1. Go through the seven steps for drawing a storyboard and the examples provided.
Ask students to work in pairs and number the steps.
Part B: Turning a story into a storyboard (LT 2.2.2)
1. Explain to students that fictional elements such as plot and characterisation are common to all stories, whether they are told in words (as in short stories) or with images and sound effects (as in films). The purpose of this task is to help students visualise and picturise ideas expressed in written and printed forms, which is a process directors go through to turn a story / script into a film.
2. Before instructing the students to read the story “The Gift of the Magi”, explain the following:
The text is an “abridged”, meaning shortened or simplified, version of the original story.
The title “The Gift of the Magi” comes from the Bible. The Magi (/ˈmeɪ.dʒaɪ/) were the Three Kings who followed a guiding star and travelled from the East to Bethlehem to give presents to the baby Jesus. The Magi were considered wise men in Christian tradition. Ask students to bear this in mind and think about how the title is relevant to the story as they read. They will be asked to share their views on whether the title is well-designed after reading the story.
3. Read the first two paragraphs of the story with the students. Ask them to identify Della’s problem (i.e. lack of money to buy her husband a Christmas gift) and predict what might happen and whether the ending would be happy or sad.
4. Get students to finish reading the story on their own and answer Q1 – Q11, which will help them analyse the plot and theme of the story and get prepared for drawing the storyboard.
5. Check students’ understanding of the story by going through Q1 – Q11. Invite students to share their views on how the story illustrates the theme of “Count your blessings” in Q11. (Though Jim and Della were not rich and they ended up losing their most valuable possession, their love was deep and they were willing to make sacrifice for their loved one. Most importantly, they did not blame each other and were contented with what they had. The story reminds us to count our blessings, not to focus on the misfortunes.)
6. Discuss the following with students after they finish reading the story:
Does the story meet your expectation?
Do you think it is a sad story? Why? (Yes, the ending was poignant as the couple’s money and efforts were wasted. They both lost their most valuable possession and received a gift that was no longer useful. / No, the story was sweet as the couple cherished the time together and the wife smiled in contentment in the end. The story showed that the couple were willing to sacrifice for each other and their love was deep and priceless.)
How does the title relate to the message of the story? Is the title effective?
(The story was set at Christmas time, which was also the time the Magi offered the gifts to the infant Jesus. The Magi gave the most precious gifts to Jesus, like Della and Jim, who tried to give each other the nicest gifts.)
What alternative title could you think of for this story?
(Accept any reasonable answer to encourage creativity but stress that a good title often carries a symbolic meaning and adds to the theme(s)).
7. Ask students to work in pairs to complete the plot diagram of the story “The Gift of the Magi”. One student can focus on the drawing and the other the words.
Remind them to select important parts / scenes from the story to be included in the storyboard and be ready to justify their choices.
8. Display the completed plot diagrams in the classroom. Invite students to comment on their storyboards and choose the best one.
Part C: Designing a storyboard (LT 2.2.3 & an enlarged storyboard)
1. Introduce the task and tell students that they are going to:
decide on the message of the short film they are going to produce for the competition, and
brainstorm ideas and provide an outline of the short film with the use of a storyboard.
2. Put students in groups of 4-6 and introduce the two messages for their choice (i.e.
“Count your blessings” and “Never judge a book by its cover”). Explain briefly the meaning of the two proverbs.
3. Revisit “The Gift of the Magi” and explain that it is a story which carries the message of “Count your blessings”. Elicit from students some ideas that can be turned into a story with the message of “Never judge a book by its cover”. Relate the proverb to My Shoes, which also tells us that appearance can be deceptive.
4. Guide students to plan for the scenes to be included in the storyboard using the following questions:
On the development of the story
Setting: When and where does the story take place?
Characters: Who are the main characters of my story?
Theme: What object(s) with a symbolic meaning can be used to show the theme / message?
Plot: Does the story show a clear plot structure (i.e. exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution)?
On filming and presentation
How many characters do you need in the shot?
What props are needed in the shot?
What types of camera shots (close-up, wide shot, etc.) should be used?
Is any lighting needed? (The lighting depends on the type of mood you are trying to create, e.g. strong sunlight, moonlight, candlelight, fading light, pitch darkness)
What other special effects could be added (e.g. changing the tone and colour
5. Remind students of the following:
Be realistic: set the story in an accessible place where shooting can easily be arranged.
Be critical: come up with a logical story that illustrates the theme adequately.
Evaluate ideas in the process of drawing and refining the storyboard.
Be creative: avoid clichés in storylines and stereotypes in characterisation.
Refine the plot before considering presentation details such as the use of special effects and camera shots.
Come up with an appealing film title, preferably with a symbolic or metaphorical meaning, to shed some light on the story and catch the viewers’
6. Designate and distribute Post-it notes of different colours or shapes for students to draw the illustrations and add the special effects, camera shots and descriptions of the scenes on the plot diagram to raise students’ awareness of the different elements to be added to the storyboard. Tell students that the easy removal of the Post-it notes enables them to revise and edit their storyboard easily.
7. Allow time for students to finish the storyboard after class. Provide feedback and display the storyboards in class to facilitate sharing and peer feedback among students.
Part A: Reading and writing film synopses (LT 2.3.1) Question 1
1. Explain to students that Q1 aims to familiarise them with the text and language features of a film synopsis and prepare them for writing one for their short film.
2. Ask students to work on two or three of the film synopses depending on their readiness and time. As the objective of the activity is to heighten students’
awareness of the language features, it is not necessary for students to know every word in the synopses.
3. Go over the answers with students and highlight the features of an effective film synopsis:
Short and precise (around 100 words)
Using the present tenses to tell the plot
Providing key information (e.g. setting, main characters and plot) of the film
Putting names of actors / actresses in brackets next to the main characters’
Not giving away the ending and leaving readers interested to watch the film Question 2
1. Ask students to write a film synopsis on a film of their own choice (similar to those they see at the back of movie DVDs). Remind them to:
research online for more information about the film (e.g. the cast list),
avoid copying directly from online plot summaries and synopses, and rewrite and paraphrase where necessary, and
check if their work has displayed the features of a film synopsis discussed in Q1.
2. For more advanced students, draw their attention to sentence patterns and language items used in the three film synopses in Q1, for example:
Participle phrases – “Resolved to avenge Stefan’s betrayal, Maleficent places a curse on Stefan’s baby girl Aurora.”
Relative clauses – “…, and this is particularly true for Riley, who is relocated from Minnesota to San Francisco when her father starts a new job.”
Appositives and post-modifiers – “Maleficent, a young fairy with giant wings,
inhabited by many kind supernatural creatures.”
Explain that the language structures can also be used in combination. For example:
Appositives + relative clause – “Riley experiences a myriad of emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, which all live in Headquarters, the control centre inside Riley’s mind.”
Participle phrase + relative clause – “Caught between life and death, Mia has only one critical decision to make, which will not only decide her future but also her ultimate fate.”
3. Read students’ work to see if they have displayed the text type features and provide feedback which focuses on the target features. Detailed marking is not required.
4. Select some students’ work for display. Guide students to identify the strengths and weaknesses in their peers’ writing and make suggestions for improvement.
5. Tell students that they will need to apply the language learnt in the final task, where they will write a synopsis for their own short film.
Part B: Reading comments on films to master the language (LT 2.3.2)
1. Ask students to read the eight comments (four on each film). Depending on students’ ability, allow students to work individually, in pairs or in groups. For example, less advanced students may work in groups of four, with each member focusing on two comments only.
2. Ask students to answer Q1 as they are reading:
Identify the area / aspect of the film each comment focuses on
Decide whether each comment is positive or negative about the film
3. Go over the answers of Q1 to check students’ understanding of the comments.
4. Point out to students that adjectives are often used in comments to describe the different levels of achievements of a film. They often come before nouns or after the verb “to be”. Ask students to identify the adjectives used in the comments and complete Q2.
can be used. Here are some examples:
Acting skill excellent, brilliant, natural, fine, passionate, pretentious, exceptional
Music delightful, gentle, romantic, noisy, melodious, rhythmic, mysterious
Visual image / cinematic effect
spectacular, powerful, fascinating, dazzling, compelling, gripping, striking, astonishing, impressive, comical The whole film
family-friendly, intriguing, boring, predictable, fast-paced, highly original, touching, light-hearted, well-directed
6. Ask students to read the comments again and complete Q3 with the words provided. For more advanced students, encourage them to expand their vocabulary bank with the help of a thesaurus or collocation dictionary. Below are some examples:
The film presents / explores / develops / examines the theme of kindness and spreads / conveys / sends/ delivers / puts forth the message that love is the most powerful force.
The use of different camera angles contributes to / lends weight to the development of the story.
They help to create / build / evoke an eerie mood / suspense.
For less advanced students, focus on helping them master core vocabulary items.
7. Remind students that they will need to apply the adjectives and verbs they have learnt in the final task, where they will write comments on two short films.
Part A: Producing and presenting a short film (LT 2.4.1)
1. Ask students to return to the groups previously formed in Task 2 (LT 2.2.3).
Explain to students that they are to complete the following tasks to enter the competition:
(i) producing a short film of under five minutes on one of the messages:
“Count your blessings” or “Never judge a book by its cover”;
(ii) writing a synopsis of about 100 words for the short film produced; and (iii) uploading the short film and synopsis to the competition page on the online
2. To prepare students for the shooting, go through the reminders and steps on LT 2.4.1 with students. Guide students to:
revisit the storyboard for the refinement of the theme, plot and characters;
discuss the cast (what role they would each take up) and think about the lines (speeches and dialogues) for each role;
consider the props, costumes, music and sound effects to be used, and
plan the schedule and procedures for shooting the short film and anticipate the possible challenges (e.g. finding a suitable venue for shooting, sound quality, a large number of mistakes which may affect the progress of shooting).
3. Allow time for students to do the shooting. After they have completed the shooting, ask students to make use of editing tools (e.g. iMovie) to edit their short film.
Should students have difficulty editing their film, they may:
check online for some YouTube tutorials on the editing tools and apps they are using, and / or
approach the ICT teachers, technicians or IT prefects for assistance.
Alternatively, assign a more technologically savvy student in each group to be the IT leader and provide them with some training on basic editing skills.
4. Go through Part A of “Assessment Form: Short Film and Synopsis” (LT 2.4.1), which will be used for assessing students’ final work. Elicit from students the criteria under the three aspects to raise their awareness of the elements of a well-produced short film.
Fictional aspect: theme, message, plot, characters, setting
Cinematic aspect: audio-visual effects - music and sound effects, camera shots and angles
5. Go through Part B of “Assessment Form: Short Film and Synopsis” (LT 2.4.1) and use the assessment criteria as a checklist to remind students of the key elements of an effective synopsis. Revisit the text type and language features learnt in Task 3 (LT 2.3.1 – LT 2.3.2) by asking the following questions:
What tense should be used to tell the story? (the present tenses)
What should be included in the synopsis? (setting, main characters, cast, plot)
Should the ending of the story be revealed? (No. A secret ending helps hook the readers to view the short film to the end.)
6. Demonstrate how to upload the short film and synopsis to the online learning platform. Inform the groups of the deadline for uploading the short film and synopsis. For ease of giving feedback, assign a representative in each group to print out and hand in the synopsis.
7. Assess students’ short films and synopses with the use of the assessment form (LT 2.4.2). Highlight the strengths and areas for improvement in the “Overall Comments”.
Part B: Commenting on other entries and voting for the audience award (LT 2.4.2)
1. Ask students to work individually now and complete the following in the role of a viewer:
(i) Watching two short films produced by other groups
(ii) Writing a 50-word comment on each of the two films, each focusing on a different aspect (fictional, dramatic and cinematic)
(iii) Casting a vote on the online learning platform to nominate one of the short films for the “Audience Award”
2. Help students connect their learning experience in Tasks 1 and 3 and encourage them to use the adjectives and sentence structures learnt in LT 2.3.2 to comment on the chosen films.
comments written by students. The form can also be shared with students for conducting peer or self-assessment. Check if they have selected two different short films and commented on a different aspect for each.
4. Select a few sample comments written by students for discussion in class. Guide students to identify the aspect(s) commented and use different colours to highlight the vocabulary or language patterns used. Ask students to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the selected comments and make suggestions for improvement.
5. As a round-up to the unit and competition, select the best film for the “Jury Prize”
and announce the polling results and the recipient of the “Audience Award”. Play the award winning films and present the accompanying synopses for the class to appreciate. Highlight key cinematic features (e.g. how camera angles are used to convey messages, how music or lighting enhances the effects) and language used in the synopses to encourage critical viewing and reading. Present certificates and prizes if applicable.
Task 1 Analysing and Appreciating a Short Film
Mr Lam has shown you and your classmates the following flyer on a short film competition today and encouraged all of you to take part in the competition.
Call for Entries
Short Film Competition
Hong Kong Schools English Film Festival
We are now calling for budding filmmakers and talented youths to submit entries to the Short Film Competition.
Your short film should be under five minutes and based on one of the themes below:
Count your blessings
Never judge a book by its cover Selected entries will be awarded:
The Jury Prize is selected by the Jury composed of world-famous filmmakers and critics, while the Audience Award is selected by the audience through online polling.
The winning directors will get a sponsorship for their future production and represent Hong Kong in the Berlin Youth Film Festival, with the travelling expenses covered.
Their works will be shown in the Hong Kong Schools English Film Festival and the Berlin Youth Film Festival.
Entries should be uploaded to the website: www.hkseff.org.hk/shortfilm with a short synopsis of about 100 words before 10 December this year.
For enquiries, please contact us through:
Email: email@example.com Tel: 3111 8888 Fax: 3111 8000
Part A: Understanding the three aspects of film analysis
To help students understand what makes a good film and prepare them for making one, Mr Lam has organised a film appreciation workshop. The first session of the workshop focuses on the key elements of a film and how they help convey ideas and messages to the audience.
Three aspects of film analysis
The fictional aspect covers elements that can be found in a story, including theme, plot, character(s) and setting.
The dramatic aspect covers elements that can also be found in a drama performance, including acting, movements, costumes and props.
The cinematic aspect covers features unique to film, including audio-visual effects such as the use of camera shots and angles.
I. Viewing a film trailer
Watch the trailer of the film The Lion King (2019) directed by Jon Favreau and answer the five questions that follow:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TavVZMewpY 1. What do you think is the main theme of the movie?
courage and bravery, family love, friendship, power and glory, perseverance and determination (Any reasonable answer)
2. (a) What adjectives would you use to describe little Simba’s character? Find examples / evidence from the trailer to support your answer. Some answers have been provided as examples.
Adjective Example / evidence
(1) timid / diffident
He steps back in the face of the hyenas.
(2) curious He watches an insect crawling on a stone from behind.
He tags along with his father and follows him to the hanging cliff.
Accept any reasonable answers.
(b) Simba does not speak at all in the trailer. How are his character traits revealed to the audience?
His character traits are shown through his facial expressions, actions and movements, as well as interactions with other animals.
3. Cinematic techniques are often used to create moods and psychological effects that impact on the viewers’ interpretation of the characters and story. Match the following cinematic techniques used in the trailer with their intended purposes and effects.
Cinematic Technique Purpose / Effect
featuring the darkness of the setting (0:18-0:22)
( c ) a) to build a sense of tension and excitement
shooting the animals from high above (0:34-0:36)
( e ) b) to create a light-hearted mood when introducing the comical characters close-up to the character’s
body and face (0:48-0:51)
( d ) c) to create an eerie mood and a sense of danger
fast changing of scenes and alternating between day and night (1:06-1:15)
( f ) d) to show the character’s inner feelings and emotions
using dramatic, fast-paced and heavy music (0:54-1:07)
( a ) e) to show the vast landscape and power of the character(s)
changing to light-hearted music (i.e. the singing of Timon and Puba) (1:38-1:45)
( b ) f) to show the passage of time and transformation of the character
II. Identifying the aspects of film analysis
Which aspect(s) of film analysis does each of the above questions focus on?
Question 1 focuses mainly on the fictional aspect.
Question 2 focuses mainly on the fictional and dramatic aspects.
Question 3 focuses mainly on the cinematic aspect.
Part B: Preparing viewing notes
In the second session of the film appreciation workshop, you will watch an award-winning short film – My Shoes by Nima Raoofi and prepare viewing notes. Scan the QR Code below or access the film online with the URL provided.
Watch the short film My Shoes two times. Focus on understanding the messages and ideas in the first viewing. Study the questions, jot down some key points during the second viewing and tidy up your notes.
1. Who are the main characters in this short film? Briefly describe them.
Two boys, one wearing worn-out shoes and the other brand new shoes
2. When and where is this short film set?
In a park (outdoors) in the daytime
3. What happens in the film?
Summarise the main plot.
The boy wearing the worn-out shoes is teased by his peers and very upset. He sees a boy with a brand new pair of shoes and wishes he could be him. When his wish comes true, he learns that the boy is paralysed.
4. How do the characters tell the story (e.g. through body movements, facial expressions, dialogues)?
Acting (e.g. facial expressions, body movements) is used to tell the story. There is little speech in the film, except the monologue of the boy when he plays with his shoes and the caretaker’s question in the end.
5. What do you notice about the costumes and make-up in this short film?
The way the two boys dress, especially their shoes, helps to show their difference in socio-economic / family background.