Produce, Direct, Shoot and Edit a 4 – 7 minute fiction (narrative) short film with at least one character and location. Your film should combine at least two of these elements of cinematic storytelling:
- Action – The movement of the character (s) flows from one shot into the next. Fast editing and a variety of angles and camera movements establish the pace of the sequence. A mix of close up shots keep the audience close to the action, while wide shots establish location.
- Dialog – Cut from one character to the next as they talk and react. This “shot – reaction shot” editing can be used to show one person looking intently at an object as well (i.e. staring at a donut they desire)
- Cross-Cutting – Two stories are occurring at the same time in different places. Cut between them.
- Flashback – A character in the present flashes back to something in the past. It can be just a few shots or glimpses, or a full scene. Another version of this is a “flash forward,” which could be a character daydreaming about what could be.
- Voiceover Narration – We see the world from a characters point of view and hear their “inner monologue” as they comment on the world or tell their story. They can be commenting on what is happening right then, or their past. They are speaking directly to the audience. Or, the Narrator can be omniscient and anonymous – a commentator taking us through the story.
Locations: You can shoot this assignment on campus, or take a camera for the weekend and shoot it off campus.
Actors: Your actors can be students in our class or students from outside the class.
To produce your film, do the following:
- Get together with one or two other students in the class to form a crew.
- Brainstorm ideas.
- Type a one paragraph “summary” or “synopsis.”
- Type a “step outline.” This is just a numbered list of what happens in your film. Be as detailed as possible–don’t leave out any plot points.
- Draw a storyboard. It should contain every shot you can think of. (Scroll down to the “Action Sequence” assignment below for the storyboard form. You can print and use this form.)
- Give your film a title.
- Type a “Pre-Production Packet” that contains:
- The pieces you’ve already completed–your summary, step outline, and storyboard.
- A crew list. You are strongly advised to share contact information with your fellow crew members so you can communicate about this project outside of class.
- A list of main characters, with a one-sentance description of each. (it may be just one character). Who will you cast in these roles?
- A list of locations. Where are you shooting?
- A list of props (items) and costumes you will need for your film.
- A list of equipment you will need to shoot your movie.
- A production schedule. Do you plan to shoot in class? What days? Outside of class? How long will it take? Look at a calendar with your crew to come up with a shooting schedule. Refer to my Calendar for Video Production I on this website to see the Short Film deadlines.
Film Clip Analysis Exercise. You can get help here at the Yale film analysis website
EXAMPLE OF THE COMPLETED ASSIGNMENT (IGNORE PART THREE.)
Choose a coherent sequence totally from 8-12 shots from any one of the films we have seen in class thus far (and only those films). You may choose to discuss any self-contained part of the film (a scene or sequence) as a clip except for those parts we have already discussed in class. If we have looked at a scene or sequence in class and talked about it, in other words, don't do your exercise on it.
You must capture a image from a DVD or web browser or web-player of each shot and insert the capture into your word document. I require screen captures because they actually help you "read" the film as well as give your reader more information. It's like writing about a poem having the poem in front of you so you may quote from it versus having the poem only from memory.
You'll need a computer that streams the film or has a DVD player or media player that plays DVDs.
You can download a free Mac player here. (I use it.)
This exercise should take you around 4-6 hours to do.
The Film ClipAnalysis Exercise is in two parts. (A) Description; (B) Shot by Shot Analysis and Annotation. For an example of the format, click here. (Please ignore part three)
Both parts must be completed for you to receive credit.
Part One. Brief Description of Film Clip
FORMATTING: Use a table with columns and rows headed with a series of five categories including (1) the shot number, (2) the time stamps for when the shot begins and ends, (3) the length of the shot (how long it lasts), (4) an exhaustive description of the shot, and (5) an annotation (comment, explanation, information) on the shot. For an example of the format, click here.
Write your name on your paper at the top. Now that you have chosen a film clip from one of the films we have viewed thus far, write down name the film, and describe the clip briefly (a few sentences). Please the give the time stamps for your shots your clip begins and the time it ends. On a DVD, web browser, or media player, you'll see the time stamp for the hour, minute, and second.
Part Two. Analysis / Exhaustive Shot by Shot Description and Annotation
Give the following information ABOUT EACH SHOT. (Don't just give the name of the shot--as in long shot, close up, etc.) If you don't know what a shot is, you are probably in the wrong class. In any case,
OK. WHAT IS A SHOT? Here is the definition provided on the Yale film analysis website http://filmanalysis.yctl.org:
A single stream of images, uninterrupted by editing. The shot can use a static or a mobile framing, a standard or a non-standard frame rate, but it must be continuous. The shot is one of the basic units of cinema yet has always been subject to manipulation, for example stop-motion cinematography or superimposition. In contemporary cinema, with the use of computer graphics and sequences built-up from a series of still frames (eg. Mannequin Challenge), the boundaries of the shot are increasingly being challenged.
HERE is what you need to do:
In the description column, describe in detail the kind of shot--extreme close up, close up, medium, long, p.o.v.); camera movement, stationary, pan, tilt, whip pan, dolly in, dolly out, crane, tracking; camera angle--high, low, canted or Dutch, straight on, overhead, from below; sound--ambient, diegetic; extra-diegetic, kind of music, if any; voice-offs and voice-overs; editing--transition from one shot to another (dissolve, fade, wipe, cut, cut in, and so on); super-imposition; sequence--linear, montage, flashback; mise-en-scène; framing and reveals--what is in hte shot and what is not; lighting--source, contrast; blocking; camera focus--racking, spot, soft, or deep; length of take, and so on and so on.
Describe sound track: DON"T FORGET ABOUT SOUND!
In the annotations column, comment critically on how the shot is working, what it is doing. Don't summarize the plot or quote dialogue.
Note: Both parts of the final project must be completed for you and turned in on time to receive credit. All parts of the course must be completed and turned in on time to pass the course.