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Resource Materials on the Learning and Teaching of Film


Academic year: 2022

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Resource Materials on the Learning and Teaching of Film

This set of materials aims to develop senior secondary students’ film analysis skills and provide guidelines on how to approach a film and develop critical responses to it. It covers the fundamentals of film study and is intended for use by Literature in English teachers to introduce film as a new literary genre to beginners. The materials can be used as a learning task in class to introduce basic film concepts and viewing skills to students before engaging them in close textual analysis of the set films. They can also be used as supplementary materials to extend students’ learning beyond the classroom and promote self-directed learning.

The materials consist of two parts, each with the Student’s Copy and Teacher’s Notes.

The Student’s Copy includes handouts and worksheets for students, while the Teacher’s Notes provides teaching steps and ideas, as well as suggested answers for teachers’ reference.

Part 1 provides an overview of film study and introduces students to the fundamentals of film analysis. It includes the following sections:

A. Key Aspects of Film Analysis B. Guiding Questions for Film Study

C. Learning Activity – Writing a Short Review

Part 2 provides opportunities for students to enrich their knowledge of different aspects of film analysis and to apply it in the study of a short film. The short film “My Shoes” has been chosen to illustrate and highlight different areas of cinematography (e.g. the use of music, camera shots, angles and movements, editing techniques).

Explanatory notes and viewing activities are provided to improve students’ viewing skills and deepen their understanding of the cinematic techniques.

While this set of resource materials is pitched at beginner level, references to websites and video clips that support further exploration are provided throughout the package.

The weblinks and URLs included were accurate at the time of dissemination but may be subject to change in the future. Teachers may make use of a search engine to regain access to any relocated resources or look for similar resources on the web.




Special thanks are due to Nima Raoofi for permission to show shots from his film

“My Shoes” in this set of materials.



Part I

A. Key Aspects of Film Analysis

Film is a genre which shares some common features of other literary texts (e.g. a novel) and theatrical features of other performing arts (e.g. a drama), while having unique cinematic features of its own.

Literary aspects (as in a novel/short story)

Dramatic/theatrical aspects (as in a play/drama)

Cinematic aspects

 Plot (the story-line, development of events, narrative sequences and techniques, e.g.

foreshadowing, flashback)

 Characters

(protagonists, villains and heroes, round and flat characters)

 Point of view (e.g.

narrative voice and perspective)

 Setting (time and place where the story happens)

 Theme (the subject and ideas explored)

 Sub-genre (comedy, tragedy, science fiction, horror, suspense, romance)

 Visualisation of action (movement of the characters, stage combat) and setting (stage design)

 Acting (actors’ facial expressions, actions and speeches)

 Costumes (clothing of the characters)

 Make-up and hairdo

 Framing/mise-en-scène

 Camera angles (high angle, straight-on/

eye-level angle or low angle shots)

 Camera position and distance (close-up, medium and long shots)

 Camera movements (panning, tilting, rolling)

 Editing (continuity editing, montage editing, cuts, fades)

 Lighting

 Visual effects

 Use of sound effects and music

As film shares many features with other literary genres covered in the Literature in English curriculum (e.g. prose fiction, drama), you should start analysing a film by bringing in your previous knowledge of textual studies and skills for literary



appreciation and critical analysis. It is important to realise the parallel features between film and the other literary genres while understanding how film appeals to the audience’s sense of sound and sight more directly.

B. Guiding Questions for Film Study

The following guiding questions may help you examine the core elements of a film and form a basic understanding of the film you are viewing:

Literary aspects: questions to consider 1. Who are the main characters in the film?

2. When and where is the film set?

3. What are the main plot elements?

4. Which is the most striking or exciting part in the film?

5. From whose point of view is the story told?

6. What is the theme or main message of the film?

7. What is the mood of the film?

8. What symbols are used in the film?

9. Does the film belong to a particular genre?

Dramatic aspects: questions to consider

1. Do the actors perform so well that you think the story is real?

2. How important are the costumes and make-up to the success of the film?

3. Are there any scenes particularly difficult to act?

4. How do the actors use their voice, speech/dialogue, body movement and facial expression to achieve the desired effects?

5. Do the actors establish their characters more through speech/dialogue or through body movement and facial expression?

6. Is there anything about the acting, set or costumes that you particularly like or dislike?

7. Do you recognise any particular style of the director?

8. How does the film compare to other films by the same director or other films of the same genre?

Cinematic aspects: questions to consider

1. What visual images impress you the most? What do the images make you feel or think about?

2. Are there any scenes which use colours and lighting effectively to create the



desired effect?

3. What sound or music does the film use? What do they make you feel or think about?

4. Which part of the film has special or unusual editing? What impact does the editing have on the overall effectiveness of the film?

5. Are there other technical or special effects used in the film? Do they add to the overall effectiveness of the film?

C. Learning Activity – Writing about a Short Film

Watch Ferdinand Dimadura’s short film “Chicken a la Carte”, which was awarded The Most Popular Short Film in the Short Film Competition on the theme FOOD, TASTE &

HUNGER at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2006. The short film can be accessed at the URL below:


As you are watching, note down what happens in the film, as well as the audio-visual effects in the template provided. Some examples have been provided for your reference:

What happens Audio-visual effects

Signboards of KFC, McDonald’s, Jollibee and Chow King are shown before the film title appears.

 Close-up to clearly show the brands of the fast food chains

 Mysterious and mystical music Two girls walk into the restaurant, look

at the menu, place their orders and wait for the food to be brought by the dumbwaiter.

 Tense drum sound

The two girls chat and giggle, while other customers line up to place orders.

The girls eat little, leaving the restaurant with a lot of leftovers on their plates.

A man travels on the road on a tricycle with a rubbish bin.

 Mysterious and mythical music again

The man checks the leftovers in the rubbish bin and picks out some meaty pieces of chicken.





With reference to the guiding questions in Section B, choose one of the following aspects of the film to focus on:

 Literary aspects

 Dramatic aspects

 Cinematic aspects

Watch the short film a second time and focus on the aspect you will work on. Enrich your notes.

Form groups of three, with each student focusing on a different aspect. Share your general observations of the film with your classmates.

Individually, write a few paragraphs on the chosen aspect of the film. You do not need to answer all the guiding questions listed in Section B and may select a few relevant ones to focus on. You should explain and elaborate on your points and offer personal responses with supporting details from the film.




Warm-up Activities

Before introducing film as a new genre and explaining the literary, dramatic and cinematic aspects to students, teachers may arouse students’ interest and enthusiasm for talking about films with some of the following warm-up activities:

 Ask students to brainstorm what comes to their mind when they hear the word

“film” (e.g. Oscar, cinema, movie stars, Hollywood, director, box office, new releases)

 Show some film reviews on the latest box office hits taken from the Internet sources, newspapers or film magazines

 Play short clips of the Oscars or other film awards and events

 Ask students to talk about the last film they watched and what they like or dislike about it

 Ask students to think of a film that they would recommend to their classmates and share why this film is worth-watching

 Arrange a group visit to the cinema

Make it clear to students that in the Literature in English subject, they need to go beyond passive entertainment to active study and in-depth analysis of a film. It is not advisable to bombard students with a comprehensive list of technical film terminology at the early stage, as this can be intimidating to beginners.

A. Key Aspects of Film Analysis

To build on students’ previous experiences and activate their prior knowledge, teachers may start by guiding students to think about the differences between a printed text (e.g. a novel, a short story) and a non-print text (e.g. a film, a drama performance).

It would suffice at this stage if students can identify some of the following similarities and differences between printed and non-print texts.

Similarities Printed texts (e.g. a novel, a short story)

Non-print texts (e.g. a film, a drama performance)

Common features/

 Subject matter/theme

 Plot



elements  Characters

 Point of view

 Setting

 Sub-genre

Differences Printed texts (e.g. a novel, a short story)

Non-print texts (e.g. a film, a drama performance)

Mode of presentation

 Written words  Speeches

 Written words

 Actions

 Images

 Music and sounds Interaction

with the audience

 More subtle and indirect appeal to the reader, involving their imagination

 More room for free interpretation

 Readers can adjust the reading speed and pace

 More direct appeal to the audience’s sense of sound and sight with the use of technical effects

 Less narrative subtlety and room for imagination

 Spectators cannot adjust the viewing speed and pace of the film in the cinema (can rewind, fast-forward and re-watch with films on DVDs or the Internet)

After students point out the similarities and differences between the printed and non-print literary texts based on their previous learning experiences, teachers can refer to the table on page 3 and explain to students that the similarities are mainly the “literary aspects” (i.e. the left column) and the differences are mainly the

“dramatic/theatrical aspects” (i.e. the middle column).

Teachers can then ask students to explain how a film is different from a drama performance on stage. This will help draw students’ attention to the “cinematic aspects” (i.e. the right column), which are unique to films.

B. Guiding Questions for Film Study

After students have realised the similarities of film with the print-based genres they have studied, it may be a good idea to play a film version, or an excerpt of a film



version, of one of the set texts students have studied. This can encourage students to go beyond the literary elements (e.g. plot, characters, themes) that they are already familiar with and focus more on the dramatic and cinematic aspects to consider how the audio-visual elements create effects and change their understanding of the original text.

The guiding questions aim to provoke students’ thoughts on a film and encourage them to interact with the texts more actively instead of just viewing the film for passive entertainment. Not all questions are applicable to all films. For example, the use of sound effects may be more prominent and effective in one film, while another film may rely a lot on the use of colours and lighting to achieve artistic effects.

Students may focus on a few relevant questions that allow them to explore and discuss the salient features of the film.

C. Learning Activity – Writing A Short Review

Ferdinand Dimadura’s “Chicken a la Carte” is chosen for this activity because it is a short film with a clear narrative structure. Students can easily identify the central message and audio-visual effects used to present the ideas.

This learning activity allows students to practise being a critical viewer and applying the three-aspect model to examine a film. The ultimate aim of the activity is to help students generate more ideas and critical responses from the viewing.

Note-taking Process

The note-taking process is crucial to helping students turn their viewing experience from passive entertainment to active interaction with the film. The notes taken also provide useful information for them to review key scenes and reflect on what they have watched, so that they can complete the subsequent discussion and writing activity more effectively.

Teaching Suggestions to Cater for Learner Diversity

Supporting the less advanced students:

Before students conduct the note-taking activity, teachers may ask them to focus on the left column and note down what happens in the clip (i.e. the plot and storyline) in the first viewing and complete the right column in the second viewing.



Where necessary, teachers may freeze the screen to show a static image from the film and then demonstrate how to describe scenes with different levels of detail.

Take the shot showing a skinny girl with dishevelled hair eating a drumstick (around 3:26 in the film) as an example. Below are three descriptions of the same image with different levels of detail:

1. A girl is eating a drumstick.

2. A skinny, hungry girl is munching on a drumstick and sucking every bit of meat from it.

3. In the close-up shot, a skinny, hungry girl is sucking every bit of a drumstick hungrily. She looks straight at us with her pleading eyes as if she was asking for more.

While describing the same image, a progression from factual to descriptive and then interpretative can be seen from the three versions. Students could be encouraged to model after the samples and describe a few powerful shots from

“Chicken a la Carte”.

Challenging the more advanced students:

Teachers may introduce two terms and concepts to help students describe and analyse a filmic image in detail and heighten their awareness of how a film-maker selects details to include in a scene to convey meaning:

(1) Mise-en-scène

It is a French term that literally means “put in the scene”. It refers to everything that goes into a film before the shot is taken. It is generally made up of the following six elements:

 Setting and props

 Costumes, hairdo and make-up

 Facial expressions and body language

 Lighting and colour

 Sound

 Blocking/positioning of characters and objects



(2) Framing

Framing refers to how the camera sets the bounds of the image (usually a rectangle) to select the part of the scene to feature to audience. Camera movements lead to reframing of the image. Framing works with mise-en-scène to determine the overall composition of the image and define the relationship of people and objects in the shot. This works the same in still photography as it does in films.

When students are able to describe what they see in a static image (e.g. a photo), they are ready to explore the relationship between a static image and the motion picture (a film). Teachers may tell students that a film is made up of a series of still images which create the illusion of moving images when being shown at a high speed on screen.

Suggested points for the note-taking activity:

What happens in the clip Audio-visual effects Signboards of KFC, McDonald’s, Jollibee

and Chow King are shown before the film title appears.

 Close-up to clearly show the brands of the fast food chains

 Mysterious and mystical music Two girls walk into the restaurant, look

at the menu, place their orders and wait for the food to be brought by the dumbwaiter.

 Tense drum sound

The two girls chat and giggle, while other customers line up to place orders.

The girls eat little, leaving the restaurant with a lot of leftovers on their plates.

A man travels on the road on a tricycle with a rubbish bin.

 Mysterious and mystical music again

 Dollying/tracking is used to follow the tricycle’s movement from behind

He checks the leftovers in the rubbish bin and handpicks some meaty pieces of chicken.

 Mysterious, mystical and spiritual music goes on

 Close-up of the hands selecting the chicken



The man travels on the road in the dark to return home.

 Tracking shot is used to follow the movement of the bicycle from the back.

The tricycle enters the suburb. Kids flock to the tricycle, opening the trash bin eagerly to dig out the food, munching on them contentedly and excitedly.

 Contrast between the dark road and the bright countryside.

 A soulful song “Let Me Tell Their Story” is played, arousing sad emotions.

The man returns to his dimly-lit house.

The pregnant wife lays the table. The children are waiting eagerly and excitedly for the father to deal out the chicken and spaghetti.

 The song “Let Me Tell Their Story”

goes on, with lyrics slowly shown.

The daughter wants to have a quick bite but the father stops her, reminding her to say a prayer to thank God for the food before eating.

Words on the screen show 25,000 people die of hunger every day.

Happy faces of children opening the garbage bin excitedly to get the food are shown again along the closing credits.

Teachers may, in the process of viewing and answer-checking, introduce some basic film terms with examples from “Chicken a la Carte”. Below are some suggestions:

Term Meaning Example from the

short film Close-up A type of shot that is taken from very

near and displays the most detail. It tightly frames a person or an object and does not include the broader scene.

Moving in from a longer and wider shot to a close-up is a common type of zooming.

The camera zooms in for a close-up of the KFC signboard (00.01-00.02)

Dolly/tracking shot

A continuous shot in which the camera moves alongside or parallel to its subject, often used to follow a subject

The camera follows the movement of the man on a tricycle



while it is in motion(e.g. a walking person or a moving vehicle

from his back (2:49-2:52) Diegetic sound Actual sound made by characters and

objects in the story (e.g. characters talking)

The background noise in the restaurant Non-diegetic


Sound which comes from a source outside the story space (e.g. mood music, narrator’s commentary, sounds added for dramatic effects) and plays a key role in creating the atmosphere and mood of the film

The song “Let Me Tell Their Story”, which arouses the viewers’


It should be noted that film terms should only be introduced in context or with clear examples and students’ readiness should be taken into consideration. Memorisation of a long list of technical terms is not encouraged, as stated in the Literature in English Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6).

Teaching Suggestions to Cater for Learner Diversity

Assigning students to work on different aspects

Teachers may, according to students’ ability levels and interests, assign them to work on one of the three aspects (i.e. literary, dramatic and cinematic aspects). For example, the less advanced students could be assigned to look at the literary aspect, which is more on the content and messages of the clip, whereas the more advanced students could be assigned to look at the cinematic aspect, which focusses more on identifying the audio-visual and technical elements, and explain how they create effects in the film.

Students taking up different roles can form groups to share their observations, as well as conduct discussion to enrich one another’s ideas. The mixed-ability grouping facilitates peer learning and provides opportunities for stronger students to support less advanced students in developing a more complex and thorough analysis of the film. The sharing of findings on different aspects also prepares students for writing a more comprehensive analysis. After the lesson, students could be encouraged to do further research and reading on the film outside class.



Suggested points on the three aspects of the film:

Aspects Points/Observations Literary


 The story is set in two polar worlds (the affluent city and the impoverished rural areas) of the Philippines. A sharp contrast is created between lives of people in the city and the rural areas. The beginning scenes are set in the fast food restaurant to show city dwellers’ abundance and wastage of food, while the final scenes are set in the decaying slum area to show the underprivileged families’ shortage of food and how they relish and treasure every bit of the leftover by the city dwellers.

 The laughter and excitement of the slum children in some scenes present an irony (i.e. incongruity and contradiction between what is expected and what actually occurs). The children are overjoyed to see the leftover and dash to the trash. The family even say a prayer to thank God for such treats. Their gratitude for food is a stark contrast to the city dwellers’ disregard for food.

 The key characters in this film are the underprivileged family.

The man who brings refuse food home from the fast food restaurant in the city is the character that takes the audience into the filmic space (i.e. to travel between the two worlds with him). The man supports kids in his village and his family with leftover food from the garbage bins of fast food restaurants. He brings home the leftover, which is the treasure and source of joy to all the children.

 The spectators enter the narrative following the movement of the two girl characters at the beginning and then switch to the man when he enters the story.

 The film draws our attention to the magnitude of hunger and poverty in the world (25,000 of people die every day due to hunger and malnutrition.), as well as the plight of a forgotten portion of society - people who live on the refuse to survive.

 The mood of the film is both sad and hopeful. The song “Let Me Tell Their Story” arouses our sympathy for the underprivileged people, but the smiles and joy on the children’s faces remind us of the hope, positivity and spirituality that never leave these people. The film is



therefore heart-rending, touching and inspiring.

 The film adopts a very realist and documentary style.

Dramatic Aspect

 The way the characters dress (e.g. the trendy clothes of the girls in the city and the shabby worn-out clothes of the kids in the rural areas) shows their different socio-economic backgrounds and reflects the wealth gap between people in the city and the rural areas.

 In the film, very limited speeches and dialogue are used to tell the story, except in the opening restaurant scenes where the young girls place order for the food.

 The rest of the film relies on the body movements and facial expressions of the characters. The absence of speech and reliance on facial expressions and actions enhance the emotional appeal of the film, making it all the more heart-rending and poignant. The shots showing the overjoyed faces of the kids and how they dive excitedly into the bin for the leftover are emotionally gripping and overwhelming. Their contented look with the undesirable food is an irony, as described in the lyrics of the theme song

“Let Me Tell Their Story” – “How can someone’s laughter bring me close to tears”.

Cinematic Aspect

 The film is very realist in style. The camera movement is unsteady, similar to how a documentary is filmed with a handheld camera, making the spectators feel they are with the characters. Spectators seem to be shown the actual daily life of the people in poverty and the characters do not look like they are acting.

 The film uses the contrast of night and day, darkness and light to show the differences between the two worlds (e.g.

the affluent city and the poverty-stricken countryside).

 The close-up of the neon signboards and the dazzling light of the restaurant in the beginning scenes show the sensational bombardment of city life and the proliferation of chained fast food restaurants.

 Music is effectively used to contrast the two worlds. The fast-paced drumming sound is used when featuring the city girls in the fast food restaurants, mystical and spiritual music is used when the man enters the scene to pick out leftover at



the back kitchen. The soundtrack “Let Me Tell Their Story”

played in the later part of the film when the man takes the leftover to his home village is moving and sad, which enhances the mood of the film created by the camera work all along.

 The song “Let Me Tell Their Story” also serves as a voice-over from a narrator/onlooker/observer. The lyrics seem to suggest that the singer observes the sad stories of the poor repeating every day but people do not care or learn any lessons about the poverty and hunger problem. The singer, who acts almost like a witness of the sufferers, expresses pity and endless sadness towards the situation.

As the theme song is central to the message of the short film, teachers might like to go through the lyrics below with the students and discuss the meaning of the song.

Chicken a la Carte by Ferdinand Dimadura

Let me tell their story That no one else can hear How can someone’s laughter Bring me close to tears

And you’ll never know

‘Cause you’re never there After what we’ve seen Can we close our eyes again

Let me tell you their story You won’t think it’s true I have not forgotten So I’m sharing it with you

For all the things we know What have we really learned Though I close my eyes The images remain

And their story begins again



Part 2

“My Shoes” by Nima Raoofi

A. Viewing and Note-taking

“My Shoes”


1. Scan the QR Code on the left with a mobile device or access Nima Raoofi’s short film

“My Shoes” online with the URL provided.

2. Watch the short film once to understand its message and main ideas.

3. Watch the short film again focusing on the set of questions ( Question Set 1 or 2) as assigned by your teacher. Answer the questions by jotting down some points and your observations.

Set 1

1. When and where is this short film set?

2. Who are the main characters in this short film? Briefly describe them.

3. What do you notice about the costumes and make-up of the characters?

4. Comment on the ending of the short film.



5. Choose two memorable shots from the short film and identify the position of the camera in them (i.e. Is the camera put far away/near/high up/down below?).

6. Does the film tell the story and appeal to your emotions effectively? What makes the 3-minute short film powerful?

Set 2

7. What is the main plot of the film?

8. What is the theme or main message of the short film?

9. Are there any objects/images with a symbolic meaning in this short film?

10. Which is the most striking part in this short film?

11. Identify the sounds you hear in the film.

12. Explain how music is used to create the mood and effect with two examples from the film.



B. Discussion and Information Exchange

After finishing Section A, pair up with a classmate answering another set of questions.

Share your answers with each other.

Review the questions above, which can be grouped under the three different aspects of film analysis. Work together with your partner to classify the questions into the respective categories. Some examples have been provided.

Short Films

Literary aspects (about the story)

Cinematic aspects (about camera

and sound effects) Dramatic

aspects (about acting)

e.g. 1

e.g. 3 e.g. 11



C. Close Analysis of Selected Aspects and Scenes

(I) Dramatic Aspects: Costumes and Acting

The way the characters look (e.g. appearance, make-up and hairdo) and dress (i.e.

costumes) reflects their personalities, socio-economic status, as well as cultural and historical backgrounds (particularly in period drama). Characters also express themselves through facial expressions, body movements, speeches/dialogues, which are all parts of the acting.

1. Look at two shots from “My Shoes” below. Describe the two characters’ costumes and acting. Share your answers with your classmates.

Describe his appearance and costumes

What do these features tell you about his socio-economic/family background?

What is he doing in this shot? Who is he speaking to and what is his speech about?

What does his speech tell you about his personality and feelings?

e.g. fluffy hair



Describe his facial expressions

What do his facial expressions tell you about his personality and feelings?

e.g. eyes gazing far away

 Some films rely more on acting (facial expressions, body movements) than speeches or dialogues, but they can be very effective in presenting deep feelings and appealing to audience’s emotions.



(II) Cinematic Aspects: Music and Sound Effects

Sounds in film can be classified into two categories:

 Diegetic sounds refer to the actual sounds from what is happening in the film.

They include :

 voices of characters

 sounds made by objects or actions in the story

 music represented as coming from instruments in the story space

 Non-diegetic sounds refer to sounds coming from a source outside the story space. It includes:

 the narrator’s commentary or voice-over

 sound effects added for dramatic effects

 mood music (e.g. film scores and sound tracks)

Non-diegetic and diegetic sounds are equally important in a film, since diegetic sounds are about what the characters hear and non-diegetic sounds are about what the audience should feel. The interplay between the diegetic and non-diegetic sounds can advance the story and create different moods and effects (e.g. ambiguity in horror films, surprise in comedies).

Of all the non-diegetic sounds, music plays an important role in creating dramatic moments in a film. Music can perform various functions, including:

 Arousing the audience’s emotions (e.g. fear, shock, pity)

 Establishing the setting (e.g. using jazz music to provide the aural backdrop for a film set in the 20th century America)

 Building up the mood and setting the tone of the story (e.g. slapstick humour in physical comedies with comic violence, horror in thrillers, romance in romantic comedies)

 Influencing the audience’s perception of time (e.g. altering the tempo of music to make a 30 second waiting scene painfully long) and space (e.g. using full orchestra music to suggest spatial largeness)

 Facilitating editing (e.g. cutting the scenes according to the rhythm of music) and connecting scenes together (e.g. softening harsh scene changes with music)

 Creating contradictions and parodies (e.g. unexpected music in a romantic scene to show the instability beneath the surface)

 Enhancing plot relationship and linking up the plot (e.g. assigning a leitmotif to a main character with the music recurring in all scenes involving him)



The following are some adjectives that help you describe the music and sound effects in films:

Aspects Adjectives

Genre classical (e.g. Baroque, Romantic), avant-garde, experimental, contemporary (e.g. Jazz, Rock), popular, folk/country

Instrumentation orchestra, solo, piano, violin, percussion, guitar, acoustic, electronic

Melody lyrical, lilting, melodious, repetitive, catchy/memorable, disjointed/fragmented, constantly changing, soft, muted, subdued, ghostly, delicate, loud, intense, powerful, thundering, dramatic, sentimental, relaxed, tense, suspenseful, light-hearted, serious, religious, sad, reflective

Tone dark, light, warm, resonant, velvety, harsh, rough, shrill, piercing, ethereal, breathy, crackling, noisy

Tempo fast, quick, lively, spirited, hurried, rapid, speedy, frantic, moderate, steady, relaxed, slow

Harmony clashing, harmonic, harmonious, discordant, dissonant, cacophonous

Mood epic, tragic, romantic, comical, triumphant, foreboding, ominous, eerie, scary

Changes in rhythm and dynamics of music in films can be expressed with the following verbs:

 The music accelerates/speeds up/gathers momentum/hastens (gets fast) when …

 The music decelerates/slows down/loses momentum/slackens (gets slow) when …

 The music fades in/fades out (gets increasingly loud/soft) when…

 The music softens/wanes/recedes/decreases in volume (gets soft) when …

 The music surges/increases in volume/is amplified (gets loud) when …

2. List the diegetic and non-diegetic sounds you hear in the film “My Shoes”.

Diegetic sounds



Non-diegetic sounds

3. Select two memorable excerpts from the film. Describe how music is used in the selected scenes and explain the functions and effects.

Brief descriptions of the chosen footage

What and how music is used Functions and effects



(III) Cinematic Aspects: Camera Shots

In the discussion of camera shots, the following three factors are considered:

 Length of shots

 Camera angles

 Camera movements

This section will deal with the three factors one by one.

(i) Length of Shots

Camera shots are described based on the length of the shots and the amount of space contained within a frame (which are usually decided by how far the camera is from the subject). Camera shots are used in all forms of visual texts (e.g. photos, postcards and advertisements) for different purposes and effects. They help present the setting, characters and themes and can shape meaning in a film.

Camera shots commonly used in films are identified and briefly explained below:

extreme long long/wide/full medium close-up extreme close-up far (distance of the camera) near

small (size of objects) BIG

 An extreme long shot (also known as an establishing shot) contains a large amount of landscape. It is often used at the beginning of a film/scene to show the background and setting. An extreme wide shot is also useful for capturing actions that are very spread out (e.g. in a war movie to show the scale of the warfare).

 A long shot (sometimes known as a wide shot) contains landscape but gives the viewer a more specific idea of setting. A long shot may show the viewer the building where the action will take place.

 A full shot shows the subject fully. It offers a complete view of the character(s) from head to toe, allowing the viewer to see the whole body and costumes clearly. A full shot may also help demonstrate the relationship between characters through showing their physical positioning in the frame.



 A medium shot (sometimes known as a mid shot or social shot) shows a character/characters from the waist up. The viewer can see the faces and interaction between characters more clearly. A medium shot shows part of the subject in greater detail but still allows the viewer to feel as if they were looking at the whole subject. It is commonly used when the characters are speaking without intense emotions and concentration (e.g. when TV news presenters are providing information or talk show hosts are greeting audience and introducing the interview subjects).

 A close-up (sometimes known as a personal shot) is taken at a very short distance from the subject and permits a close and detailed view of an object or a character. A close-up shows a character’s face only and can capture the character’s facial expressions clearly. It often helps arouse the audience’s empathy for the character.

 An extreme close-up focuses on one part of a character’s face or an object. It helps express strong emotions, create an intense mood and provoke the viewer’s feelings. This kind of shots is also commonly used in horror films to arouse fear.

4. Look at the following shots from “My Shoes”. Identify the type of camera shots used in each shot and explain the effects created.

Shots Descriptions

___________________ is used to ____________________________


(what you see in the scene)

The shot _____________________




(the suggested meaning and/or effects created)



____________________ is used to ____________________________


(what you see in the scene)

The shot _____________________




(the suggested meaning and/or effects created)

____________________ is used to ____________________________


(what you see in the scene)

The shot _____________________




(the suggested meaning and/or effects created)

____________________ is used to ____________________________


(what you see in the scene)

The shot _____________________




(the suggested meaning and/or effects created)



(ii) Camera Angles

Camera angles are decided by the positions where the camera is placed. They are used to give emotional information to viewers, manipulate their perspectives and guide their judgment about the character(s) or object(s) in the shots. Extreme camera angles are often adopted for shots loaded with symbolic meaning to draw viewers’ attention.

Camera angles commonly used in films are identified and briefly explained below:

bird’s eye view high-angle eye-level low-angle

Up (position of the camera) Down

 A bird's-eye view shot (also known as an aerial shot) provides an elevated view of an object from directly above, as if seen from the perspective of a bird in flight. A bird’s eye view is adopted for floor plans and maps (similar to what one sees in Google map). When used in films, it shows a scene from a very unnatural and strange angle, with the audience in a bird’s eye (high above) position, looking down on the characters’ action. Characters may look insignificant, ant-like (as if they were part of a wider scheme of things). It is sometimes used to create a sense of helplessness.

 A high-angle shot is not as extreme and unnatural as a bird's eye view, but it is also taken from a camera positioned above the action. The object(s) and character(s) often get swallowed up by their setting and become part of a wider picture. High-angle shots can make the objects in the frame appear small, short and less significant. It can be used to create a sense of vulnerability when applied with a particular mood and setting.

 An eye-level shot is the most natural and neutral shot with the camera positioned at the subject's height. It is called an eye-level shot because if the character is looking at the lens, he/she does not need to look up or down.

Eye-level shots are most common in films as they put the audience on an equal footing with the character(s) and allow the viewer to feel comfortable with them. Eye-level shots provide the most “real-world” view and show subjects in the way the audience would expect to see them in real life.



 A low-angle shot is taken with the camera placed in a position below and pointing upward at the subject. Contrary to the high-angle shot which makes people look weak and submissive, a low angle shot makes the subject looks big and powerful. It is sometimes used to suggest dominance and aggression.

5. Look at the following shots from “My Shoes”. Identify the camera angles used and explain the effects created.

Shots Descriptions

__________________ is used to ___________________________





__________________ is used to ___________________________





__________________ is used to ___________________________







__________________ is used to ___________________________







(iii) Camera Movements

Camera movements serve many different functions in films. They can alter the relationship between the subject and the camera frame, shape the viewer’s perspective of space and time, control the delivery of narrative information and create expressive effects. As the camera frame orients the viewer’s within the mise-en-scène, camera movements create the illusion of the viewer’s journeying through the world of the narrative and support the advancement of the story.

Types of camera movements are distinguished by direction and the equipment used to achieve motion. Camera movements commonly used in films are identified and briefly explained below:

 A pan is a camera movement in which the camera scans a scene left and right on a horizontal axis. This swivelling camera movement is often used to give the viewer a panoramic view of the setting to help establish a scene.

 A tilt is a camera movement in which the camera scans a scene up and down on a vertical axis. This is similar to nodding one’s head up and down.

Panning and tilting are two most basic camera movements. Both involve the rotation of the camera while it is attached to a fixed stand.

 A dolly/tracking shot involves the camera travelling forward, backward, from side to side, diagonally or in a circle generally following a moving figure/object.

A dolly involving motion left or right is also known as a trucking shot. A dolly is often created with the camera mounted on a moving vehicle (e.g. a cart or even a shopping trolley) and moving alongside the action. Complicated dolly shots involve a track being laid on set for the camera to follow, hence the name

“tracking’. While a pan or a tilt reveals what one might see when standing still and rotating one’s head, a dolly/tracking shot provides the impression of actually advancing into space. A dolly shot can give the viewer a detailed tour of a situation. It is also an effective way to portray movement and the journey of a character.

 A pedestal shot (or a ped movement) means moving the camera vertically with respect to the subject. This is often referred to as "pedding" the camera up or down. A ped is different from a tilt. The camera tilts the angle of view up and



down in the same position in a tilt, but the whole camera is moving, not just the angle of view, in a ped movement.

 A crane shot (also known as a boom or jib shot) is like the dolly shot in the air taken with a camera mounted on a crane or jib. The crane enables the camera to move very high and then swoop back down to the ground. Crane shots are most frequently used to show the actions from above, or to signify the end of a scene/film.

 A zoom is technically not a camera movement as it does not require the camera itself to move at all. Zooming means altering the focal length of the lens to give the illusion of moving closer to or further away from the action. While zooming is effectively magnifying a part of the image, moving the camera creates a difference in perspective — background objects appear to change in relation to foreground objects. Zooming can be used to add interest to a shot, for example, a quick zoon can add energy to a fast-paced action film. It can also be used in combination with dollying to create a dolly zoom (i.e. the camera angle is pulled away from a subject while the lens zooms in, or vice versa, to keep the subject the same size in the frame throughout) that can cause an unsettling effect and undermine normal visual perception.

6. Watch the three excerpts from “My Shoes”. Describe the camera movement in each and the purpose(s) /effect(s) achieved.

Duration Camera movement and the purpose(s)/effect(s) 0:13-0:25





(IV) Cinematic Aspects: Editing

Editing is the coordination of one shot with the next shot. It serves the following main purposes:

 It controls the speed at which events move along and the duration of a shot, thus also the pace and mood of the film. In general, the longer the shot duration, the slower the pace of the film.

 It determines the order and amount of information the viewer receives about the plot and narrative. Some editing gives the viewer access to bits of information important to subsequent events while some withhold information to surprise the audience.

 It manipulates the viewer’s feeling towards the events and characters. For example, showing a couple talking in a two-shot may create more intimate feelings than showing their conversation in a shot reserve shot.

Editing is an attempt to establish connection and meaningful relationships between shots. Below are four kinds of relationships considered by the editor in the editing process:

 Graphic relations between shots – This is most obvious in a “graphic match”, where an editor links two visually similar shots that show different things together. For example, in the film Aliens (James Cameron, 1986), the curve of a character’s face is matched with the curve of the Earth’s surface. Graphic editing invites the comparison of pictorial qualities from shot to shot.

 Rhythmic relations between shots – This is common in music videos, where shots are often “cut to the beat,” with the rhythm of the music determining the timing of the edits.

 Spatial relations between shots – This is often seen when two points in space are juxtaposed through editing to imply some kind of relationship between the two shots/scenes.

 Temporal relations between shots – This is most common in narrative filmmaking, where editing allows the filmmaker to control the flow of the story as it moves forward or backward in time.

The following are two major editing styles and conventions:

 Continuity editing (also known as classical editing) aims at hiding (or at least



minimising) the shift from one cut to the next, making the edit as unnoticeable as possible to create a seamless chain of events. Commercial films (e.g.

Hollywood cinema) tend to adopt continuity editing to present a smoother narrative transition and create a logical flow that enables the viewer to suspend disbelief and follow easily.

 Montage editing (also known as the Soviet montage or Kuleshov effect) highlights the power of editing to alter the perception of the subject. Montage editing usually involves the splicing together of a series of shots filmed out of sequence in different times and places. It is characterised by jumbled narratives, abrupt cuts and the juxtaposition and joining together of seemingly unrelated shots. Contrary to continuity editing, montage editing makes the cut conspicuous and noticeable, thus serving to remind the audience that the film is a fictive space rather than a representation of reality. Montage editing solicits the viewer’s intellectual participation as the viewer has to play an active role in piecing the shots together to work out the meaning of the film.

Below are some common film editing terms and techniques:

 Fades – darkening gradually the end of a shot to black (i.e. a fade-out) or lightening a shot from black (i.e. a fade-in)

 Dissolves – superimposing the end of Shot A and the beginning of Shot B to allow the disappearing image to linger

 Wipes – Shot B replacing Shot A by means of a boundary line moving quickly across the screen

 Cuts – the most common edit involving splicing together two shots.

Cuts can be broken down further into different types, for example:

 A jump cut is a sudden and often jarring cut from one shot to another (usually involving two sequential shots of the same subject taken from slightly different camera positions) to create the effect of jumping forward in time. This kind of shots communicates the passing of time abruptly compared to other editing techniques like a dissolve.

 A cross-cut is the cutting between actions in two different locations that are occurring simultaneously to draw parallels or contrasts between them.

 A match cut carries over visual or audio elements from one shot to another to make the edit natural and invisible. Match cuts help establish a logical flow and maintain temporal and spatial continuity between disparate shots.

It is a technique commonly used in continuity editing to present a smoother narrative transition.



There are three main types of match cuts:

 A graphic match uses a visual element (such as a shape of an object) in one shot and carries it over to another shot. A typical example is the opening scene of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), in which the ticking part of the clock is transformed into the streets of Paris. The circular clock centre and straight bars that stretch out in the first shot gradually turn into the round turnabout and straight streets of the city in the next, creating a graphic match.

 A match on action cut (also known as “cutting on action”) refers to cutting from one shot to another that matches the action in the previous shot. The movement of the character(s) of object(s) is carried over from one shot to the next. For example, a shot showing a man walking up to a door and searching for his keys is cut to a shot of the door opening from the other side.

 A sound bridge uses an audio and sound element from one shot and carries it over to the next shot. For example, in Paul Haggis’ Crash (2004), the door slamming sound is used to connect the stories of two different characters. When the door slams in one scene, it wakes up the character in the next scene.

 A shot reverse shot is another editing technique commonly used for editing dialogue sequences. In a shot reverse shot, one character is shown facing one direction in the first shot and another character is shown facing the opposite direction in the next shot. Since the characters are shown facing in opposite directions, the viewer assumes that they are looking at, talking and responding to each other.

7. Choose two segments from “My Shoes”. Identify the editing techniques used and the purpose(s)/effect(s) achieved:

Duration Editing techniques used and the purpose(s)/effect(s) achieved



8. Which editing style does “My Shoes” adopt – continuity editing or montage editing? Explain your answer.









PART 2 – TEACHER’S NOTES A. Viewing and Note-taking

Short films are good for introducing basic viewing skills as they are often condensed and concise. Their short length also facilitates re-playing for a focused examination and detailed analysis. The film chosen for this activity lasts for only three minutes.

Teachers may play it in class or ask students to view it at home.

Two sets of questions are provided for students in this activity. Before viewing the short film, teachers can assign half the class to work on Set 1 questions and the other half to work on Set 2 questions. Alternatively, teachers can ask students to form pairs and decide with their partners which set of questions they each will work on.

Remind students that:

 More critical, analytical and reflective viewing is expected in this task, which is different from viewing for leisure and entertainment.

 They should read the questions before viewing and give more attention to the details in the viewing process with the questions in mind.

 They may focus on understanding the content of the film in the first viewing and then the audio-visual effects and cinematic techniques in the second viewing.

 Only brief notes and key words are required for the answers, mainly to facilitate oral sharing in class.

Teaching Suggestions to Cater for Learner Diversity

Supporting the less advanced students

Teachers may put students in groups of four and assign each student to be responsible for three questions only.

Where necessary, the table used in Section C of Part 1 for note-taking can be re-used to help students focus on different aspects of the film in each viewing.

What happens in the clip (Focus in the first viewing)

Audio-visual effects (Focus in the second viewing)

 



 

Students can then complete the questions assigned based on their memory and notes.

Alternatively, students could be asked to focus on the story and arrange the following sentences into a logical plot sequence after the first viewing:

No. Events

6 The poor boy wishes that he could be the other boy.

9 The grandmother approaches with a wheelchair.

4 The two boys meet and they sit at the opposite ends of the bench.

8 With the new body, the rich boy is overjoyed, laughing and running around in the park.

2 The poor boy wanders back and forth in the park.

1 A poor boy who wears a pair of torn sneakers is teased by his peers in a park.

7 His wish is somehow granted. The poor boy switches his body with the rich one.

3 A rich boy with a pair of new sneakers sits on the bench.

10 The poor boy learns of his physical condition and cries.

5 The poor boy is filled with jealousy. He walks away.

They will then be asked to note the audio visual effects that go with each stage of the plot in the second viewing.

As this activity mainly serves as a warm-up to provide opportunities for students to view critically and share their responses to the film with their peers, detailed answers to the questions are not expected. Students will be guided to explore different aspects of this film in greater detail through the remaining activities and they will gradually develop responses of greater complexity.

Below are some suggested answers to the two sets of questions. Any other reasonable answers should be accepted.

Set 1

1. When and where is this short film set?

In a park (outdoors) at daytime

2. Who are the main characters in Two boys – one wearing worn-out shoes



this short film? Briefly describe them.

(portrayed as with lower socio-economic status), while the other wearing brand new shoes (portrayed as from an affluent family) 3. What do you notice about the

costumes and make-up of the characters?

The way the two boys dress, especially the shoes they wear, highlights their difference in socio-economic status and family background. The costumes help establish a sharp contrast between the two characters.

4. Comment on the ending of the short film.

The ending is unpredictable and surprising.

There is a twist as the poor boy and the audience have never expected the cheerful boy with new shoes to be paralysed.

5. Choose two memorable shots from the short film and identify the position of the camera in them (i.e. Is the camera put far away/near/high up/down below?).

Any reasonable answers describing the people/things in the shots and positions of the camera, for example:

 The scene with the rich boy smiling contentedly on the bench – a close-up is used to show his happy face beaming under the sunlight.

 The scene with the poor boy chanting “I want to be like him!” – an extreme close-up is used to focus on his eyes and to highlight his fervent wish and strong desire.

6. Does the film tell the story and appeal to your emotions effectively? What makes the 3-minute short film powerful?

Any reasonable answers, for example:

 The twist – surprise ending

 The use of music

 The message (i.e. never judge others by their appearance and count your own blessings)

 The clever use of symbolism – the two boys are literally and metaphorically in each other’s shoes in the story

Set 2

7. What is the main plot of the film?

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 is



filled with envy and bitterness. He wishes he could be the wealthy boy wearing nice trainers. However, when his wish comes true, he realises that the boy is paralysed and is filled with regret.

8. What is the theme or main message of the short film?


Contentment, appearance vs reality, gratitude/thankfulness


 Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Appearance can be deceptive.

Count our blessings – Be thankful for what we have instead of envying others for what they have.

9. Are there any objects/images with symbolic meanings in this short film?

 The title “My Shoes” carries a hidden meaning. When the boys switch their roles and wear each other’s shoes, they are in each other’s shoes both literally and metaphorically. The poor boy begins to experience life in the rich boy’s position, see things in a different perspective and realises the stark truth.

 The feather from the flying bird that floats in the air may be another image with a symbolic meaning, suggesting the lightness of being and bringing out the poor boy’s aloofness and lack of attachment (no sense of belonging).

10. Which is the most striking part in this short film?

Any reasonable answers, for example:

 The magical moment when the boy’s wish comes true – it is exciting to see the two characters switch their roles.

 The ending – it is a shocking realisation for the boy and a surprise for the audience.

11. Identify the sounds you hear in the film.

People teasing and laughing, birds’ chirping, footsteps, water flowing in the stream under the bridge, sound of the big bird flapping



wings, the frantic cry of the boy (in wild excitement), background music (piano) 12. Explain how music is used to

create the mood and effect with two examples from the film.

Any reasonable answers, for example:

 Slow piano music is used as the background music in the opening scenes to create a sad mood that matches the boy’s dejected heart.

 The pace of the music goes fast when the story reaches its climax (i.e. when the poor boy’s wish is granted and the two boys switch their roles) to build excitement and the audience’s anticipation.

B. Discussion and Information Exchange

Teachers pair up students working on different sets of questions and allow 10 minutes for them to share their answers. As they are sharing, teachers can circulate around the class to look at and listen to students’ answers to gauge their level of understanding. Allow students some time to categorise the questions into three aspects of film analysis.

Short Films

Literary aspects (about the story)

Cinematic aspects (about use of

camera and sound effects) Dramatic

aspects (about acting)

e.g. 5, 6, 11, 12 e.g. 3, 6

e.g. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10



Go through the answers to the two sets of questions and the categorisation diagram with students. Invite some students to share their answers with the class and provide feedback where appropriate. Question 6 in Set 1 encourages students to consider all the aspects in an integrative manner to evaluate the aesthetic achievements and literary merits of a film. Teachers can provide more opportunities for students to express their personal responses in class regarding this item.

C. Close Analysis of Selected Aspects and Scenes

As most students find the literary aspects of a film quite manageable with the experience gained from studying other literary genres, the focus of this part is on the dramatic and cinematic aspects. Basic concepts and terms for discussing cinematic techniques are to be introduced to students in the context of the chosen short film.

Given that a single film, particularly a short one like “My Shoes”, can only feature a limited range of cinematic techniques, students are encouraged to extend their viewing experience beyond this to films of different directors, genres and subgenres, as well as films from different periods in film history to broaden their repertoire of film knowledge. However, the notes and exercises can guide beginners to develop basic knowledge and understanding about the genre systematically, which lays a solid foundation for them to analyse a longer film or the set film in the Literature in English curriculum.



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