS marks and 20% of the whole A-Level grade. Withinthe unit, the tasks have individual vale. The written micro analysis is worth 30marks and the creative project is work 50 marks, 40 marks for the aims and contextand the film sequence and 10 marks for the reflective analysis. We will look at thisin more detail later in the unit.The micro piece needs to be no more than 1,500 words – you should not exceedthe upper word limit. EXPLORING FILM FORM – MICRO ANALYSISWe will be looking at the following aspects of film features throughout this unit. It is vital that you becomefamiliar with the terminology used and that you develop an understanding of how these elements work tocreate meaning for the audience. MISE-EN-SCENE includes setting, props, staging, costume and makeup, figure expression and movement and off-screen space PERFORMANCE includes physical expression, vocal delivery and interaction between performers (with reference to issues of staging/choreography where relevant) CINEMATOGRAPHY includes photographic elements (e.g. camera position, colour, lens, depth of focus) lighting, framing and composition and special effects EDITING includes the organisation of time, both with a sequence and across sections of the narrative and the organisation of space, especially in creating coherence for the spectator. The principal conventions of continuity editing, such as shot/reverse/shot and the 180 degree rule, will be studied. The uses of montage editing will also be considered SOUND included Diegetic sound, non-Diegetic sound and the variety of ways in which aural elements (e.g. speech, music and noise) are used in relation to visuals. COURSE REQUIREMENTS You will have two lessons on FM1 each week until the end of this half term. You will begin your coursework just prior to the half term break in October. Homework will be set on a regular basis. This must be submitted on or before the due date. You must also complete preparatory reading and other tasks set, which are not formally assessed, if you are to get the most out of each lesson.
  • 5. It is vital that you do not miss any lessons, as you will find it difficult to catch up on screenings. If you domiss any lessons: Ensure that you collect any handouts and copy up notes from classmates Find out if any homework has been set