“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” – Henry Luce

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Film studies -Basic


                              I.            Literature of Cinema

                          II.            Film Techniques-Cinematography

                       III.            Components of film
                       IV.            Film Genres
                          V.            Narrative Point of View
                       VI.            Narrative Techniques
                   VII.            What is a short film?
                VIII.            Documentary Films

Assignments and Seminar

                       IX.            Film directors
                           X.            Academy award winning movies
                       XI.            Film history
                    XII.            Tamil directors
                XIII.            Indian legend directors
                XIV.            World movie directors

Literature of Cinema

 Cinema have a literature as other forms of arts. The language of cinema that consists of image and sound. It is a completely distinct language. The style of cinema is unique and exclusive.

An image can speak.  Every image like a sentence and the sum total of all image is the final message of a film. Sound complements image. One has no meaning without others. If a scene does not have any sound even its absence can convey a special meaning. Silence itself becomes its message. Even in the silent era images carries meanings. Their language was not dependent on dialogue.  The images and sounds have been recorded with the help of camera and sound recording machine.

Film making can be divided into three phases.

1.    the screen play
2.    selecting appropriate location and shooting
3.    editing. 

1. The first is writing the screen play. The screen play is the basic structure of a film. It describes in words what on the screen is expressed through image and sound. It is this structure of a movie to make a film come alive and give it a cohesive form.

2. The second phase involves either selecting appropriate location based on the screen play or building a set getting together enough actors to play the characters as described in the scenario and shooting the whole process.

3. In the third phase is called

A scene is broken into different parts and various parts are then shown from different angles. Each individual part of a scene is called as shot.  This system of breaking up a scene is unique to cinema. It is based on an artistic purpose as well as linguistic merit.  The style adapted in a film is depended by story itself and the views and attitudes of the director.

Screen Play

The Learning how to make the script is very important to having a good film.
          Filmmakers must have a knowledge or an idea about how to get started, also  how to complete the script, or even how adapt the script to their particular needs and learn how to make biggest impact on the script.  It is essential to know that a good script must ensure a huge success in their project.  A film script is a linear structure that is made up of many parts: Action, characters, music, visual imagery etc. All of the parts make up the whole.

   A film script is divided into three parts:

Beginning -Act one                                       
Middle -Act two                                     
End- Act three

Beginning -Act one
          In this section we establish the dramatic context known as the set up .The three unities of dramatic action: time, place and action. Each has to be defined in act one. 

          The general rule of thumb, one page of script equals one minute of screen time. We set up the story with 30 pages, the characters, the dramatic premise, the situation (circumstances surrounding the action) and establish the relationship between the main character and the rest of the world he lives in.  The first 10 minutes is critical because we have to capture the audience and focus on establishing the main character, the dramatic premise and the dramatic situation.

Middle- Act two
          This section comprises approximately half of the script length.  That would be about 60 pages.  It is held together with a dramatic context of confrontation. During this act, the main Character encounters obstacle after that keeps him or her from achieving their dramatic need.  Dramatic need means, what the main character wants to win, gain, get or achieve during the screenplay.  We must know the dramatic need so that we can create obstacles, which creates confrontation or Conflict .
 Setup confrontation  specifies What drives the character forward through the action? What does he or she want? What are his or her needs?

End-Act three
          Resolution in a Screenplay is a solution to the conflict that allows the main character to achieve their need (happy ending) or fail (sad Ending).  The ‘act three’ of our script should be 3-5 pages in length, depending on the anticipated length of our film.

         Endings and beginnings are inexplicitly tied together like yin and Yang. They cannot exist without each other. So it is with film, we need to create the momentum for the life that will exist after the film is over. Start our film with action. Or reveal something that the audience needs to know to understand the story. Remember that it is a Visual telling of a story. Connect the two ends of the film that beginning and end.

Components  of Film script structure

The structure of a film script is composed of three components:
 Shot- each time the camera is triggered until it is stopped, that is a shot. The length does not matter. A movie is composed of hundreds of shots.
 Scene- a collections of shots that are related by subject. Scenes are often established by location or time.
 Sequence- a series of scenes that are related by thematic structure, a single idea. For example,  the events leading up to a shift in the film.  It is a unit, a block of dramatic action unified by that idea.

Components of film

Three basic components of film: 

  •  Image 
  •  Movement 
  •  Sound 
Framing is as important for still photography  for film, since it works with mise-en-scène to determine the overall composition of the image. 

Mise-en-scène and Framing 

The two main things to pay attention to in a filmic image are mise-en-scène and framing. Mise-en-scène is a French term meaning literally “put in the scene,” and it was originally adapted from the theater. It refers to everything that goes into a film before it is photographed, including set dressing or location, costumes, lighting, actors, blocking (actor locations and movement), and dialogue. 

Camera Movement

Film is a series of photographs shown in succession at a rate of 24 frames per second to create the illusion of movement. This section offers suggestions for how to talk about a moving image. There are two main types of movement in film: 

Continuous and Discontinuous.
Continuous movement involves characters and objects moving within the frame, either as a result of their movement or of the camera’s.  The Discontinuous movement is a result of editing, in which two discontinuous bits of film are joined together by cuts such as dissolves, wipes, etc.


Film sound is as important as pictures. We should pay as much attention to sound as we do to the images. Use sound to help show where and when the film is set, draw attention to important things, create an atmosphere or set a mood, depict a character. Get the sound levels right. Very loud sound can distort; very quiet sound can have ‘hiss’. Sound can be classifies as

Sound effects 

 Camera Movement

Moving the camera lens to one side or another. Look to your left, then look to your right - that's panning.   Panning is used to give the viewer a panoramic view of a set or setting. This can be used to establish a scene.

Moving the cameras lens up or down while keeping its horizontal axis constant. Nod your head up and down - this is tilting.
Zooming  involves changing the focal length of the lens to make the subject appear closer or further away in the frame. Zooming is one of the most frequently-used camera moves and one of the most overused.  Most video cameras today have built-in zoom features. Some have manual zooms as well, and many have several zoom speeds. 
Moving the camera up or down without changing its vertical or horizontal axis. A camera operator can do two types of pedestals: pedestal up means "move the camera up;" pedestal down means "move the camera down." 
The name comes from the old "dolly tracks" that used to be laid down for the heavy camera to move along - very much like railroad tracks . The phrase dolly-in means step towards the subject with the camera, while dolly-out means to step backwards with the camera, keeping the zoom the same. 

Trucking is like dollying, but it involves motion left or right. Truck left means "move the camera physically to the left while maintaining its perpendicular relationship." By using a tracking shot or a dolly shot the composer of a film gives the viewer a detailed tour of a situation. It can also be used to follow a character

Handheld Shooting: 
Sometimes the action is moving too quickly or too unpredictably for the camera to be on a tripod. This calls for making the camera more mobile and able to follow the action of a scene. Most times the camera will simply be held by the operator, who will then employ a number of basic camera moves by moving the feet - trucking in and out, dollying in one direction or another, tilting, panning, zooming - and combinations of all of these.

Floating Cam or Stabilizing Shot: 
The Steadicam was invented in 1971 by Philadelphia native Garrett Brown. 
Crane/ Jib: 
         A crane can be used to lift a camera  from low to high shooting positions. Less expensive jibs can support the weight of a camera and lift it several feet off of the ground. Sometimes called a boom, but the boom term usually applies to the device that holds a microphone a loftA crane shot is often used by composers of films to signify the end of a film or scene. The effect is achieved by the camera being put on a crane that can move upwards


Film editing is a creative and technical part of the post-production process of film making.  The film editor must know how to tell a story, working with the director, the film editor shaped the scene into its final form. After hours and hours of reviewing the unedited film, he created scene. When we see the finished scene, all of the sounds and images work together. They appear to have taken place at one time and in one place. That is the magic of film editing.

Cuts and Transitions: Assembling the Scene
Editors select sounds and images from all the film that has been shot and arrange them to make the movie. They also plan how one shot will best transition to the next.  Editing often begins as soon as film has been shot. Dissolve was used for capture the time difference between this shot and the next shot. In dissolve one image fade out gradually and another takes its place. If the camera moves from one shot to another directly without fading out that technique is called cut. The execution of a dissolve naturally takes a little longer than a cut.
The first cut of a film, called a "rough cut," takes up to three months to complete. The final cut may take another month to finish. Sometimes the editor works alone, sometimes with the director. The sound designer and music composer join them for the final cut, adding sound effects and the musical score. When the editing is complete and the director and producer have approved the final version of the film, this final cut is sent to a negative matcher. 

       Today most editors use computers or nonlinear digital editing systems to compile a film. This is more efficient, but for the most part, the process is the same. Dissolve was used for capture the time difference between this shot and the next shot. In dissolve one image fade out gradually and another takes its place.

If the camera moves from one shot to another directly without fading out that technique is called cut. The execution of a dissolve naturally takes a little longer than a cut.

Film Techniques-Cinematography

          Film techniques is the term used to describe the ways that meaning is created in film.

Camera Shots

A camera shot is the amount of space that is seen in one shot or frame. Camera shots are used to demonstrate different aspects of a film's setting, characters and themes. As a result, camera shots are very important in shaping meaning in a film. 


An extreme long shot contains a large amount of landscape. It is often used at the beginning of a scene or a film to establish general location(setting). This is also known as an establishing shot.


A long shot contains landscape but gives the viewer a more specific idea of setting. A long shot may show the viewers the building where the action will take place.


A full shot contains a complete view of the characters. From this shot, viewers can take in the costumes of characters and may also help to demonstrate the relationships between characters.   A full shot displays the character from head to toe, without showing much of his surroundings.  A full shot distances the character from the viewer both physically and psychologically. They carry less emotional weight, and therefore they are not the best choice during emotive scenes.

A mid shot contains the characters or a character from the waist up. From this shot, viewers can see the characters' faces more clearly as well as their interaction with other characters. This is also known as a social shot.


Medium shots are the most common types of shots in the movies. The medium shot also encompasses two other famous shot types: The two-shot, with two actors facing the same screen direction, and the over-the-shoulder, showing a conversation in which the actors sit or stand across from each other. To record medium shots, a normal lens will suffice.

A close-up contains just one character's face. This enables viewers to understand the actor's emotions and also allows them to feel empathy for the character. In close-up shots, the subject dominates most of the frame, allowing very little observation on the locale of the scene. Close-ups are much more dramatic than long or medium shots. They are preferred when conveying someone’s emotion: This is also known as a personal shot.


An extreme close-up contains one part of a character's face or other object. This technique is quite common in horror films, particularly the example above. This type of shot creates an intense mood and provides interaction between the audience and the viewer. For close-ups and extreme close-ups, telephoto lens are more appropriate


Insert shots. Insert shots are tight shots in which objects fill most of the frame. Even if inserts don’t reveal anything new, they are still welcome during the editing phase, as they smooth transitions between shots, often serving as a neutral shot that allows a breach of the 180-degree rule.


Camera angles

Difference between Camera shots and angles?

Camera shots are used to demonstrate different aspects of setting, themes and characters.

Camera angles are used to position the viewer so that they can understand the relationships between the characters. These are very important for shaping meaning in film as well as in other visual texts.


A bird's eye angle  is an angle that looks directly down upon a scene. This angle is often used as an establishing angle, along with an extreme long shot, to establish setting.


A high angle is a camera angle that looks down upon a subject. A character shot with a high angle will look vulnerable or small. These angles are often used to demonstrate to the audience a perspective of a particular character. The example above demonstrates to us the perspective or point of view of a vampire/politician/owner. As a viewer we can understand that the vampire feels powerful.

An eye-level angle puts the audience on an equal footing with the character/s. This is the most commonly used angle in most films as it allows the viewers to feel comfortable with the characters.


A low angle is a camera angle that looks up at a character. This is the opposite of a high angle and makes a character look more powerful. This can make the audience feel vulnerable and small by looking up at the character. This can help the responder feel empathy if they are viewing the frame from another character's 


A Dutch angle is used to demonstrate the confusion of a character. The example should confuse you.


An Evangelion shot  camera movement begins as an extreme close-up and zooms out abruptly, creating a blurring effect to emphasize the speed and size of the object


Lighting is a very important aspect for shaping meaning in films. A room that is brightly lit by neon lights might seem to be sterile or a shadowy room might be weird or scary. The lighting technicians in a film crew have the task of creating lighting to suit the mood and atmosphere of each scene in a film.

For instance, in Example Three the two people are very happy and the scene is lit brightly.


Cinematography is the combination of the techniques includes camera shots, camera angles, camera movement and lighting.

Mise en Scene

Mise en scene refers to all the objects and characters in a particular frame. More specifically, it refers to the composition of the frame, discussing where the composer or director has placed all the elements of the scene within the frame.

Film Genres

In film theory, genre  refers to the method based on similarities in the narrative elements from which films are constructed. Films were not really subjected to genre analysis by film historians until the 1970s. All films have at least one major genre, although there are a number of films that are considered crossbreeds or hybrids with three or four overlapping genre .

Film genres can be categorized in several ways. They are 
1.    The  environment or setting where the story and action takes place, 
2.    The theme or topic refers to the issues or concepts that the film revolves around. 
3.    The mood is the emotional tone of the film. 
4.    The Format refers to the way the film was shot or the manner of presentation (e.g.: 35 mm,16 mm or 8 mm).  and 
5.    The target audience. 

Listed below are some of the most common and identifiable film genre categories, / type or category.

Action films 
Action films usually include high energy, big-budget physical stunts and chases, possibly with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, destructive crises floods, explosions, natural disasters, fires, etc., non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous, often two-dimensional 'good-guy' heroes or  heroines battling 'bad guys' - all designed for pure audience escapism. Includes the James Bond 'fantasy', martial arts films, and some superhero films. A major sub-genre is the disaster film.
Adventure films
Adventure films are usually exciting stories, with new experiences or exotic locales, very similar to or often paired with the action film genre. They can include traditional pirates, serialized films, and historical spectacles /the epics film genre), searches or expeditions for lost continents, "jungle" and "desert" epics, treasure hunts, disaster films, or searches for the unknown.


Thriller and suspense films are  types of films known to promote intense excitement, suspense, a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension. The acclaimed Master of Suspense is Alfred Hitchcock. Spy films may be considered a type of thriller/suspense film.

Dramatic films
Dramatic films are probably the largest film genre, with many subsets.  melodramas, epics ,historical dramas, or romantic genres. Dramas are serious, plot-driven presentations, portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and stories involving intense character development and interaction.

Horror films
 Horror films feature a wide range of styles, from  CGI monsters to deranged humans. They are often combined with 
science fiction, or when Earth is threatened by aliens. The fantasy and supernatural film genres are not usually synonymous with the horror genre. There are many sub-genres of horror: teen terror, serial killers, Satanic, etc. Horror films are designed to frighten and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a purifying experience.

Crime (gangster)

Crime (gangster) films are developed around the sinister actions of criminals or mobsters, particularly bank robbers, underworld figures, or ruthless hood who operate outside the law, stealing and murdering their way through life.  This category includes a description of various 'serial killer' films.


Comedies are light-hearted plots consistently and deliberately designed to amuse and provoke laughter jokes, etc. by exaggerating the situation, the language, action, relationships and characters. This section describes various forms of comedy    including slapstick,   and parodiesromantic comediesblack comedy, and more
Biopics' is a term derived from the combination of the words "biography" and "pictures." They are a sub-genre of the larger drama and epic film genres, These films depict the life of an important historical personage (or group) from the past or present era

Sci-fi films

Sci-fi films are often quasi-scientific, visionary and imaginative - complete with heroes, aliens, distant planets, impossible quests, improbable settings, fantastic places, unknown and unknowable forces, and extraordinary monsters, either created by mad scientists or by nuclear havoc. Science fiction often expresses the potential of technology to destroy humankind


Film noir 

Film noir (meaning 'black film') is a distinct branch of the crime/gangster sagas from the 1930s. Strictly speaking, film noir is not a genre, but rather the mood, style or tone of various American films that evolved in the 1940s, and lasted in a classic period until about 1960.  film noir, or suspense or thriller films that focus on the unsolved crime usually the murder or disappearance of one or more of the characters, or a theft, and on the central character - the hard-boiled detective-hero, as he/she meets various adventures and challenges in the cold and methodical pursuit of the criminal or the solution to the crime.

Fantasy films
Fantasy films, usually considered a sub-genre, are most likely to overlap with the film genres of 
science fiction and horror, although they are distinct. They often have an element of magic, myth, wonder, and the extraordinary. One of the major categories of fantasy-action films are the super-hero movies, based quite often on an original comic-strip or comic book character. They may appeal to both children and adults, depending upon the particular film.

Road films

The on-the-road plot was used at the birth of American cinema but blossomed in the years after World War II, reflecting a boom in automobile production and the growth of youth culture. Even so, awareness of the "road picture" as a genre came only in the 1960s A road film is a film genre in which the main characters leave home on a road trip, typically altering the perspective from their everyday lives. The genre has its roots in spoken and written tales of epic journeys.

The Motorcycle Diaries:The Motorcycle Diaries  is a 2004 biopic about the journey and written memoir of the 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara, who would several years later become internationally known as the iconic Marxist guerrilla commander and revolutionary Che Guevara.

War and Anti-War Films
War and Anti-War Films provide the primary plot or background for the action of the film. Typical elements in the action-oriented war plots include  camp experiences and escapes,  personal heroism . Themes explored in war films include combat, survivor and escape stories, tales of gallant sacrifice and struggle, studies of the futility and inhumanity of battle, the effects of war on society, and intelligent and profound explorations of the moral and human issues.

War films can also make political statements - unpopular wars (such as the Vietnam War and the Iraq War), have generated both supportive and critical films about the conflict  

Holocaust Films:

Steven Spielberg's award-winning epic   Schindler's List (1993) presented the devastating story of the Holocaust through the actions of womanizing German industrialist/war profiteer Oscar Schindler (Liam Neeson) who saved a thousand Jewish lives. Spielberg And exiled Best Director Roman Polanski's The Pianist (2002), with a Best Actor Oscar for lead actor Adrien Brody, was the harrowing story of survival for Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman during the Holocaust.

War films are often paired with other genres, such s romancecomedy (black), and suspense-thrillers.  War films as a major film genre emerged after the outbreak of World War I


Musical/dance films

Musical/dance films are cinematic forms that emphasize full-scale scores or song and dance routines in a significant way. This films are centered on combinations of music, dance, song or choreography. Major sub genres include the musical comedy or the concert film. 

Sports Films
Sports Films are those that have a sports setting (football or baseball stadium, arena, or the Olympics, etc.), competitive event or athlete that are central and predominant in the story. 

Narrative Point of View

Point of view in fiction refers to the source and scope of the narrative voice.  
Point of view refers to: “where an author chooses to stand in relation to his characters and action” or “the angle from which a writer allows readers to view his characters and action”. 

There are two main categories of points of view an author can adopt. First person and third person. First person narration can consist of major and minor characters' viewpoint.

Point of View and Reader Positioning:

Narrators play a key role in reader positioning. The narrator has the important job of telling the reader how to interpret the world of the story. The narrator acts as a filter or lens through which the reader can see the story. The reader is positioned in relation to the characters and the issues in the story by the way the narrator interprets the events. Different narrators will interpret events differently.

First Person Point of View

In the first person point of view, that is, the author gives the role of narrator to a character in the story. This persona may be a non-participant in the main action, a minor character or a major character. Put simply, the story is told from the “I” perspective .  It is important to remember that narrators are fictional constructs. That is, they are not real people. Narrators are not. You must be able to differentiate between the writer and the narrator. They are two different things. The writer is a real, living, breathing person who invents or constructs or creates the narrator. The narrator can be also called the persona.
Third person Objective
The story is narrated as though the characters and action, as though it is viewed through a camera. The author shows what is seen and heard is revealed. This form of narration does not necessarily follow one character. The reader finds out only what the author chooses to reveal. As such, we can be manipulated to think certain things simply because we do not have access to all information. We are made to judge, as it were, on the basis of intentionally limited knowledge. This can be used by the author as a device for constructing elements of character, as well as for creating suspense.

Omniscient Points of View

Omniscient Narrator: Here we have a god-like view of the world; the narrator is all-seeing and all-knowing. They have unlimited access to the thoughts and feelings of many characters. The writer’s choice of narrative point of view has a powerful impact on the way readers see the world of the story—this technique is very powerful in positioning the reader.

1.       Determine which of the two basic methods of narration is being used.
First person narration, where the narrator refers to self as I or we.
Third person narration, where the narrator does not use I or we, but instead talks about he, she, they, him, her, or them.

2.       Once you have determined whether it is first person or third person narration [or sometimes a mixture of the two with the narration shifting from first to third and back again], ask yourself:

Limited Omniscient Narrator:
The limited omniscient narrative point of view has a similar impact to that of the first person point of view because the reader tends to see the world of the novel from one angle of vision or one centre of consciousness. A useful term to use when discussing the effect of the first person narrative point of view or the limited omniscient narrative point of view is that the character whose thoughts we have access to acts as the focalize for the story.

Narrative Techniques

The following are the major techniques which authors may use to engage readers.
Character; Irony/ conflict; Point of view; Setting;


Character may be revealed through CHADSBOATS:
  • CH = character

  • A = author; thee author may comment directly about this character; ("he was a mean and nasty piece of work..")

  • D = dialogue or what the character says;

  • S = says; what the character thinks of the world and other people is revealed in his or her dialogue;

  • B = background; the character's context can tell us something about them, such as class attitudes;

  • O = others; what other characters say or think about them;

  • A = appearance; what some tells us what they are like as people;

  • T= thinks; what are the  his or her thoughts, feelings, doubts, fears, hopes.

  • S= Setting; where we learn about a character from the setting in which they are found. More often EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE of a character is created via setting, where a stormy turbulent landscape may mirror that aspect of a characters mental landscape and how he / she may be feeling.

 2. The conflict

This is an essential element in every short story. The conflict tells of some type of struggle:

Conflict may be internal or external. The tension created by this conflict gives rise to drama and action in the story. By identifying commonly experienced conflicts in a novel, we can identify THEME; ie how character/ s attempt to deal with and resolve major conflict in their lives is what the author wants us to consider.

              i.      Man (person or character) against man;
                                 ii.      Man against society;
                                 iii.      Man against his environment / nature;
                                 iv.      Man against himself. (This may be physical or psychological, but whatever it is, the conflict propels the story on to its final solution.)


The plot involves the ordering of the happenings; that is, selection and arrangements of incidents of the story into a recognizable sequence.

The setting involves the place and time of the incidents in the story. The location, the social environment, and period of history form an essential, element in the short story. Within this setting characters may move, initiating some action within the text. In addition the setting will construct some feeling in the reader in relation to place, character, time and action.
WHERE : place specific (classroom); place general (Ireland)
WHEN: time specific (midnight); time general or era (nineteenth century)
WHO ; the characters who may be introduced;
WHAT : some action may be established providing direction for th text to move in;
ATMOSPHERE : this is the mood or feeling created in the reader in relation to some aspect of setting.
EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE : Often the setting of a story acts as an emotional landscape. What this means is that the setting may mirror (or may directly contrast, to highlight) the main character's emotional state. As such the setting embodies feelings we the reader may attach to  the character.
Thus, the setting can play an active part in the short story.

  • It can time, place, character and action;
  • it can mirror, establish or influence a character's emotions, ideas or actions;
  • it can create a sense of mood and feeling (atmosphere). This atmosphere often plays a significant role in developing character, action and theme.

Point of View

In every story the reader can discern one (generally) of four basic points of view:
1.     The omniscient narrator knows everything about the characters, even their most inmost thoughts, but choosing to reveal only information that is relevant to the story. This is the most common point of view.
2.     A limited omniscient narrator is an all knowing about one character through whose eyes and thoughts the story is filtered.
3.     In a first person narration*, (*A first person narrator can only report what he/she sees, hears or is told by others.. He/she only has insight into the thoughts or motives of the characters if they have been told or overhear.)
a.      first person major : a character either tells his own story or one in which he is one of the participants;
b.     first person minor : here the character is a minor one, observing and reporting the life of the story's main character.


Plot are simple, linear, chronological sets of events. Indeed some stories are, however, there are many ways in which stories develop. How a story is developed and the order in which it proceeds, is its


Narrative structure is about two things:
1.    the content of a story and
2.    the form used to tell the story.
Two common ways to describe these two parts of narrative structure are story and plot.
Story refers to the raw materials of dramatic action as they might be described in chronological order.
Plot refers to how the story is told — the form of storytelling, or the structure, that the story follows. If we want to analyze narrative structure, we can use “who,” “what,” and “where” questions to look at the story or content of a movie. “How” and “when” questions are used to examine plot structure.

Conventionally, both story and plot are described in terms of how a character’s life is disrupted by an event or change in his/her situation; this causes a series of conflicts that the character(s) must face, including the major conflict that is eventually resolved at the end of the Film.

 “Conflict” in this model can take many forms, be it emotional, interpersonal, or even between the character and his/her physical environment.

This is an essential element in every short story. The conflict tells of some type of struggle:
                                       i.   Man (person or character) against man;
                                       ii.  Man against society;
                                       iii. Man against his environment / nature;
                                        iv. Man against himself. (This may be physical or psychological, but whatever it is, the conflict propels the story on to its final solution.)
Conflict may be internal or external. The tension created by this conflict gives rise to drama and action in the story. By identifying commonly experienced conflicts in a novel, we can identify THEME; ie how character/ s attempt to deal with and resolve major conflict in their lives is what the author wants us to consider.
Every story is told or narrated from at least one position or point of view. Some stories are told using several different points of view. (For example, a novel written in the third person may contain letters from character/s, providing us with a separate first person perspective.)

Where is the story set?
What event starts the story?
Who are the main characters?
What conflict(s) do they face?
How and when are the main characters introduced?
How is the story moved along so that the characters must face the central conflict?
How and when does the problem resolve most of the major conflict set up at the outset?

Complex Narrative Structure may contain the following:

Complex narrative structure is used by authors to add interest by complicating the story.
There are several authorial methods of achieving this. It can occur when the author uses causally unrelated narratives teamwork together to build thematic unity. This usually involves two or three or more clearly defined narratives each with their own sets of characters. There is often little or no intermingling of characters or narrative events, simply two or three narratives existing alongside each other.
One of the problems this causes authors involves not letting the reader lose track of what's going on. Since there are so many stories happening at once, a lot more reader activity is required to keep track of the various narratives. Therefore time and place are usually
clearly defined: events often occur within a very specific time frame in a specific locale to keep the reader focused. In order to achieve a form of formal closure, there is usually an event at the end of the story that brings all characters to one location or at least affects
them all in some way.

Another way an author can use complex narrative structure is in inter layering many flashbacks, or introducing fantasy elements or stories within stories to make the story diverge from a central plot line while maintaining thematic unity.
- flashbacks
- dream sequences
- repetition
- different characters' point of view
- multiple plot lines converging at the end
- flash forwards
- different time frames
- pre-figuring of events that have not yet taken place
- circular plotting where we are led back to the beginning
- backwards storytelling, where the denouement is shown first and
explained through the plot.

 What is a short film?

Definition:  The Academy (Oscars) define a short films as anything under 40 minutes. 


Narrative structure: 

It can be either subjective or objective but is usually subjective as a result of the length of the film, tends to be single stranded with an open ending such as in the film.


the short film genre can cover any number of genres in the same way a full length feature does, but due to the length of the film it has to be much more obvious to the viewer, themes include social realism,  community, crime and  immigration, family, segregation and war.

Style and Genre: 
the style of the short film usually differs from that of the full length films, the main reason is usually the budget, for example it is common in short films to see kinetic movement with the camera, due to the camera not having tracks to run across whilst moving. it uses relativly unknown actors as the famous  stars hesitate to working for such low budget films. the directors are usually unknown and they tend to be making short films in the hope of getting a big break for a larger film with a big budget. A notable style in short films is the open ended storyline. A style which is not common with the genre is a special effects one but in the film 

The cinematography of short films usually involves   very basic camera shots and movement of the camera.


It can sometimes have a score playing throughout the entire length of the film, sometimes uses a voice over in the film rather then any asynchronous diagetic sound,


 Usually uses a linear style editing, usually made in real time, not many cuts from one location to another, due to both budget and length of the film, uses the documentary style,  can sometimes use visual flashbacks.
Purpose of a short films
When dealing with short films there are three main reason in which are they are produced. These include promotion, education and experimental reasons.


Unknown directors and film makers are desperately wanting to get their name put out in the film market industry, therefore producing such films enables them to promote themselves. Short films are usually screened at films festivals or film competitions.


Short films mainly deal with contemporary issues, and some include elements of controversial themes. Short films are found to tackle social issues that are found in current society, these then provoke thought and discussion surrounding moral and ethnic issues. For this reason, they are useful to use in classes for educational purposes.


Thirdly, experimental reasons demonstrates how film makes have the opportunity to try out new techniques in a narrative. There are common conventions and techniques that can be found in short films, however since there is no wide audience to please, as there is no economic reward, it gives directors the option to expand on new ideas and new techniques. 

 Differences between Feature films and Short films

The biggest and most obvious difference between short films and feature films is of course, the length. For a short film must be less than 40 minutes in duration.

Another point we need to consider is budget, a successful feature film will have a considerably larger budget than an short film. This is due to the need to pay the cast and crew, rent or purchase of equipment and props, land rent, studio rent, marketing and so much more.

Feature films are shown in cinemas to generate revenue whereas Short films are intended for dvd/Tv because they are made to convey a message, not make money usually. 

Also Short films usually have a lesser known cast and crew, the reason is there are more purposes, all of which can be seen in the purposes section.
Finally, when seeing a feature film people will expect to see an ending but in case of short film there is no need of ending if there was not enough time to tie up every loose end.

Documentary Films

Documentary Films strictly speaking, are non-fictional, "slice of life" factual works of art - and sometimes known as cinema verite
Documentary films have comprised a very broad and diverse category of films. Examples of documentary forms include the following:
  • 'biographical' films about a living or dead person (Madonna, John Lennon, Muhammad Ali - , Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time (1992), or Glenn Gould)
  • a well-known event the Holocaust, 
  • a sociological or ethnographic examination following the lives of individuals over a period of time ( Steve James' Hoop Dreams (1994))
  • a sports documentary such as Extreme (1999) such as in The Endless Summer (1966))

The Earliest Documentaries:
Originally, the earliest documentaries in the US and France were either short newsreels, instructional pictures, records of current events, or travelogues without any creative story-telling, narrative, or staging. 

The first attempts at film-making, by the Lumiere Brothers and others, were literal documentaries, e.g., a train entering a station, factory workers leaving a plant, etc.

The first official documentary or non-fiction narrative film was Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North (1922), an ethnographic look at the harsh life of Canadian Inuit Eskimos living in the Arctic, Flaherty, often regarded as the "Father of the Documentary Film," also made the film Moana in1926.

Rock Concert/Music-Related Documentaries:
Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock - 3 Days of Peace & Music (1970) provided a definitive look at the three-day counter-cultural rock concert held in upper-state NY in 1969 - it was the Academy Award winning documentary film of its year

Biographical Documentary Films:
        The Oscar-winning documentary by Richard Kaplan, The Eleanor Roosevelt Story (1965), was a tribute to one of the most influential First Ladies in US history.  Bruce Weber's Let's Get Lost (1988) was a biographical account of the life of jazz trumpeter 
  Documentaries of The War Years:
Documentaries during the Great War were often propagandistic. Innovative German film-maker Leni Riefenstahl's pioneering masterwork epic Triumph of the Will in 1935, Germany. was explicitly propagandistic yet historical horrifying documentation of the Nazi Party Congress rally in Nuremberg in 1934. It was a revolutionary film combining superb cinematography and editing of Third Reich propaganda. She also documented the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the stunning film Olympia (1938, Germ.) - with graceful and beautiful images of 'Aryan' athletes in competition.

 To respond to the Nazi propaganda, Frank Capra was commissioned by the US War Department to direct seven films in a
 Why We Fight (1943) series of narrated WWII newsreel-style films.



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