Film Analysis Project: Guidelines

For this project you’ll be assigned a group. Each group will discuss a film.

Your task is to very thoughtfully choose a scene from your film that not only lends itself to a thorough formal analysis, but relates in undeniably meaningful ways to the major themes of the film as a whole.

The scene you pick should not be longer than 3 or 4 minutes. You’ll then have 15 minutes to explicate the scene to your audience.

Here’s how to begin:

1. Review the film readings. Consult the Yale Film Analysis Guide. This is important.

2. Screen your film alone. Take notes. Choose a scene that meets the criteria above.

3. Screen the film a second time with your group. This is a requirement, not a recommendation. Take notes. Everyone should already have an idea, from completing step 1, of which scene they think best meets this assignment’s requirements. Talk it out. Work toward some consensus. The conversation you have is one of the most important parts of the assignment. This kind of intellectual give and take is supposed to be pleasurable and invigorating; it’s one of the best parts of being a college student.

4. Decide on your group’s scene. The decision isn’t made until everyone expresses an opinion.

5. Now write a formal analysis (800 words min.). Each person, individually, should deconstruct the scene using the key concepts of film studies. Remember the four major categories: Mise-en-scene, camera work, editing, sound.  While you don’t necessarily need to undertake a shot-by-shot analysis (though you’re welcome to do so) you should note the time signature of the shots you do discuss. How do the scene’s formal choices emphasize its dramatic content? What and how does the scene signify?

6. Upload your analysis to ilearn. Give it a real title.

7. Meet once more with your group to rehearse your presentation. This is very important. Make sure you can meet the time constraint.

8. Each group is responsible for their media technology. I’ll provide the projector, you provide the rest. The absolutely easiest way to screen a clip is by using a dvd. Hands down. You don’t need to worry about vga cables or a patchy wireless connection. I very strongly recommend that you use a dvd. You’ll only have about 15 minutes to complete your presentation. This includes any time that might be lost due to technical difficulties.