1. Answer the following questions to understand the features of an effective film synopsis:
a. What is the length of the above synopses?
Rather short, around 100 words b. What tense is used to tell the story?
The present tenses
c. Which of the following items are provided in the synopses? Tick the appropriate boxes.
setting (time and place the story takes place)
the protagonists or main characters
the main plot
d. What kind of information is provided in brackets?
The name of the actor / actress in that character’s role
e. Is the ending of the story fully revealed in the synopses? Why?
The ending of the story is not totally revealed in order to arouse the readers’
interest in watching the film to find out the ending.
f. Which of the three films do you want to watch most after reading the synopses? Why?
Accept any reasonable answers
(e.g. I would like to watch Maleficent most because its plot is complicated and engaging. I am really eager to know if Maleficent will resolve her conflict with Aurora and Stefan and become a warm-hearted fairy again.)
2. With reference to the features introduced above, write a short synopsis of about 100 words on a film you have recently watched.
Film title: A Christmas Carol Director: Robert Zemeckis Year of release: 2009
Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), a stingy moneylender who runs his business by exploiting his employees, hates Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his dead partner Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman), who is now forced to spend his afterlife carrying heavy chains forged from his greedy ways.
Awakened by three Christmas spirits who reveal to him his miserable existence – his loss in the past, his greed and cruelty at present and the grim fate that awaits him in the future, Scrooge must face his own story of growing bitterness and meanness and decide what his own future will hold. The question is – Is he willing to change? (110 words)
Part B: Reading comments on films to master the language
While looking for more information about the films discussed in the workshop, you have found an online forum capturing viewers’ comments on two films.
My Shoes (2012) directed by Nima Raoofi
The movie is beautifully shot and well-paced. The ending cannot be more surprising. The final twist is really thought-provoking – I end up being more grateful for what I have after watching the film.
This is a masterpiece that definitely deserves three minutes of your life.
The piano music is exceptional and complements the plot really well. I was excited when the slow and soft music turned fast as the boy’s wish came true, but only to find out the miserable and shocking truth in the end. The music really facilitates and enhances the plot development.
This is a deftly directed piece that teaches us a valuable moral lesson. The paralysed boy can still smile despite his inability to walk whereas the able boy is complaining about his worn-out shoes and life being unfair. If a physically disabled person can be satisfied with his life, having old shoes is surely nothing to be sad about. The short film reminds us not to judge others’ lives by looking on the surface. We tend to focus on the shortcomings in our lives and envy others for what they have. The film is a wake-up call, conveying a serious message about the importance of contentment.
The performance of the two child actors is outstanding. They carry their roles as two boys from two opposite worlds brilliantly. The contrast of the two characters is very sharp.
A Christmas Carol (2009) directed by Robert Zemeckis
Jim Carrey steals the show as miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s a perfect Scrooge and the entire movie is an outburst of his talents. He uses his voice and mannerisms to great effect and graces the film. Gary Oldman and Colin Firth perform quite well in key supporting roles though Jim Carrey definitely outshines them. Leslie Zemeckis can be at times wooden and self-conscious in her role as Fred’s wife.
The cinematography and animation are superb. The use of 3D enlivens and enriches Dickens’ classic story. The costumes and images powerfully capture the spirit of the times in the 19th century London. The special effects add appeal to modern-day audience. The scenes featuring the Ghost of Christmas Present are visually stunning and breathtaking.
Maybe because I am not a big fan of 3D, I just think that a large part of the film is an excessive display of 3D technology and some of the special effects go over-the-top and create too much horror and unsettling feelings. For example, the visit of the three spirits is more gruesome than it should be! The sight of Marley’s Ghost with a flapping jaw is far too scary for small children. The film strays away from Dickens’ original work when the director shows off what the camera can do with aerial scenes zooming over Victorian London. The biggest stray is the chase scene with a mini-Scrooge going through drain pipes to escape an oncoming coach and horses trying to run him down. All these are unnecessary for presenting the theme and message of the story.
This wonderful remake of Dickens’ famous story will surely be on my list of films that define the season, along with Christmas Story, Home Alone, and It’s a Wonderful Life. I have always enjoyed this story because it explores the themes of charity and redemption – there is no better time than Christmas to spread this message of love and kindness. The story shows how people can be compassionate, even in the face of people who may look heartless and cold-blooded like Ebenezer Scrooge.
To facilitate your understanding and learn vocabulary for commenting on films, you have organised the comments using the note-sheet below:
1. Identify the aspect(s) of the film the comments focus on and whether they are on the whole positive or negative about the film:
Commentator Main aspect covered in the comment (e.g. plot, theme / message, acting, sound effects / music, visual effects)
Generally positive (+) / negative (-) about the film
Movie_Fan plot +
Bravo music +
Film-lover message +
Red_Carpet acting +
Cinemagoer acting + (with some negative
Boxofficer visual / cinematic effects /
Curator_Tim visual / cinematic effects -
SamUsherer theme / message +
2. A lot of adjectives are used in the comments to describe different aspects of the films. Identify them and organise them using the table below:
Adjective used Commentator
Acting skill outstanding, perfect, wooden, self-conscious
Red-carpet Cinemagoer Music exceptional, slow, soft, fast Bravo Visual image /
superb, stunning, breathtaking, over-the-top, excessive, gruesome, scary
Boxofficer Curator_Tim The whole film in
beautifully shot, well-paced, thought-provoking, deftly directed
3. Some verbs help to discuss the content and the cinematic effects of the film.
Complete the sentences using the verbs in the word box below. Make sure your answers are grammatically correct.
facilitate spread enliven enhance convey
present create enrich explore
a) The use of music helps facilitate / enhance / enrich the development of the story. (Bravo)
b) The film presents / explores the theme of kindness and spreads / conveys the message that love is the most powerful force and priceless gift. (Curator_Tim, Film-lover, SamUsherer)
c) The special effects enliven / enrich / enhance the story. They help to create an eerie mood and a sense of suspense in the film. (Boxofficer, Curator_Tim)
Task 4: Entering the Short Film Competition
Part A: Producing and presenting a short film
You are about to make a short film of under five minutes to enter the competition. Mr Lam has prepared a list of reminders for you. Read the reminders carefully and follow the steps below:
1. Read the storyboard which outlines your story.
2. Decide the role to be taken up by each group member and think about how the characters should look, act and speak in each scene.
3. Develop a script if necessary, memorise the lines before the actual shooting to ensure a smooth running.
4. Prepare the costumes and props needed for each scene / shooting location.
5. Decide on the shooting schedule and the equipment / mobile device to use (e.g. iPhone, iPad).
6. Test the equipment to ensure it is working and with sufficient battery life and storage capacity.
7. Rehearse and trial run each scene to estimate the time and predict problems likely to arise. Fine-tune the storyboard and script if necessary.
1. Test the device by conducting a trial recording in the actual surroundings to make sure the sounds and images can be captured clearly.
2. Speak loudly to make sure the characters’ speeches and dialogues can be heard clearly.
Use a portable microphone if necessary.
3. Preview after each scene to make sure the recording is satisfactory. Have a second shooting before moving on in case of undesirable effects.
1. Make use of the functions available on your device, apps or computer to do editing, and add sound effects, music and subtitles.
2. Write a synopsis of about 100 words to provide a plot summary of the film.
3. Review your work with the assessment form at LT 2.4.2 and make necessary revisions.
4. Upload the edited clip and synopsis to the competition page.
1. View and comment on two other films on the competition page. Focus your comment on a different aspect for each film and write at least 100 words in total. Review the comments with the assessment form provided at LT 2.4.3 and make necessary revisions before posting.
2. Vote for your favourite film for the “Audience Award”.
1. Teachers may create a group with the use of social learning platforms or learning management systems (e.g.
Edmodo, e-class) and use it as a competition webpage to facilitate the sharing of works and peer review among students, as well as the polling for the Audience Award.
2. Teachers can check with the teachers concerned to understand students’ previous knowledge in editing and the apps or software available for use at school. Make special arrangements to provide mobile devices for shooting and editing tools for students who do not have access to them outside class / school.
Group ( )
Members’ names: _____________________________________________________________________