Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Elements of Film
Fall 2010
Tom Hammond

This course is an introduction to film analysis and criticism. Being able to identify and interpret the various components of a film is vital to understanding the most important and influential art form of the last century and this one as well. We will watch clips and scenes in class. You will be assigned feature-length films to watch as homework as well as readings from the required text. There will be a class project and an individual project.

Class Blog: http://filmelements.blogspot.com. You will be invited to post on this website.

Instructors Contact Information – phone: 813-900-4759, email: hammontm@eckerd.edu
Face to face meetings can be arranged before or after class.

Required Text:

Louis Giannetti, “Understanding Movies”

Netflix – A monthly subscription is a good idea for the semester. All assigned movies are “streamable” on Netflix. It costs $9 per month and the first month is usually free. You can obtain all the films at the library, but availability might be a problem with 25 students and a limited number of copies on hand. You can rent or buy, but Netflix is easily the most convenient and affordable method. If you subscribe, you can receive the films by mail as well as streaming. Turnaround is about 3 days.

Course Requirements and Grading:

• Attendance & Participation 25% of grade
• Weekly Contribution to Class Project 25% of grade
• Midterm & Final Exam 25% of grade
• Final Project 25% of grade

Attendance & Participation – Every class covers a component of film history, theory and criticism vital to your overall understanding of the subject. If you can’t avoid missing a class, let me know in advance. Any pattern of absence or chronic lateness will be noted and will adversely impact your final grade. Speak up in class. If that is difficult for you, bring in something that will inspire discussion. The Blog is a component of participation. Contributing to it will generate interest in the class and good grades for you.

Class Project – We will assemble and complete a Film Glossary in this class. You will be given a terminology handout every week. What definitions we don’t cover in class, you will supply at home and turn in at the next session. I will make selections from this work and post it on the blog. Examples through still images, videos and sound clips should be part of this project wherever appropriate. By the end of the Semester we will have compiled a comprehensive and, hopefully, entertaining presentation on film and filmmaking terminology.

Mid-Term & Final Exams – You are responsible for knowing the vocabulary defined in our Class Project, the content of the assigned readings, and being familiar with class and required viewings. The exams will be a combination of objective and short essay questions.

Final Project – You will create and present to the class, a story told in pictures. You will take 12 photos (no more, no less) that tell a story or convey an idea. If you wish to shoot a video project, you must limit yourself to 12 shots (4 minutes or less total combined running time). Either way, the project must be done with a CAMERA. Whether photos or video, music can be added but not dialog or narration. You should employ as many of the ideas and techniques we have covered in class as is possible or feasible. You will present your work to the class on the final day and be prepared for a short Q&A/critique. A paper (1000 words minimum) explaining your choices will be due at the same time.

Academic Integrity – If you use an idea from another source, you can quote it or paraphrase it, but please CITE IT. Failure to do so will be a violation of the Honor Code.

The Eckerd College Honor Code: “On my honor, as an Eckerd College student, I pledge not to lie, cheat or steal, nor to tolerate these behaviors in others.”

To affirm this, you will write, “Pledged” followed by your signature on all assignments, papers and exams.

Assignment Schedule:
• All readings are chapters in the required text, “Understanding Movies” by Louis Gannetti.
• Assigned Viewings are films you are required to see outside of class (all “streamable” on Netflix).
• In class we will watch scenes and clips from various movies and documentary material on filmmaking. Much of this will also be posted on the Blog for your further study.
• The completed handout on the Class Project from the week before is due at every class session.

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Photography
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 1
Assigned Viewing: “Metropolis” (1927), “The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari”
Class Project: completed handout due
Week 3: Mise en Scene
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 2
Assigned Viewing: “The Seventh Seal”, “Eraserhead”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 4: Movement
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 3
Assigned Viewing: “The Hidden Fortress”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 5: Editing
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 4
Assigned Viewing: “Battleship Potemkin”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 6: Sound
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 5
Assigned Viewing: “M”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 7: Acting – MIDTERM EXAM
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 6
Assigned Viewing: “On the Waterfront”, “The Passion of Joan of Arc”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 8: Drama
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 7
Assigned Viewing: “Ikuru”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 9: Story
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 8
Assigned Viewing: “8 ½”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 10: Literature
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 9
Assigned Viewing: “Shoot the Piano Player”, “The Killing”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 11: Ideology
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 10
Assigned Viewing: “The Third Man”, “The Battle of Algiers”
Class Project: completed handout due

Week 12: Theory
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 11
Assigned Viewing: “The Seven Samurai”
Class Project: completed handout due – last in the series

Week 13: Thanksgiving – no class

Week 14: Synthesis – FINAL EXAM
Reading: Giannetti, Chapter 12
Assigned Viewing: “Citizen Kane”, “Touch of Evil”
Individual Project Presentations due


In the event of an emergency or campus shutdown, class work will continue online at:


You will be invited to contribute as a blog correspondent at the beginning of the semester. This is part of the participation segment of your grade and the location for all information if class can’t be held as scheduled. Assignments will be posted there as well as suggested readings. Video lectures will be available if a shutdown continues for more than one week. You may also post any written assignments on the blog or send them to my email at:


You can contact me by phone at: 813-900-4759

Be sure to review the school handout on procedure in the event of a hurricane.

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