The following is one in a series of simple exercises to encourage film students thinking about the mechanics of film making, and reflecting on creative choices made by film makers as conscious and intentional.
My intention is that these exercises slot into the first semester of IB Film. Hopefully they will be a useful resource towards discussions leading to production portfolios, oral presentation and introducing the basic idea of supporting analytical ideas with actual examples of film language, the lingua franca of the independent study

Shot selections and film makers’ intentions

While shot selections are seldom made in isolation from others in a sequence, the linear nature of film making means that certain shots are chosen with clear intention for how they will impact on audiences.

Indeed it is a key characteristic of the continuity system and how pervasive it has become is that audiences are ‘educated’ to respond to particular shots in certain ways, for example; a BCU (or ECU) is an invitation for audiences to scrutinise a character’s motivation or their responses to event represented just prior.

For this exercise provide the following;

  1. choose a minimum of two different shot selections from two different movies you know. provide the stills as well.
  2. Explain what the film makers’ intention were for the shot selection made, you may need to set your example in the context of preceding or following shot if you wish.
  3. Find a shot selection which subverts the audience expectation (as would be expected in the continuity system) and to explain why this shot was chosen and why the film makers wish to surprise audiences or make them feel uneasy.