How to Write a Film Journal JC Clapp – HUM 110: Intro to Film Your Film Journal is a written record of your process of viewing each film. Keeping a film journal will allow you to develop your analytical skills and help you to remember each film longer so it is easier for you to write your formal essays. In a nutshell, your film journal needs to: 1. Identify the technical elements at work in ONE scene of the film. 2. Explain how the director put together the scene and the effect those filmmaking choices have on the viewer. Make sure you’re up on your reading. You’ll be looking for the technical elements that we’ve been learning about. In order to fully analyze a scene from the film, you need to watch the film carefully and write in your film journal soon after. Keep a notebook with you while you watch the film and write down notes so that you remember what you want to include in your journal. Since you’ll be watching the films at home, you’ll be able to review certain scenes over and over, as necessary. In essence, your journal entries will be scene analysis papers – so look in our Film: A Critical Introduction textbook under “The Scene Analysis” on pages 35-39 for details on how to write this type of film analysis. What your Film Journal MUST include: A careful and thorough analysis of one scene (and ONLY ONE) in the film. To do this, consider: Take one scene you feel is crucial to the film and focus very closely on the way the director constructed it. Look at HOW the scene is put together and the effects that those directorial choices have on the viewer. Use the technical language of film (camera angles, shots, sound, editing, etc.) and point to specific aspects or details of the scene that are meaningful. Don’t just list the elements – explain how and why these elements are important. Try to focus on the elements that we’re studying in the book that week. For example, the week we read the chapter on sound, you might want to look at how sound is used in the assigned films. Your journal is one way of showing me that you’re understanding the concepts we’re learning. Discuss the role or importance of the scene and the way it was shot to the rest of the film – beyond its importance to the plot. Look at how the scene introduces or develops an idea or theme you see in the film as a whole. End the journal entry for each film with at least two open-ended questions that you can use in your discussion group. What your Film Journal should NOT include: a plot summary (don’t tell us what happens in the film – at all.) a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” review (don’t tell us whether or not you liked the film – at all) – whether or not you liked it is irrelevant to an analysis a biography of the director or actors a synopsis of what the director/actors say in the “Director’s Cut” of the film the use of any research (everything in your journal should be your own analysis, not analysis you’ve read from research sources) Film Journal Requirements: A minimum of 500 words (about 1 ½ pages double spaced) for each assigned film. The maximum length is 5 pages per film. Each film journal entry should begin with a heading/title that includes the name of the film and the name of the director, for easy reference. Please use 12 pt. font and 1 inch margins. Please put the film journal entries in the order the films were assigned, for easy reference. Put all of the entries into ONE file to upload to JC. Only turn in the journal entries that are due at that time. So, for Journal #2, don’t turn in all of Journal #1 again. Please read the sample journal to get an idea of what a strong journal entry looks like! Grading Criteria: I will be looking for these elements when I grade your journal: A minimum of 500 words (about 1 ½ pages) for each assigned film. Each film journal entry begins with a heading/title that includes the name of the film and the name of the director. Journal written in 12 pt. font, double spaced, and has 1 inch margins. Journal carefully and methodically takes apart ONE (and only one) scene and discusses how the way the scene was put together effects the viewer. Student uses the technical language of film (camera angles, shots, sound, editing, etc.) to dissect the scene. Journal contains at least two open-ended questions for each film. Journal does not summarize the plot whatsoever. Journal does not contain response, critique, review, evaluation, or reaction – instead it stays totally focused on analysis. Journal does not borrow ideas or words from any other source – it’s all the student’s own thoughts and ideas.
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