FILM STUDIES COURSEWORK REQUIREMENTS:
Coursework is 50% of your overall grade
4 MAIN PIECES OF WORK:
1. Exploring a film of the candidate’s choice (25 marks)
An exploration of the micro features of film language in a short
extract from a film of the candidate’s choice (350 – 750
2. Pitch and Preproduction (30 marks)
Candidates create a pitch for an imaginary film
(approximately150 words) and then use it to form the basis of
a pre-production chosen from a range of options.
3. Production (35 marks)
Create a production chosen from a range of options.
4. Evaluative Analysis (10 marks)
A brief evaluative analysis highlighting what candidates have
learnt about the main study areas for film from their
preproduction and production work (film language, film
organisations and audiences).
THIS BOOKLET WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH PART ONE OF
EXPLORING A FILM OF CANDIDATE’S CHOICE
This section is made up of 2 parts:
Film Exploration: Industry (5 marks)
Your first piece of coursework requires you to explore a film that you
have particularly enjoyed and do some brief research into how it was
produced, distributed and exhibited. All of your research for the film
will be collected on a blog and then put into a specially design pro-
forma which will allow you to summarise your findings. This initial
piece of work will allow lead into a more detailed consideration of the
ways in which the micro features of film language communicate
Steps to completing this coursework:
1. Choose a film
2. Start a blog
3. Research how your film was produced, distributed and
4. Record all research on your blog
5. Summarise research findings on the pro-forma
Textual (Micro) Analysis (20 marks)
In class we have looked at a variety of different film sequences and
to thought about the way in which the film’s language is used to
create certain meanings and how we respond to those meanings.
You should now have the analytical tools and terminology needed to
succeed. For this piece of coursework you need to show an
understanding the ways in which the micro features are used to
communicate meaning. For example, lighting and sound (two of the
micro features of film language) can combine to create a particular
kind of atmosphere.
You are required to produce a written analysis of 350 – 750 words
which focuses on how one or more of the micro feature(s) (e.g.
mise-en-scène, editing, camerawork and sound) create meanings
and generate responses in a chosen film sequence from the film
you researched for industry (maximum length: 5 minutes).
Film Exploration: Industry (5 marks)
The following will help you understand the film industry so that you
can start researching your film and working on your blog
Activities involved in the actual making of the film
All films begin with an idea which then gets turned into a screenplay
by a screenwriter. Often film narratives [stories] are based on real-
life events, books, plays or old films which are remade, sequelled or
adapted. The screenwriter usually then pitches his/her screenplay
to film studios/production companies or directors who will then
take the screenplay on to the production stage and make the film. If
a film has major stars in it the production budget could easily be
more than $80 million. Generally the screenwriter is paid between
2.5%-5% of this budget, so a screenwriter with a really good
screenplay could expect to earn $1 million.
Deciding where a film will be shown and publicising this
Once any film is made it has to travel in order to reach its audience.
Distribution involves acquiring a film from its producers and trying
to make it reach the widest possible audience by selling it to the
places where films are going to be shown—to exhibitors (cinemas).
Distributors need to make sure that when a film reaches its
destination there are lots of people waiting to see it. So, we need to
know about the film before it arrives at its exhibition destination. A
film usually needs to make about two and a half times what it cost to
produce just to ensure it doesn't lose money. Distributors have a
number of roles to fulfil. Firstly, they try to find out what kind of
audiences might want to go and see the film, using test screenings
with test audiences where people are invited to see the film and are
then asked lots of question about it This can lead to changes being
made to the film. Then there's marketing and publicity—posters,
merchandising, festivals and premieres—a summer blockbuster
would cost around $100 million to promote! Finally, timing is very
important when the film is eventually released, particularly as the
opening weekend can account for 50-75% of a film's overall box
The distributor also decides the release pattern for the film, release
patterns refer to how often and where film will be shown – general
release is as wide as possible, limited release may only be in
London or specialist cinemas.
Where the film is shown – cinemas of varying types
This is the last of these three interconnected areas and is the point
where we finally get to see the film. The ways in which we view films
are changing rapidly. For example, big Multiplex cinemas are
everywhere now, offering a variety of 'additions' to the cinematic
experience such as fast-food, arcades and bowling alleys as well as
a huge choice of blockbuster films to see. There are less and less
smaller, Independent cinemas and many people choose to watch
films at home on DVD or [legally or illegally) downloaded from the
internet. During the exhibition phase, reviews are very important and
can make or break a film when it reaches the cinema as audiences
may avoid a film which has been negatively reviewed or make an
effort to go and see one that has received positive reviews. This is
not always the case; of course, Titanic critically slated in 1997 but
went on to become one of the most successful films ever made.
So now you know all of that start your blog and use the tick list
worksheet to help you research your chosen film
USEFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU RESEARCH:
Section 1 - Introduction
Write a brief synopsis of your chosen film and give some
reasons why you like it.
Add some screen shots of key scenes and/or a video link to
a key scene.
Section 2 - Production
Find out where the idea for your film came from and who
wrote the screenplay.
Who directed the film? Has he or she directed any other
Who starred in the film?
Which studio made the film? Give some details about it.
What was the budget for the film?
Where was it made? Did the funding come from more than
Can you find any other interesting facts about the
production of your film?
Section 3 – Distribution
Find out about all the different ways your film was promoted
before it reached cinemas.
Find a poster advertising your film and write an analysis of
it, looking at: genre elements in cluding props, costume and
settings; the use of stars; special selling points; target
audience; references to other films/books/TV shows;
images, colours, typography (fonts) used.
Find examples of any merchandising (the use of products—
e.g. McDonalds toys) done to promote your film. Write a list
and/or include images.
Was your film screened in any film festivals or at a
premiere before its release?
Section 4 – Exhibition
Which cinema chains screened your film in the UK? Did
any independent cinemas show it?
How much money did it make in the UK, the US and
worldwide in its opening weekend and altogether?
Find at least two reviews of your film from different
publications, one from the UK and one from
the US and add them. Comment on whether you agree with
the reviews or not and why.
Find out how much money your film has made in DVD
sales (if it's been released to DVD) and/or how many
copies it's sold.
Textual (Micro) Analysis (20 marks)
So now you’ve learnt about the ways in which your favourite film
was produced, distributed and exhibited, you can now analyse a
sequence from the same film paying attention to one on more of the
micro features. Your chosen sequence should not be more than 5
Look at Sarah's analysis below of the ways in which camera framing
and camera movement combine to create meaning in the opening
sequence of Tsotsi.
The bold text indicates the parts where she shows her
understanding of key concepts and when she uses the
appropriate terminology accurately.
The italic text indicates the points where she identifies
camera shots or movement and then goes on to examine the
meanings/effects that are created by their use.
Finally, and this is very important, the underlined text shows
the places where Sarah has given her own response to the
sequence - how it made her feel and why
An analysis of how camerawork is used In the opening
sequence of Tsotsi
The opening scene is introduced with a game which involves dice.
There is a close-up of the dice to symbolise that life is a game
of chance as nobody can choose who their parents are and
how they end up in life sometimes. There is also a repeated
motif of close-ups of hands which could show their working
class background and the fact that they are used to doing
manual labour. It could also show that we all have the power to
change in our hands.
Because of the camera, framing we are able to identify the main
character who is Tsotsi. He isn't really introduced straight away
until a, powerful dose-up that is emphasised by the music
kicking in at the same time. The non-diegetic sound-track is
parallel to the image of the four boys walking down the street as it
highlights their authority. After we've seen them walking down
the street there is an establishing shot that lets us know the
circumstances they have to live in. It is a high angled shot
indicating that the people in the township are small and
powerless over their surroundings.
After this Tsotsi and his gang go to do a job which seems to be a,
regular occurrence. As they arrive at the train platform there's a,
panning shot so that we can pick them out of the crowd. At
first it is hard to see them as they are blending in so as not to
appear suspicious. Another high angled shot, this time looking
down on the crowd and the gang, shows a massive orange banner
centre frame. It is highly noticeable and attracts our
attention straight away as it reads 'HIV affects all of
us'. This is a terrible virus that has unfortunately taken its toll on
Africa where, if you are lucky enough not to contract the disease,
you will more than likely know someone who has.
The scene which follows shows the gang scouting for their next
victim. A series of medium shots are used to pick out a range
of possible victims. However, the shot of a chirpy old man is
longer which, instantly tells us that something is going to
happen to him. Also he is portrayed as a jolly old man who
smiles as he buys a gift from a stall. We have already formed
an opinion of him and have warmed to him. An extreme close-
up then shows us Tsotsi's eyes which show no expression; this
connotes that he has no conscience. He stares intently at the
man. It then quickly edits back to the victim and zooms in on an
envelope of money; here the audience click on to the fact that
Tsotsi is going to steal the money.
I think this opening sequence really sets up the story well. We
learn a lot about Tsotsi and his gang, their environment and
what they are about to do through the camerawork. Very little
dialogue is used but a feeling of real tension is built up very
quickly and we want to watch on to find out what will happen
Watch your sequence through at least three times, making notes
as you do so. You may want to pause the film at certain points,
or rewind if you think you've missed something. Remember your
main focus areas but, like Sarah, you may want to mention other
elements of film language when they combine to create
meaning. Use your notes to write the first draft of your textual