Hello Film Crew,
Thanks for all your engagement last week as we continue to explore important aspects of understanding film narrative. This week, for the second half of Chapter one, you will need to manage your time carefully. There will be multiple readings, videos and interviews to engage. It will take you more time this week to navigate as we wrap up our chapter on the important foundations of story, character and conflict.
Before we dive into notes and links for this week’s lesson, I wanted to update (and remind) you on a few items:
- After feedback from the class, I’ve decided to use our Film Critics website (https://thefilmcritic.blog) for our dialogue/engagement response posts. I would suggest creating your responses (and even your personal film essays) in a word doc, that way you have a backup in case you lose an internet signal or have technical glitches. If technical issues do occur, you can always email me responses in a text or PDF file.
- If you’re having any general WordPress issues, I encourage you to check out the Help Forum (https://en.forums.wordpress.com/), these teaching tools (https://wordpress.com/), or these WordPress intro tips – here’s a link (https://www.wpexplorer.com/easy-tips-wordpress-beginners/).
- I ask that you put your name on each post (response/dialogue and your personal film journal blog); follow instructions for each assignment, and review your assignments for spelling and grammatical errors as well. I will be looking for that, and will grade accordingly in the future.
- Response/Dialogue Posts – You should consider spending more time defending your thoughts and offering examples (especially if you mention someone else’s comments).You will also need to add original ideas or expand on thoughts that may already be posted for these assignments. Your dialogue grades could be impacted by lack of critical thought and engagement with these responses.
- I will try to email you reminders of due dates and general assignments each week. But you will always find the updated calendar/schedule at the top of our Film Critic website or here: blog/2019/01/23/film-critics-schedule/.
- Reminder – Late work (-10 points each day late -this also applies to response posts). Last week I offered some fluidity to this (since we were just getting started).
Reminders of upcoming assignments:
Feb. 15 – I have posted several readings & videos in the second part of chapter 1; as mentioned earlier, this will take you much more time to engage this week, so I encourage you to manage your time appropriately.
- There are videos on exploring Universal themes and life lessons, character conflict, The Hero’s Journey, Writers on film, and Beeban Kidron talks about the shared wonder of film (and narrative).
Other topics include Gustav Freytag, Blake Snyder, Film Critics Talk Baggage, six supportive steps to reviewing film, more details on the importance of the “script.” There is a link to a posted article on “why the screenplay is so important” – you should read that and watch (or listen to) two of three interviews with the featured screenwriters. I have four choices: Aaron Sorkin (one of my favorite writers), Emma Thompson, Kelly Fremon Craig or Ami Fuller Brown. There is a response question to this component of the chapter as well.
I believe that hearing from filmmakers themselves will make this material come alive, and you can gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the art and science of filmmaking and film critique.
Due Feb. 17 – Assignment: Interview someone over 5o+ Years Old and write a 500-700 word report/story capturing his/her movie history (there are three examples linked at the bottom of the assignment). Post to your blog, and email me and/or post your link on the assignment page. *Due Feb. 17 by 11:59 pm.
- Semester Projects: If you haven’t locked in your semester project with me, you should propose three options by Feb. 11. Those films already reserved will be posted in the announcement section of our Bb class page.
- As you move forward in future lessons, you’ll be asked to revisit (and apply) your understanding of character, story, and inciting incident. So, you should review that as needed.
Questions for consideration as we move forward:
- Baggage and bias … is it easier to evaluate a film you think you’ll like, think you’ll hate, or have no opinion either way?
- Story – Why does it matter? Why is it important for our understanding in film? Characters – how do they grow or change? Conflict should always shape the character, and the greater the conflict – the more incredible the change.
This week you’ll get a closer look at:
- Gustav Freytag – He was a German novelist from the Nineteenth century who explored formulas in stories and novels, and he found that “like patterns” (or formulas) existed in most of them. There is reading for you this week. You’ll need to use this as a guide, because there may be a question to address in an upcoming film evaluation relating to Freytag’s story pyramid formula.
- Another person to be familiar with is Blake Snyder. Snyder was a brilliant screenwriter, script doctor, and resource for screenplay research. He, like Freytag, explored story formulas, but he believed that one could narrow down every film/ or story ever created into a limited number of main story-categories. He examined “genres” differently than we typically think of film genres today. There is a reading you’ll need to take a look at this week addressing in detail his formulas. You may have to address a question relating to this as well in forthcoming weeks. You’ll also have to apply one of these formulas to your semester project. I think you may be fascinated by how many films (regardless of classifications like comedy, drama, horror, action) actually share the same story-formula.
- You will find two sections exploring the Hero’s Journey. Each will provide guiding elements for you as you evaluate and apply research to your semester project (and other films this semester). You will also need to gain an understanding of the videos within those sections.
- There is an extended section in this chapter on “The Screenplay” with filmmaker interviews you’ll need to engage in as well. You will need to listen to, watch, or read two of the four interview subjects.
- You should also check out the sections: Reviewing Films – Six First Steps, and the Film Community Responds to Baggage.
- You will have a response/dialogue post that will cover many of these topics, and that should be completed by Feb. 15.
As always, you are welcome to email me with questions, comments and ideas.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week.
For now, that’s a wrap,
Noel T. Manning II