Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Film Study/Analysis

As Allie and Piper are getting older, I am becoming more and more aware of movies that are often referred to in conversation.  Like books, there are many movies that come up in conversation.  I can not tell you how many times quotes from "This is Spinal Tap" have come up in conversation in my life.  So often in conversation with the girls, I find myself wanting to refer to "Dead Poet's Society" or "Good Will Hunting", only my girls have never seen those!  Just this past weekend, "Jaws" came up in conversation and I realized that my girls had never seen that, either--although, maybe that is a good thing because the conversation was that when swimming alone at night, we all heard that music!

My girls LOVE movies.  Allie is always asking about different movies on Netflix, what Jason and I liked when we were kids, what were popular movies and if she can watch certain movies (we sometimes permit the girls to watch rated R movies, depending on why the movie is rated R and often we watch it first to make sure we think it is ok).

One of my friends from high school teaches film classes at our former high school.  I sometimes daydream about the girls taking a class with him, but we would have to live in that town and we don't and besides we WANT to homeschool.  But, why couldn't I put together a class similar to the one he teaches?

I put a message out on Facebook, asking my friends what movies they think EVERYONE should see.  I got some excellent recommendations.

From there, I began a list of movies to watch together.

My friend, who is a college professor, offered to help me and send me some information.  I spent the last few weeks learning about semiotics and pre-code; teaching myself to analyze movies from different perspectives: Marxist, Feminist, psychoanalytical.  (I would not even have known where to BEGIN with help from Dr. JJ!)

I discovered this AWESOME website Teach with Movies.  There are lesson plans for various movies and general worksheets for different genres.

In addition to Lesson Plans for movies, TWM also offers various film analysis worksheets for different genres of films.

I also discovered this great little online book with video clips from Yale Film School.

I put several Film Analysis books on hold at the library and one of them had everything I wanted-- The Art of Watching Films by Petrie and Boggs is an AMAZING resource for a homeschool family wanting to study and analyze films. I decided to purchase the book on Amazon and found a copy of it THAT CAME WITH A CD (I paid $10.99 for the book used and the CD worked on my Mac!) with movie clips that correspond with the text to SHOW examples!  LOVE!  The book, however, is written at a college level.  I am not sure if it is entirely appropriate for my girls, I have gone through and highlighted and taken notes on the first few chapters and I am feeling very inspired to start this year!

This is the plan:

  1. I have taken notes from The Art of Watching Films and notes on semiotics, various vocabulary, etc. and created a little book for the girls.  We will work through that book first and also use the CD-Rom from The Art of Watching Films when appropriate.  Part of the book I created requires us to watch allegorical movies or certain movies that are known to be good for a certain kind of analysis and to look for certain elements while watching.
  2. Then, we are going to go over the Yale Film Analysis Guide, learn the terms, understand what they mean, watch the clips and discuss.
  3. We will watch some movies from our list and look for different elements.
  4. We will pick movies from the Teach with Movies site, use the Lesson Plans.
  5. Once we are comfortable with that, we will use the information I gleaned from Dr. JJ and pick some of our own films from the list we have created, sometimes use the TWM worksheets and other times discuss various components of the film.
Ideally I see this as a weekly Movie Night with my family, Jason included.  Maybe we will get pizza or make homemade pizza or have some sort of easy but special dinner that we can eat while watching a movie (we seldom eat in front of the TV, so it seems special when we do).  Hopefully our whole family will learn from this and bond over the shared experience of film analysis and study.

I like to fantasize about us twenty years from now, having Sunday dinner with the girls husbands and children, discussing films in terms of genres and motifs and camera angles.  But I am getting ahead of myself ;-)