(Ch. 3) Response Assignment #2 (due Sept. 17)

Chapter 3 Assignment for the Film Critic:

Read and engage in materials from chapter 3 listed below:

A. The timeline on Film History 101 linked at the bottom of that page: 

B. The Five Stages of Filmmaking.Truffaut

C. How We Watch Films

D. Explore Careers in Filmmaking

E. Film Theory Introduction


*After engaging in all materials and listening to the interview with Lawrence Toppman, answer three of the following crowd-7questions in the comments section below:

  1.  What did you find most interesting about the film history timeline? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
  2.  What do you feel has been the most important historical aspect of audience/technology in filmmaking? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
  3.  Which stage of the filmmaking process do you feel is most interesting/important? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
  4. Which film theory do you most subscribe to at this point as you consider film criticism? Do you feel that may change as you engage in more film criticism? Why or how?Defend your answer. auteur

Bonus question for consideration and dialogue next week: Which crew position did you learn the most about (or did you enjoy learning about) from exploring the responsibilities? What was interesting about that position?

*Please post your responses at the bottom of this page before 11:59 pm on Monday, September 17.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Celia García Martín says:

    1. What did you find most interesting about the film history timeline? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
    After reviewing the film history timeline, I would say that the most striking fact is how fast technological improvements evolved regarding cinema. The 19th century was one before and one after in the history of filmmaking presenting revolutionary techniques such as the thaumatrope, phenakistoscope or zoetrope. In a short period of time these first inventions gave way to the first experiences of film watching along with sound and color effects. Cinema quickly became a social phenomenon and both actors and directors were considered to belong to a privileged status. Cinema also meant the appearance of many filmmaking industries, which made a lot of money in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
    All these events led to the concept of cinema that we have nowadays. On the one hand, many aspects have improved by far the visual and auditory quality of films. On the other hand, although cinema continues to be a huge industry, it has partially lost its unique character and authenticity becoming sometimes rather overcrowded and commercial.
    I wonder if the first filmmakers such as Muybridge or the Lumière Brothers imagined the enormous impact that their discoveries would have until the present day.
    2. Which stage of the filmmaking process do you feel is most interesting/important? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
    Although every step in the process of filmmaking is essential for the final result as a whole, the development stage is truly the basis of every film and should be carried out very carefully. It is at this point where many risky and important decisions are to be made in order to start with the filmmaking process. The later stages are also key to a film to work. However, what is the point of having a movie with spectacular special effects if the characters have not been well developed from the beginning? I would describe the challenge of filmmaking as the construction of a house. The development stage is the foundations that will support all other elements. Therefore, preproduction, production, postproduction and exhibition will be the items that we will be adding to the foundations of the house to make it look better. But, again, if that basis is not strong enough, the house will eventually fall, meaning that the film will be missing essential components to succeed.

    3. Which film theory do you most subscribe to at this point as you consider film criticism? Do you feel that may change as you engage in more film criticism? Why or how? Defend your answer.
    All theories support important elements to consider in any film. Nevertheless, the screenplay is, in my opinion, the one component that determines the quality of the whole movie. For example, we could have a good script + a mediocre director + mediocre performances and still come up with a good product at the end. Such is the case of movies like “Matchstick Men” (with Nicolas Cage), “Cop Land” (Sylvester Stallone) or “Hours” (Paul Walker), where actors who usually take part in commercial or merely action movies stand out portraying complex characters thanks to a good script.
    Let’s think about the opposite formula: bad script + good director + good actors. There are endless examples of good directors who have ended up making mediocre movies because the script was not well designed in the first place. In this regard there are examples like “Scoop” by Woody Allen, an entertaining yet expendable film, “The Brothers Grimm” by Terry Gillian or “Mimic” by Guillermo del Toro. In short, the screenplay can become the true lifesaver of a movie.

    Celia García Martín

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:


      I believe the social impact of cinema interactions is just as important today, in theatres, especially, but also in-homes and social media and online circles. I believe the Lumière Brothers knew they had something special, but I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted the impact “that is cinema” today.

      I really love your description of the “foundation” in relation to construction. Great thoughts.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about “the script-theory” approach. It will be interesting to see how the rest of us explore the theories that best suit our critiques.

      Thanks Celia


  2. 1. On the timeline, I was very interested in how Netflix actually started as a movie rental company in 1997. I had no clue that they changed the game from a rental service to a streaming service. I thought that Netflix was a new competitor, but I found it interesting that Blockbusters and Netflix were actually long-standing rivals. Netflix being a mail delivery rental service and Blockbusters being a drop in pick up service.

    2. While looking at the five stages, it seems like the completion and success of each stage is essential to the overall success of the movie. Therefore, I would argue that all of the stages are equally important. If you don’t advertise a film, then all the work that occurred during production would have been a waste. Or if there was little planning put into the production stage, then there will be problems in post-production because there isn’t good enough footage to work with. Each stage is very dependent on the others for being successful. So in terms of the different stages being interesting, I would have to say that the post-production is the most interesting to me. I love editing! When you edit film footage you must look at the acting, continuity, sequencing, and importance to the overall story. I feel like there is a lot of power in the editing stage.

    3. I definitely align more with The Symphonic-Puzzle Theory. As I stated in, “The stage of the filmmaking process,” I believe that all stages of the film process are important to the overall success of the film. To support my point, in a soccer team you may have one or two captains, but the captains can’t control how the different players on the team play. This is why I don’t believe The Auteur Theory, there are so many people on a set working on a film in the different stages of the filmmaking process. The success of the film really can’t be boiled down to one person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:


      Yeah, I joined Netflix in 1998, about a year after they launched. It was a fascinating model, and one that Blockbuster (and other video store chains) refused to admit would change the game.

      Agreed that all stages have importance for varied reasons … how did I know that you’d find a way to be drawn to the post-production stage.

      Thanks for the theory feedback. We’ll all see where we fall as we get deeper into the semester.

      Noel Manning II


  3. drewpeden says:

    1) What did you find most interesting about the film history timeline? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
    • The thing that I found the most interesting about the film history timeline was the amount of time that Netflix has been around. I knew they used to deliver movies via mail, but I had no idea that the company has been around for 21 years. That’s as long as I’ve been alive! My family got movies from blockbuster up until streaming became more popular. My family is still retro in some way, we still watch DVDs, and while we do have Netflix and other streaming services, we still tend to watch hard copies of movies. I had no idea that it was Netflix’s delivery services that ultimately lead to Blockbusters to shut down, I thought they were always around until streaming became popular. I was wrong and it was great to be informed! My town actually still has a Family Video, and we still rent movies from there from time to time.
    2) Which stage of the filmmaking process do you feel is most interesting/important? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
    • I’ve seen a lot of movies, and I have seen both good and bad movies. To me, the most important stage of the filmmaking process is Pre-Production. Any movie that anyone writes has the potential to be a great film, but to me, it is who they cast in the film that make it or break it for me. You wouldn’t want to cast an amateur actor for a major role in a film that has the potential to win an award. Bad casting can make a hole in one movie, sub-par. Also budgeting is extremely important because you don’t want to spend an excess amount of money in places where it is not needed. Without a firm budget, productions can run out of money, which can result in certain scenes looking lazy or not as well constructed as scenes in which a solid budget was used.
    3) Which film theory do you most subscribe to at this point as you consider film criticism? Do you feel that may change as you engage in more film criticism? Why or how? Defend your answer.
    • The film theory that I most certainly subscribe to the most is The Symphonic-Puzzle Theory, which states that the director of a film is only one piece of the puzzle that determines if a film is good or not. The director may be amazing, even the best in the world, but if the cinematography or the post production editing isn’t at the same level as the director or other parts of the film making process, then the results could be disastrous. I do not think that my opinion will change as I engage in more film criticism because I am very critical when it comes to bad acting or bad camera shots and I can really pick out bad editing in films. I have a minor in video and film making, and I have learned numerous types of editing and post production actions, and I can spot when something is done wrong or poorly.

    9.15.18 – Drew Peden

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Pretty cool that your family still goes to “Family Video” stores, that seems to be one of the few remaining. I joined Netflix the year after it launched; it was easy to choose the films you wanted and they were mailed right to your house with a return (postage paid) envelope, It was also less expensive than Blockbuster.

      Interesting thoughts about “acting” being the thing that appeals to you most in filmmaking (pre-production stage = casting).
      As we explore “acting” in future lessons, I’ll look forward to your thoughts there.

      Thanks Drew


  4. 1What did you find most interesting about the film history timeline? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
    Woah, I also had no idea that Netflix had been around since the ninety’s! It’s actually very impressive considering they’ve probably had to undergo extensive branding rebirths to keep up with the times. Especially in this day and age where it changes every hour it seems. Something else I noticed going down the timeline and looking up some of the earlier actresses and actors is how much fashion and makeup has changed. They look so clean and unedited compared to actors now, but I wonder if viewers then saw the looks unachievable like we do know.

    3 Which stage of the filmmaking process do you feel is most interesting/important? Why? Defend your answer in detail.
    Development or post production are the two out of five I’m mostly interested in. Conceiving an idea and making it happen truly impresses me. The creatives in this world whose extensive daydreams become motion pictures, and ALSO have the effort to create a screenplay, truly have so much to do with how our lives are shaped today. And creatives involved in the post production stage of a film are just as awe-inspiring. Film editors who have to alter their artistic taste in order to subscribe to the directors orders are vital to most any movie we’ve ever watched.

    4 Which film theory do you most subscribe to at this point as you consider film criticism? Do you feel that may change as you engage in more film criticism? Why or how?Defend your answer.
    The symphonic-puzzle theory is probably the level I’m at. Logically, that theory makes sense more than the other two. The film’s screenwriter may really be A #1, but take a turn for the worst when actors come into play. Same for directing regardless of him being in charge of most aspects. I feel like if I learned more about the roles of a director or the importance of screenwriting, then my opinion may change some.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Netflix began as an experiment & they really had no idea of what they’d ultimately become. They just continued to try to offer “audiences” what they were looking for.

      Thanks for your thoughts on theory & stages of filmmaking


  5. jalissa9 says:

    1. What I found interesting in the timeline is basically how things changed within cinema especially when it comes to NETFLIX! It is so popular right now that I didn’t realize that it has been with us for over 21 years. That blockbuster was actually competing with them even though at first Netflix was just mailing movies to your house while blockbuster you could walk in or order. I find it interesting how something old could make such a huge comeback. The way blockbuster was super popular died out and now all of sudden Netflix if the next big thing. Why was it not as big as before and why are we so fascinated by it when not much changed? Except for you can stream films now I feel that in the timeline it was a huge impact for cinema for our time.

    2. Which stage of the filmmaking process do you feel is most interesting/important? Why? Defend your answer in detail? I feel the most important step is preproduction. Every step is important in their own certain way, but I feel that preproduction is where you make or break your film. This is where you pick cast, location, design and etc. Casting actors seem very difficult I never seem to figure out how directors pick there cast. When I see certain movies I sometimes look at the character and think to myself this person was the right one for the job I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role. Even though there are some movies where the actor is a beginner not well known and you can tell. You need to always make sure the character and actor go along and make sense. When it comes to location you don’t want a summertime fun movie is located in the middle of Alaska or on a day where it’s snowy or windy. Movies take months to a year so scheduling is important when it comes down to budget costing. Preproduction is where you make everything else flow without it you will most likely crash and burn.
    3. The Symphonic-Puzzle Theory
    Is one I tend not to agree one for reasons that the director is in charge and is the main lead. He or she is the one that comes up with all the concepts and like I said preproduction. It could be there fault that the movie goes to shreds, but it also could be the actors or camera crew. At times you can feed the actors line give them instructions, but that does not mean they can perform the exact way you envision. You might want a certain angle and the camera crew gives you something different. Does that mean they are a bad cameraman? Bad actors? Or a bad director? No there are certain things out of your control. Kind of when it comes to teachers you assign a student homework, but that does not mean the student has to do it. It’s up to the student whether or not he wants to do it or not.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Another thing that Netflix did was to become a “film & TV production” studio. They have continued to evolve. For them it is not just about offering a distribution/viewing platform, but it is also about creating the art of filmmaking.

      Great thoughts and understanding of the pre-production stage. This becomes a true “foundation” stage of the entire filmmaking process.

      As we review films, I want us to look at the “whole of the filmmaking process”, to explore the strengths and weaknesses, and be able to explain what works and what doesn’t.

      Thanks Jalissa


  6. 1) What did you find most interesting about the film history timeline? Why? Defend your answer in detail.

    The thing I found the most interesting was that I didn’t know that Technicolor was created before they ever had sound in movies. Clearly, black and white films were the dominant feature in the mid-19th century, but I also didn’t realize that there was a separation between a colored film getting a nomination as opposed to a black and white film getting a nomination. Black and white movies aren’t as popular today as they were back in the 1900s, and I think it’s interesting to see how much that has evolved and how much it spoke for the filmmaking process and the production process.

    2) What do you feel has been the most important historical aspect of audience/technology in filmmaking? Why? Defend your answer in detail.

    Maybe it’s because I love being immersed in the movies I’m watching, but I firmly believe that Jaws was the origin of the term ‘summer blockbuster.’ It broke so many box-office records and it’s why we have so many summer movies that are released every year. I would argue that the success of any recent summer movie is because of Jaws. The movie, while primarily about a shark terrorizing people, is actually a movie with great characters that you care about and a story that’s worth the investment. The success of Jaws is what made us get Star Wars, Jurassic Park or Avengers.

    3) Which stage of the filmmaking process do you feel is most interesting/important? Why? Defend your answer in detail.

    I really think the most important stage of the filmmaking process is the story. How does it start? Where does it end? It’s one thing to have a lock on where you’re going to shoot your picture. It’s one thing to have a good sense as to where your character goes next; All that’s great but it all starts from a story and how those ideas come about. Because once you have that underway, you can then start to the filmmaking process, and maybe even have some creative differences with others, but as long as you have a strong sense as to what the story is about then things should move nice and steady with patience and sincerity.

    Zane Gray

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Technology has continued to be the key to evolution and success within filmmaking, and that will only continue. In 20 years from now, it will be fascinating to see what is added to that timeline.

      Thanks for your thoughts on Jaws as the Grandfather of the “Blockbuster.” We’ll continue to explore this even more this semester.

      Zane – You really didn’t address the “stage” question as it related to the readings. The “Story” is not considered a “stage” on its own. I’d encourage you to go back and revisit the readings and reply back here.

      Thanks -NTM


  7. Thomas Manning says:

    What did you find most interesting about the film history timeline? Why? Defend your answer in detail.

    Interestingly enough, I was fascinated with some of the oldest film technology more than anything, such as the phenakistoscope and the praxinoscope. The incredible attention to detail is very impressive. The creators of these had to be highly skilled artists with deep understandings of math and geometry in order to line up the moving shapes perfectly with each other. In looking to the first feature length film, “Birth of a Nation,” it is really eye-opening to recognize how common and everyday the Ku Klux Klan was in 1915. Of course, this extremist group still exists in factions today, but they are much less prominent, and looked down upon by the majority of society.

    Which stage of the filmmaking process do you feel is most interesting/important? Why? Defend your answer in detail

    Post-production is the filmmaking stage that intrigues me the most. It’s crazy to think that the actual production and shooting process is a less strenuous step than what comes next. The bright spotlight on the editor in post-production is definitely a job that I would not want to have. Often times, there are small details or even fairly obvious ones in the finished product that are pointed out by observant audience members, and many of us are prone to think, “How could the editor possibly have missed that?” Yet, when you truly take a step back and appreciate the incredible responsibility that editors have, it becomes more apparent why some of these goofs occur. Also, when you think about the prominence of CGI in films today, even more difficulty is added to the work in post-production. A current example that comes to mind is the untitled fourth Avengers film set for release next May. Its initial filming wrapped a few months ago, but they are currently in the middle of reshoots, and will still be working out the details in the coming months. It will likely be a mere few weeks before its release that everything will be cleaned-up and ready for consumption.

    Which film theory do you most subscribe to at this point as you consider film criticism? Do you feel that may change as you engage in more film criticism? Why or how? Defend your answer.

    I believe that Pauline Kael’s Symphonic Film-Puzzle Theory is the most beneficial when it comes to analyzing a film as a whole. In looking to my personal experience, the majority of my favorite films are strong in all categories of production, whether it be the script, acting, casting, score, cinematography, etc. I can appreciate some of these individual elements, but in order for a film to be truly memorable for me, all of these aspects need to work together. The original trilogy of Star Wars films are probably some of my favorite movies ever, and they hold this status because of their almost perfect synchronization in the aforementioned aspects of filmmaking. The Star Wars prequel trilogy on the other hand had some strengths, including cinematography and John Williams’ score, but some of the acting was very poor, which subtracted from their overall quality. As for the other two methods of film theory (Schreiber and Auteur), I do not see myself applying these to my study of film in the future. Sure, the screenplay is an absolute key component of a film (Schreiber), and the director is the captain of the ship (Auteur), but if these are the only factors given any respect, then other critical principles of the film could be seriously neglected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      When most people think about filmmaking, they really only think about the “art” side of things -but filmmaking is one profession that combines the arts, the sciences, and the maths. Great point Thomas.

      Post-production really is fascinating, bringing the puzzle together (and even finding more missing pieces along the way) is where true stress for filmmakers can come in.

      Great thoughts about Symphonic Film-Puzzle Theory (and applying it to your favorite film franchise). as I continue to ask each of you examine the “whole” of the film -this will come in handy.



  8. noeltmanning says:

    Luke Gazak – Here is part two for my chapter 3 responses.

    1.) What I found most interesting about the timeline of film history was the fact that the first feature-length film “Birth of a Nation” was KKK propaganda. I find this interesting and disturbing at the same time. I am surprised by the topic of the movie because I wouldn’t have thought that the clansmen would be interested in film or the intricacies of it. Also, I find it interesting that of all topics or things that could have been chosen for the first feature-length film, this was the one picked. I guess it is a reflection into the past of this country and aspects of it that were unfortunately prominent, but this one caught me off guard.

    3.) The stage of filmmaking that I found to be the most important is the Developmental stage. Though it might not be the most interesting to me I feel that this is the foundation of a movie. Between finding the idea, getting enough money, and finding the right actors, locations, and directors, I think that these are all the main factors to make a good movie. Without a solid foundation for a movie I believe you can’t make a good movie, and that begins in the developmental stage. Some movies might have more than enough money and special effects and all the bells and whistles, but they end up bad movies because the right actors weren’t chosen or the story is off or even the directing was bad. It seems to me that without the developmental stage or with this stage being shown less significance, the rest of the categories will lack from that strong start and preparation.

    4.) The film theory that I most subscribed to at this time is the Symphonic-Puzzle Theory by Pauline Kael. This film theory just makes complete sense to me. A film is not any one person’s job and ultimately the success or failure rests on everyone’s shoulders who participated in making it. Films, and especially filmmaking are complex and require many things to happen especially today. With that in mind, It makes complete sense for me to understand that the success or failure of a movie is a culmination of every single participant doing their job right, or wrong. For example, In the movie “Good Will Hunting” with an excellent storyline, excellent acting, and fantastic actors, if it was all scripted by someone who was illiterate, or shot by a drunk person, the whole thing would be a flop. Of course, this is a gross exaggeration, but the point still remains that everyone had a job to do, and they did it right, making for a fantastic movie.


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