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Crash Course Film Making

Welcome to Crash Course Film Making! This 9-week course (one quarter of a school year, or 45 days) is intended to help you get an overview of the film making process including jobs in the field, equipment that is used, film making terminology, and more!

The final project is to create a short film. This project can be done with whatever video production, camera, and computer equipment is available to you. If you truly do not even have a cell phone camera you can use to make a film, you can substitute planning and storyboarding to still get

(It is recommended to combine this class with Crash Course Film History to make a full semester class.)

Day 1

1. Watch the video preview of this course. What aspect of film making are you most interested in?

Day 2

1. Watch the video about screenplays.
2. Create a document and title it “Careers in Film Making.” Go through the video and write down the jobs that are listed, along with a brief description of what they do. (Example: Location Scout – finds places to film a scene.)

Day 3*

1. Let’s take a closer look at screenplays. What are the three main components of a screenplay? (If you need a refresher, refer to yesterday’s video.)
2. Print this sample screenplay page. Mark the slugline in red, the action in yellow, and the dialogue in blue.
3. Convert a scene from a movie to a page of screenplay. You can use this scene or choose your own. Remember, you don’t need to write about each shift of a foot or swipe of a sword. For a screenplay, it’s okay to just say, “They fight.”
Formatting tips: Screenplays are written in size 12 Courier font. Try formatting it like the sample page you printed.

Day 4

1. Create a new document titled “Film Making Terms.” Add the term ‘screenplay’ to your document and write down what it means. (Check out the definition here.)
2. Review the section of the video about the three main things that movies tend to focus on. (Watch until at least 3:50.)
3. Choose three movies that you know well and try to identify the protagonist, their goal, and the obstacle standing in their way.

Day 5

1. Time to move ahead! Watch the Crash Course video about pitching and pre-production.
2. So many more jobs were mentioned in this video! Add as many as you can to your “Careers in Film Making” document and write what they do. (I counted at least 10.) It’s okay if you only have a vague idea of what they do, there will be more details in future classes.

Day 6

1. A lot of new terms were thrown at you in this segment. Open your document “Film Making Terms” and add the following terms to your list. Refer to yesterday’s video and write a definition for each term.

  • pitch
  • logline
  • comparisons
  • pre-production
  • cast
  • crew
  • locations
  • breakdown
  • shooting schedule
  • call sheet

Day 7

1. Rewatch the section of the video about loglines.
2. Choose three movies that you know well and write a logline for each.
3. Read this scene, “Superhero Support Group.”
4. Go through the scene and create a breakdown of everything you would need. Write down every part that needs an actor, every costume, prop, or piece of the set that you would need to create this scene.

Day 8

1. Watch the video about the film maker’s army. There are a LOT of jobs listed here, so you might want to have your document, “Careers in Film Making,” open at the same time to take notes.
2. Today your job is to list every department that was discussed in the video in your “Careers in Film Making” document. We’ll come back tomorrow and fill in the individual jobs.

Day 9

1. Go back over yesterday’s video and add each individual job underneath the department it belongs in. (Don’t forget to add a brief description of the job’s responsibilities for each one.) Take the jobs you’ve already written about and move them to the departments they belong in.
2. Now that you’ve had a brief look at a bunch of different film making jobs, consider which ones you are most interested in learning more about!

Day 10

1. Watch the video about cameras.
2. Create a document titled “Camera Terminology” and define the following terms:

  • camera
  • lens
  • focal length
  • prime lens
  • zoom lens
  • field of view
  • aperture
  • shutter speed
  • shutter angle
  • film gate
  • CMOS sensor
  • CCD
  • ISO
  • media
  • codec

Day 11

1. Go back over the section of the video about the camera department. (Watch until 6:06.) Add any jobs that you do not have already to your document “Careers in Film Making,” and add more detail to the ones you already have listed.
2. Add the following words to your “Camera Terminology” document and define them. Don’t forget: they are explained further on in the video.

  • shot list
  • static shot
  • tripod
  • handheld camera
  • dolly
  • steadicam
  • pan
  • push
  • pull
  • tracking shot

Day 12*

1. Print a copy of the shot list template. If you need more room later, print a second page. Today you are going to create a simple shot list from a scene that has already been filmed. You can use this scene or choose your own.
2. Shot sizes include:

  • establishing shot (a shot of a location at the beginning of a scene to establish where the scene takes place before moving to a smaller set)
  • extreme wide shot (EWS) (a shot where your subject is very small against a larger background)
  • wide shot (WS) (a shot that shows your subject in their environment, with space above and below them)
  • full shot (FS) (a shot which fills the frame with your subject head to toe)
  • medium shots (MS) (a shot that shows about half of your subject, usually waist up or so)
  • close up (CU) (shots that focus on your character’s face)
  • extreme close ups (ECU) (shots that focus on just a part of a face, like the eyes, or are zoomed in very far on a very small thing)

3.Scroll down to see examples of these types of shots, as well as a couple we didn’t mention.
4. Movement refers to pan, tilt, push, pull, tracking, and static (or sometimes, there are special shots that might appear like barrel rolls). You can make a note if you think the camera was handheld, steadicam, or on a dolly.
5. Put what is happening in the shot in the ‘description’ section. It may be one line of dialogue, or a whole conversation. Remember: each time the camera ‘cuts’ or switches from one thing to another, you are using a different shot.
6. Hint for people using the selected scene: a low-angle medium shot might not show someone’s face.

Day 13

1. Watch the video about sound production.
2. Add any members of the sound department that you didn’t get before to your document “Careers in Film Making” and add details about their roles.

Day 14

1. Create a new document titled “Sound Production Terms” and define the following:

  • wild sound
  • room tone
  • boom pole
  • lavalier mic
  • windscreen
  • soundstage
  • shotgun mic
  • foley
  • score

2. What important purpose does the slate serve?

Day 15

1. Today watch the video about producers.
2. Add any specifically listed production roles to your “Careers in Film Making” document.
3. What are reasons someone might get a producer credit?

Day 16

1. Watch the video about the director.
2. Create a new document and write a paragraph about the role of a director in film making. Be sure to answer these questions:

  • What are the two big questions a director asks?
  • How does the director work with the location, art, wardrobe, hair/makeup, and effects departments to determine the look and feel of the film?
  • What job does the director have in post production?

Day 17

1. Watch the video about the cinematographer.
2. Carefully go through the video and add any jobs you don’t have listed yet to “Careers in Film Making.” Be sure to add a description to each one! If more information is available about jobs you previously included, add it to the listing.

Day 18

1. Create a document titled “Lighting Terms”. Referring to yesterday’s video, define the following terms. (Also, make a note of any special benefit or drawback of specific lighting equipment.)

  • fresnel lights
  • fluorescent lights
  • led lights
  • incandescent lights
  • HMI lights
  • key light
  • fill light
  • back light
  • practical lights
  • contrast

Day 19

1. Watch the video about creating the world of a film.
2. What does mise en scène mean?
3. Add more detail to the careers listed in this video in your document, “Careers in Film Making.” Be sure to add any careers you don’t have yet!

Day 20

Movie day! Today all you have to do is watch some features about the work that goes into creating the costumes, makeup, and sets for a movie.

Day 21

1. Watch the video about grip and electric.
2. Do you need to add any of these occupations to your “Careers in Film Making” document? Be sure to add any extra details about their jobs that this video provides.

Day 22

1. Open your document, “Lighting Terms”. Refer to yesterday’s video. Add and define the following terms:

  • color temperature
  • warm light
  • cool light
  • Kelvin color temperature scale
  • gels
  • bounce board
  • c-47s
  • flag/cutter
  • floppy
  • diffusion
  • scrim
  • silks
  • black wrap/cinefoil
  • striking
  • points

Day 23

1. Watch the video about special effects.
2. Do you have the Visual Effects Supervisor listed in your document, “Careers in Film Making”? Be sure to add them and their duties.
3. Then add all of the various Special Effects artists that are listed. Be sure to add one called ‘other artists’ and list the things they might specialize in, from rendering to combining elements.

Day 24

1. The three main types of effects are mechanical/practical, optical, and computer generated imagery. Write a paragraph explaining the differences between them.
2. Create a document titled “SFX Terms.” (SFX is an abbreviation for special effects.) In that document, list and briefly define the terms below.

  • optical printing
  • garbage matte
  • plate
  • compositing
  • scale models
  • miniatures
  • forced perspective
  • rotoscoping
  • stop motion
  • key framing

Day 25

Movie day! Time to watch some videos specifically about creating special effects.

Day 26

1. Watch the video about the editor.
2. What are the six priorities they listed for deciding where to cut in a scene? Why do you think emotion is a bigger priority than story?

Day 27

1. Create a document titled ‘Editing Terms.’ Write a paragraph explaining the difference between linear (or destructive) editing and non-linear (or non-destructive) editing.
2. Next, list and briefly define the following terms:

  • assembly cut
  • rough cut
  • fine cut
  • final/locked cut

Day 28

1. Watch the videos below. (You don’t need to watch the outro.) How did editing change the apparent genre of the films?

Day 29

1. Watch the video about marketing.
2. Write a paragraph about the difference between a theatrical release and a movie released on cable tv, paid streaming services, and free video platforms. Why might someone choose to release their movie in these different ways?

Day 30

1. Create a document titled ‘Marketing Terms.’ In it, list and briefly define the following:

  • one sheet
  • tagline
  • trailer
  • product placement
  • prints and advertising

2. The trailer of a movie helps the audience know what to expect when they go to see it. Compare the trailers for “Thor” and “Thor: Ragnarok” with a critical eye. What is the audience being promised? What are the biggest differences between the movies that are being signaled?

Day 31

1. Choose a movie or tv show that you know well and design a poster to advertise it. (Don’t look at the official poster for the movie until after you have designed yours.) What elements do you think you should include? What images would you focus on?
2. Compare your poster design to the official poster for that movie. What choices did the marketing team make that were different than yours? Why do you think they did that?

Day 32

1. Watch the video about film school. If you want to pursue film production as a career, you need to make a plan and choose a path forward. What do you think? Do you want to go to film school, or study independently? Think about it, and talk it over with your parents or teachers.

Day 33

1. Watch the video about television production.
2. Write a paragraph about the differences between broadcast networks, basic cable, premium cable, and streaming services.

Day 34

1. Create a document titled “Television Production Terms.” In it, list and define the following:

  • scripted content
  • unscripted content
  • ratings
  • first-run episodes
  • re-runs
  • syndication
  • showrunner
  • single camera show
  • three camera show

Day 35

Today you are going to begin your final project – a short film (not longer than about 5 minutes). You will have 11 days to complete it. For today, begin planning your film. Assess what equipment and assistance you have available to you. Most people will have access to at least a cell phone with a camera they can use to film; if you do not have access to a camera, you may complete your project by creating a screenplay and storyboard instead.

Things to consider:

  • What genre will my film be? (documentary? comedy sketch? drama?)
  • What will my subject be? (Will I need actors or will I be telling of the rivalry between two rocks?)
  • Where will I get my script? You can write something original or take a scene from a Shakespeare play – you can even try unscripted content if you have an idea for that. For this project you can also try to copy a scene from a movie or tv show.
  • Who will do the filming? Who will do the acting? You can do either, or both if you have somewhere to set up the camera and film yourself.
  • What editing capabilities do you have? Do you have access to a computer with basic video editing software, or are you limited to what you can do on a phone? Planning ahead will help you choose a film style that you can actually execute.

Day 36

1. Write a logline for your film.
2.. Begin creating your screenplay. If you are going to film something unscripted, then write down your general plan. If you are adapting a script or scene you have gotten from somewhere else, begin making the changes to make it fit your project. Remember, a screenplay is more than a script – it includes locations, action, and props that are needed. (Go back to Day 3 if you have forgotten what that looks like.)

Day 37

1. Continue working on your screenplay. Consider the locations, props, and costumes you have available to you while you are writing! It’s okay to make changes so that it will work with your resources.

Day 38

1. Finalize your screenplay today.

Day 39

1. Go through your screenplay and create a breakdown for it. See how many of the props, costumes, and materials you can assemble today.

Day 40

1. Begin filming. (If you do not have a camera, begin storyboarding the shots.)

Day 41

1. Continue filming if necessary. Once you have finished filming, begin the editing process.

Day 42

1. Continue editing. Add music if desired.

Day 43

1. Complete the final cut of your film.

Day 44

1. Create marketing materials for your film. This can be a poster, a trailer, or perhaps a thumbnail. Create a tagline!

Day 45

1. Have a screening where you show your film to family members or friends. (Or, present your storyboard.) Congratulations! You have made a film!