Course Description & Expectations

Course Description/Objectives:


Comm 400TZ – The Film Critic: This class will explore the power of filmmaking and the evaluation and appreciation of film through different genres (Drama, Comedy, Family, Thriller, biopic, etc.) critical approaches. Through online interviews with film critics and filmmakers, face-to-face dialogue, outside film viewing, assigned readings, online engagement activities, written assignments, weekly postings and creative projects – we will discover the art of film by examining scriptwriting, visual techniques, acting, musical score, special effects, and more. Through this course, we will also get a closer look at why all films have individual interpretations. Our perspectives are unique and different, and that will impact each person’s film analysis.

This class also hopes to give students a better understanding and appreciation for the director’s intention and target audience.

In a nutshell:  In this course, students will work towards mastering the fundamental aesthetic and technical tools needed in understanding and evaluating filmmaking (acting and character, directing, camera, sound, story structure, editing, etc.) in the context of individual filmic style and taste.

The course has three main components – evaluation lab (outside film viewings), dialogue seminar (online and face-to-face), and evaluation workshops (applied written and oral reviews, evaluations and presentations). We will view films that represent the select genres and topics of our film dialogue, and conduct regular online-discussion, outside reading, research, written and verbal evaluation.o-ALMOST-FAMOUS-facebook

  • Class Expectations: Students must attend at least 75% of scheduled meetings to receive credit for the course. Students must complete all written assignments, online postings, and other projects at scheduled times. Failure to do so will reflect on student’s grade (-10 points for each day late. The next day begins one minute after the announced deadline). All work that is turned in must be your own. You cannot afford to take unethical shortcuts in this class. The Gardner-Webb Writing Center can also help guide you through common mistakes that are officially classified as plagiarism.  
  • Format of written assignments: Unless otherwise specified, all assignments must be printed and submitted on unlined paper (standard copy/printer paper), emailed to me, or posted on the your approved blog (instructions will be given for each assignment). The nature of the assignment will dictate the line-spacing, required font sizes, scholarly writing style and other format features. Students are to turn in all assignments in the specified format. No handwritten papers will be accepted unless discussed and approved beforehand.
      • Communication with the class & resources: Check your Gardner-Webb email and the GWU Film Critic Website each week. I will use these avenues to post readings, assignments, dialogue topics, links, lectures, podcasts, and videos. Here is that site link


  • Grading Scale:

A+ = 100 – 97, A = 93-96, A- = 92 – 90

B+ = 89 – 87, B = 86 – 83, B – = 82 – 80

C+ = 79 – 77, C = 76 – 73, C- = 72 -70

D+ = 69 – 67, D = 66 – 63, D – = 62 – 60

F = 60 – 0


  • Grading Distribution

30% – Weekly Online Engagement/Posts (in-class dialogue)

40% – Films Reviews & Weekly Assignments

30% – Semester Project



Grading Evaluations: There will be required weekly online dialogue posts, film evaluations/reviews, and a semester film character evaluation project. There will be several grading opportunities this semester for each student.

A reminder: Your work should be your own: It is crucial that any work you turn in is your own original work unless otherwise cited. Unethical shortcuts can cost you a failing grade in this class. If you are unsure that you’re turning in original work (or properly cited work) ask me.

Incompletes: Incompletes will only be given with a written agreement between the student and the instructor. These will only be given in extraordinary circumstances.

Extra Credit: Options are available for extra credit upon approval. Please contact me if you’re interested in extra credit opportunities. The last day to turn in items for possible extra credit will be the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break.  There are several featured events outside of class time for extra credit opportunities. More may be added to the list below:

Nosferatu: A Dark Brew
Friday, October 26, 2018SP_2018_Espresso-Series-Posters_For-Web_v1.indd
6:30 PM 8:30 PM
Chapman Cultural Center  – Spartanburg, SC
Experience the glory days of silent film with this 1922 horror classic and the excitement and surprise of musical interpretation (with live music).

Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader
Monday, October 15, 2018
6:30 PM 8:30 PM
Tucker Student Center, Gardner-Webb
Film and panel discussion of the North Carolina documentary “Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader.” Join Gardner-Webb University, Wildacres Leadership Initiative, and filmmaker Anna Jones as she shares her inspiring and award-winning film about leadership, faith, untold stories of success in the rural South, and the amazing work of her father — a black farmer with a 7th grade education — who incredibly became the first black North Carolina school board chairman.

Heroes & Villains: Music from Hollywood Films
Saturday, November 10, 2018SP_2018_Classic-Series-Posters_For-Web_v1-2-POP-HeroVillian
7:00 PM 9:00 PM
Twichell Auditorium, 580 East Main Street Spartanburg, SC

This musical journey brings your favorite heroes and villains to life through scores of adventure, tragedy, and romance in one unforgettable evening. Featured films/characters include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles, James Bond, Godzilla, Saving Private Ryan and more.

Gardner-Webb Class Competencies:

  1. Students will develop skills in formulating well-organized thoughts for the purpose game-of-thrones-s3-tyrion-peter-dinklage-1200of effective communication.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze written, oral, or visual forms of communication and create appropriate responses.
  3. Students will compare and contrast intra- and intercultural realities to cultivate attributes necessary for adapting to and functioning in a globalized world.
  4. Students will develop skills in effective research using traditional and technology- based research methods.


GWU Writing Center, Tucker Student Center – www.gardner- – The Writing Center is a resource for all students, regardless of major or level of study. Writing Center consultants are fellow students who have a solid grasp of the English language and enjoy assisting others. They will help you with developing and revising your ideas as well as polishing your final draft. You can make an appointment for a consultation or walk in to see if there’s an available consultant. Visit the Writing Center website each semester for important information, like hours of operation. Phone: (704) 406-4393

Learning Enrichment and Assistance Program (LEAP) –  offers peer tutoring services supporting academic work in undergraduate courses. LEAP peer tutoring provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to schedule an individual tutoring appointment with a peer tutor who has previously excelled, or is currently excelling, in the requested course. To request peer tutor information, please email or call (704) 406-4562.


The Noel Center for Disability Resources – If you feel that your learning or participation in this class (either in a seated or an online environment) might be impacted in anyway by a disability, disease or disorder, you should reach out the Noel Center for guidance:

Register with the Noel Center for Disability Resources (704.406.4270) 866-298-0119 (vp), or via email at

Notify me as soon as possible preferably within the first week so I can work with you individually and with the Noel Center to arrange necessary accommodations.

These accommodations and services include, but are not limited to, notetakers, extended testing time, materials in alternative format, lab assistants, interpreters, orientation and mobility, assistive technology and software, and testing accommodations.



*This course description is available in an alternate format upon request

A PDF is available here:film critic course overview fall 2018