You will select either (2) two films or (2) two or more television episodes and will write a
formal analysis in how choices in mise-en-scène — composition, camera movement, lighting, editing, sound,
performance, dialogue, and/or narrative structure — contribute to our understanding of character(s) and the
notion of what “being human” means in each film or television program’s respective genre(s).You may use any scenes that you deem necessary to make your argument. Papers
must be a minimum of 1,750 words and should be about 7 pages overall. There is no maximum, but I generally
recommend no more than 2,000 words. Please be sure to hit the word count, not page count.
Purpose of assignment: Writing a film[/tv] analysis requires a thorough understanding of not only the scene(s) you
choose to dissect, but also the overall film, [play, or television series]. Scenes need to move the story forward and
reveal information about the characters. When you break a scene [down], you uncover the writer’s [or director’s]
intention as well as how the work resonates with you (from The Pen & the Pad website). The purpose of this
assignment is to expand your understanding of how [media] constructs meaning using both traditional narrative as
well as iconic representations presented through images and sounds (from Prof. Sean M. Donnell’s website).
Please consult the film and television glossary for detailed descriptions of cinematic terms. Generally, I should see
references to some of the following:
• Dramatic and Narrative Structure, Storytelling and Character, Visual Media Grammar, Shots/Composition,
Camera Movements, Lighting, Editing, Time, and Sound terms from the glossary
• Scene — A dramatic unit composed of a single or several shots. A scene usually takes place in a
continuous time period, in the same setting, and involves the same characters.
• Shot — Those images that are recorded continuously from the time the camera starts to the time it stops;
that is, an unedited, uncut strip of film.
o Types of shots: Close-Up (CU), Cutaway, Establishing or Master Shot, Extreme Close-Up (ECU),
Extreme Long Shot (ELU), Eye-level Shot, Full Shot, High-angle Shot, Long Shot (LS), Low-angle
Shot, Medium Shot (MS), Over-the-Shoulder Shot, Overhead Shot/Bird’s Eye View, Point-of-view
Shot (POV), Reaction Shot, Reverse Angle Shot, Three-Shot Two-Shot
• Mise-en-scène — The arrangement of visual compositional elements and movements within a given
space. It is defined by the frame that encloses the image. Cinematic mise-en-scène encompasses both the
staging of the action and the way it’s photographed. From Andrew Sarris: “I would suggest a definition of
mise-en-scène that includes all the means available to a director to express his attitude toward his
subject. This takes in cutting, camera movement, pacing, the direction of players and their placement in
the decor, the angle and distance of the camera, and even the content of the shot. Mise-en-scène as an
attitude tends to accept the cinema as it is and enjoy it for what it is — a sensuous conglomeration of all
the other arts.”
• Cut — The simplest, most common transitional device in which the last frame of one shot is spliced to the
first frame of the next.
Recommend Steps to Help You Devise Your Thesis:
• Step 1: Select a few scenes from each film or television episode – View each scene and select those that,
in your view, are the most poignant of the film or television program.
• Step 2: Take notes on every individual shot in each scene – Now watch the scene a few times and take
detailed notes. First, take notes on the elements that comprise the scene, shot by shot. For every shot,
make notes about the composition, camera movements, lighting, production or costume design, and use
of sound (narration, dialogue, sound effects, ambience, music, etc.). Watch the scene again and observe
the shot transitions themselves: how do the shots transition? Are they straight cuts, dissolves, nearly
• Step 3: Develop your thesis and get it very specific – Explain how the selected scenes are relevant to the
entire story. What is it about this scene and what we learn about the character(s) that helps us to
formulate an understanding and meaning behind the work as a whole? Make sure to very briefly set up
the scene you will analyze after stating your thesis so that the reader can understand it in the larger
context of the entire narrative. But, avoid extensive plot summary. How to write a killer thesis statement:
• Step 4: Write your analysis of these scenes in a formal, academic style to prove your thesis. Make sure
that the point of your thesis considers these works for their visual styles and approaches to storytelling
from the perspective of their respective genre(s).
• Papers must be a minimum of 1,750 words and should be about 7 pages overall. There is no maximum,
but I generally recommend no more than 2,000 words. Please be sure to hit the word, not page, count.
• Spend time working on your thesis statement and keep the focus very narrow. What are you proposing
about these films or television program? What is the big question you are trying to answer in analyzing
these scenes and why is it important (explain to your reader)? What argument are you making in a very
specific way with regard to how production choices convey information about the character(s) in this
scene? Why is this scene important above all others in how it gives meaning to the larger narrative
through this character study? How do some of the cinematic choices tie in to the visual style and
iconography associated with their categorical genre?
• Split up your analysis into easily digestible sections: ½-1 page introduction to your topic; 5-6 pages
deconstructing the scenes or themes you have chosen with only a few focused choices in specifying types
of shots, patterns in mise-en-scène, and/or editing techniques being analyzed; ½-1 page for conclusion.
• For your introductory paragraph, be sure to create a good lead in to your topic so the reader can follow.
• Make sure you begin each paragraph with a topic sentence (basically, what you are about to analyze).
How to write a topic sentence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmnUwvZAMjQ.
• Make sure the end of your prior paragraph connects to the ideas in the subsequent start of the next
paragraph you present. This leads to a good, logical flow. How to develop good paragraph structure:
• Include at least three (3) terms from the Sikov reading(s) within your analysis. It is required to connect
your analysis with the assigned readings.
• Be sure to properly refer to the specific cinematic terms you are analyzing in the scene. Utilize the film/tv
glossary and readings as an aid.
• Write using present tense and keep it consistent.
• Do not use personal pronouns that express your direct personal opinion, such as I, me, my. Revise your
text to keep the analysis formal in tone while still stating your opinion. How to keep writing formal:
• Do not use such phrases like, “the director did a fantastic, incredible, phenomenal job…”.
• Keep any synopsis or summary of a scene to an absolute bare minimum of only what you need to set up
for the reader.
• Formatting for papers: 1” margins, double-spaced, use 12pt as maximum for typeface; include your name,
paper title, and page numbers (no fancy cover pages or 3” headers).
• Although you are not required to use outside research for these papers, my preference is for you to use
the MLA (Modern Languages Association) style for citation and bibliographic formatting. If you are more
familiar with another style, it’s ok but just be sure to cite using that style properly and consistently.
• You should include a bibliography that includes the films and/or television programs you cited in your
analysis. Because there are many remakes and reboots of media, knowing which version you are analyzing
is crucial. MLA style and citations guides are on Blackboard but here’s a quick rundown:
o Film title in-text citation: Example – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
o Film title works cited page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG7deBcuAdo
o TV program in-text citation (refer to the title of the episode): Example – In Star Trek’s “Where
No Man Has Gone Before…”
o TV program works cited page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJnRgqVyLFY
• If you opt to quote from one of the class readings or another outside source, please also include them in a
bibliography. If you quote from print sources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTaUHS1mnvw or
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M0F1rOnFUY (both involve MLA and APA styles).
• If you wish to quote from a film or television episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_OVsOnR1pI.
• When referring to the “author” of media, please use the entirety of the director’s name initially.
Thereafter, just use their last name. Do not use their first name.
• You may incorporate photos as a shot by shot analysis. If you do, please include them as an appendix at
the end of your paper (any text offered in the appendix does not count in your word count).
• Remember, writing is a process, and a very creative one at that. Treat it as the creative endeavor it is
Selected films are Snowpiercer (2013) and Get Out (2017). Please follow instructions carefully, NO plagiarism , no other external ones other than the Film and TV glossary.
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