Intro to Film Analysis

Dr. Leffel

Due by 11:59 pm on Thursday December 9th (***please note: this is a firm deadline, as I have a short window in which to finish grading and submit final grades!) 


Shot list and analysis prompt


Choose a short scene or sequence (3-5 minutes or so, but with a minimum of 15 discrete shots) from one of the films we have screened together. Note: you’ll likely end up with more shots than that in your scene! The # of discrete shots is more important than length of scene: if you choose a long scene with many more shots than 15, you can trim it down or do just part of the scene. Choose a scene that you find interesting and want to analyze!!


This assignment will consist of three parts:  


1) a short description of your scene or sequence that describes what happens (that is, the basic action: e.g., In this scene, Mrs. Miller leaves McCabe behind in her bedroom, walks outside and down the stairs, and then pauses dramatically against a fence).  You’re not analyzing yet, just contextualizing the basic action/plot of the scene you have chosen. This should be a few sentences at most.


2) Build an annotated shot list for that scene. A shot list, as the phrase suggests, is a sequential numerical list of all the shots that comprise the short scene you have selected (while “annotated” means you include short interpretive comments for shots in your list when appropriate). Each shot in the sequence should be numbered, and for each one you are to include: 

·      what kind of a shot is it (long shot, medium, close up, etc. etc)? How do we know? Why might this be significant/appropriate in this moment?

·      What is the shot’s duration (2 seconds? 10 seconds? A minute?, etc…) 

·      what is the camera’s position and/or angle? Why?

·      Describe the camera’s movement (remember, a shot that starts out as a medium shot can end up being a close-up. A medium or long shot might remain consistent, but follow the actors around, etc., etc… ) 

·      Is there anything notable about the mise-en-scene (i.e., visual arrangement of the shot)? 

·      Are there any other examples of cinematic language (or formal techniques) at play in the shot? (via editing, animation or digital special effects, etc..)


NOTE: you will want to look over and use your Chapter 6, on Cinematography, as a resource to help you complete the assignment. pages 204-222 offer a detailed discussion of various types of shots that will help you compile your list.   


Also please note: the structure/organization/layout of the shot list portion is up to you!  You might want to use a traditional numbered list, but you might also decide to put together a table to organize your information in columns and rows, include a film still from each shot as reference; etc…  It’s up to you! 


3) Finally, use your annotated shot list to develop a short (400-700 words or so) summative analysis of the scene you have just broken down in your list. You might recall the tutorial we watched about analyzing a scene from Juno to use as a model for this section.  Essentially, you want to analyze how the specific shots and other cinematic techniques you have identified work to create meaning in your scene as well as in the larger film.  (for instance, if you note lots of closeups and point of view shots in your scene, you want to address why the director and his camera crew decided to shoot that way).  Doing a good job on the list portion of the assignment—especially in your annotations or interpretive comments—will definitely give you a good start.  Think of the essay component as an opportunity to summarize and interpret the information you have presented in your list, but also to address larger significance of the scene, style, etc…


I will be grading these based on the thoroughness and completeness of your shot list and annotations, as well as the originality and depth of your formal analysis & the quality of your writing in part 3 (so make sure to proofread!).  


Remember, it’s up to you how you want to structure your list (a table, include images or don’t include images, etc…). As always, try to have fun but also to challenge yourself!!  



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