Film Studies Basics

Film Studies Basics – As a minimum a good Film Studies Essay will deal with the following:

  1. Cast & Crew (Director, Screenplay, Cinematographer, Sound Editor, Film editor & Actors and the roles they play)
  2. The Genre  – which Genre or sub genre does the film fall within? What features (codes and conventions) are evident that allows for audience or spectator definition or hypotheses with the genre?
  3. The Narrative – how is it mediated? Is it linear or non-linear? Is there a central ‘voice’- that of the narrator? What effect does this have on reception and the way the spectator interprets the film
  4. The cultural context and setting. Where is it set? When is it set? How do we know?
  5. The micro features ( Sound, Lighting, Editing, Performance, Cinematography, Mise en scene)

Sound may be a mixture of diegetic and non-diegetic sound. How is it used and what impact does it have? How does sound locate time and place. What impact does the score have in creating a narrative/ What about dialogue?

Lighting may be high key or low key. Low key lighting is dark and evokes a menacing attitude. Think of examples in the films where this has been used.

Editing: Directors make use of slow paced editing, fast paced editing, jump cuts, cross dissolves and freeze frames. Try to think of examples where these have been used to heighten the narrative or impact of the sequences.

Performance: Essentially to do with actors. What interpretation do they bring to the roles?

Cinematography: This is to do with the positioning of the camera: Overhead shots can give an ethereal feel.

Mise en Scene: this is the way the shot has been framed.

6. The impact of the film (critical and audience reaction, awards etc)


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