Film Textbook notes
Form: the overall patterning of the film, the ways its parts work together to create certain
Style: involves the films use of cinematic techniques. (The arrangement of people, places of
things, cinematography, editing, and the sound, voices, effects and music in the movie)
Art vs. entertainment??
Entertainment vs. business??
• “The collateral” was filmed using an HD camera to provide lighting that looked real and
o Electroluminescent lighting was used in this movie to give a real light look. (ELD
panels) which are the lights used in phones and watches.
o This movie fixed a mise-en-scene problem, and a new lighting option was made
for all filmmakers.
Mechanics of movies
• Movies couldn’t exist if human vision was perfect.
• Two psychological processes are involved in cinematic motion: critical flicker & apparent
o Critical flicker fusion is when the number of flashing lights used between scenes
is raised to 48 per second. Older films were 16-20 per second which is why they
used to flicker.
o Apparent motion: if a visual display is changed fast enough our eye can be
tricked into seeing movement.
• Most common shooting rate is 24 frames per second (fps) but in 35mm format the film
goes 90 feet per minute. So a two hour film consists of 2 miles of film.
• 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, and 70mm film all have different qualities of film (8 being lowest)
• Markings down the side of the film strip are read as a bar code to allow the projector to
read music ques.
• Digital cameras capture pixels, the bigger the film, the more pixels, the clearer the
o 35mm film has 4096 pixels per row, or 12.7 million pixels in total
Four main stages that movies go through
1. Scriptwriting and funding: producer is of utmost importance during this phase as well as
the screen writer.
2. Prep for filming or preproduction is when the director begins his job. The script is ready
and funding is intact. Then hiring cast and crew to begin shooting. Following the
storyboard is also extremely important in the movie (the comic book version of the
3. Shooting: director supervises the directors crew (script supervisor, assistant director,
second assistant director, third assistant director, dialogue coach, second unit director)
The cinematographer supervises his crew (camera operator, key grip who sets up
lighting and the gaffer who the head electrician) Recordist’s staff (boom operator, third
man who places microphones)
4. Assembly: postproduction phase after the shooting is finished, editing the movie
together. Special effects and sound editing during this phase as well.
Modes of production
• Large-scale production is categorized as studio filmmaking. • Exploitation, independent production and DIY filming are movies made with 100 000$ or
• Small-scale production deal with less people on the production list and generally cost
Distribution and Exhibition
• Distribution companies form the core of the filmmaking industry
• 6 worldwide distribution companies (Disney, warner brothers, universal, paramount,
Sony, and twentieth century fox and account for 95% of ticket sales in the USA.
• Exhibitors rent the movies and give the movie a screen.
• Hollywood movies cost about $80 million to produce and $40 million to distribute
• 2 types of release patterns: platforming and wide release.
• Distributors try to avoid releasing a movie on the same weekend as another blockbuster
• Filmmakers use the internet to show clips of the movie to entice people to go see it.
• Facebook is a huge advertising feature for new movies
• Theatrical exhibition involves screening to the public, nontheatrical exhibition involves
screening at festivals.
• Films in the 20’s – 50’s were meant to be viewed by large audiences and on big screens
and tv’s during those times were too small for movies to be viewed on.
• Movies didn’t always “fit to your screen”
The concept of form in film
• Film uses our senses in order to engage us.
• Our minds like to follow patterns so filmmakers tend to follow patterns throughout their
• Like all artwork film has order that it follows called “form”
• Creating expectations is key to selling a movie
• Filmmakers are able to create suspense, curiosity and surprise by changing the order of
• Common traits shown in many movies are called conventions.
• Forms also shape the emotions of the audience while they watch the film.
Referential meaning: the actual bare bones meaning behind the plot line
Explicit meaning: still fairly concrete but leaves it open to a few more interpretations
Implicit meaning: the most abstract and is completely open to interpretations.
Symptomatic meaning: abstract and general and consists of assumptions. Similar to ideology it
is open to many meanings.
Principles of Film Form
• Form is sometimes called “functions” because most elements serve a purpose in the film
• Motif is any significant repeated element that contributes to the overall form. (colour,
• Parallels cue us to compare to similar scenes or characters to one another (wizard of oz)
• Variations cue us to see the differences between characters so repetition isn’t boring.
• Development put parallels and variations together in order to create an interesting plot
(ABAC) Chapter 3
Narrative Form: a type of filmic organization in which the parts relate to one another through a
series of casually related events taking place in time and space.
• Stories can be told in many different ways, and they do not have to follow the 1-2-3 order
and can be broken up into sequences that all relate to one another
Story: is the chain of chronological events.
Plot: if decided to change the chronological order of events you are creating a new plot. As
viewers we have access to different plots, and the filmmakers decide upon the stories.
Cause and Effect
Characters are causes
• Usually humans, or things that have human entities
• In fiction as well as documentaries; characters create causes and register effects.
• Make things happen and respond to the events
• Characters have a body with a voice and traits such as attitudes, skills, habits tastes,
psychological drives and other qualities that distinguish who they are.
• Characters that embody a lot of traits we call them complex characters
• Not all movie genres have cause and effect that begin with characters. Disaster films
such as 2012, have tidal waves or earthquakes that precipitate actions to follow with the
Hiding Causes, Hiding Effects
• Always look for a connection between what has occurred and why we think it occurred.
• Casual motivation involves planting information in advanced for a scene
• Withholding information allows our minds to wander and create curiosity and suspense
• Filmmakers use narrative form to manipulate time
• Can either follow chronological order or not “order”
• Temporal duration: how long do events take? Relationship between story duration, plot
duration, and screen duration.
• Filmmakers can manipulate screen duration independently of the overall story and plot
• Plot duration selects from story duration, screen duration selects from overall plot
• Temporal frequency: how often do we see an event take place? Frequency allows us to
see the same scene played out from different perspectives, or different outcomes (run
• The location of a film is usually very important to the plot of the movie.
Openings, Closings, and Patterns of Development
• A film does not just start, it begins. The opening provides a basis for what is to come and
initiates us into the narrative
• in medias res opening brings us straight into a series of action that is already taking
place in order to grab our attention • backstory is what occurred before the movie bagan
• exposition lays out the initial situation and any given background information necessary
to the plot
• Change is essential in plot development, and often traces a common pattern called
change in knowledge which is when a character finds out information that allows them to
the final turning point in the plot.
• Goal-oriented plot is when a character takes steps in order to achieve a certain goal or
• Any plot development will encourage the viewer to make assumptions and develop
expectations as to how the plot is going to unfold.
• Surprise is when expectations are cheated and the plot twists in a way that the viewer
was unable to predict
• A film does not stop; it closes. And usually does so by finishing with a climax or high
• Its purpose is to settle issues from the plot and ease the mind of the viewer
Narration: The flow of Story information
• Filmmakers decide how viewers will receive info, when they will get it, and how they are
going to deliver the information. They shape the way that the plot unfolds and create the
viewer’s movie experience.
Chapter 4 ~ Mise-en-Scene BT: 112-59 (Ch. 4)
The shot: Mise-en-Scene (meez-ahn-sen)
Shot viewers notice most
Creative choices in a shot, certain techniques: setting, costume, lighting and performance
Means “putting into the scene”, first applied to the practice of directing plays
In film the term is used to signify the directors control over what appears in the film frame
Setting, lighting, costume makeup, stage performance
Usually involves advance planning
Power of Mise-en-scene:
Used to achieve realism, gives setting an a