Assigment #4 for October 6th

Reading Assignment: Chapter 7-8.

Movie Watching Assignment:

Fireproof (2008) – Kirk Cameron

East of Eden (1955) – James Dean

North by Northwest (1959) – Gary Grant (Download script here)

Script final draft must be ready.


The Suspense Genre: Alfred Hitchcock

The jowly Brit with the morbid wit made dozens of films, hardly a misfire among them. Alfred Hitchcock all but inventedHitchProfile the suspense genre, hosted a wildly popular TV anthology series, and is generally revered as one of the greatest creative minds in the history of the movies.

Recurring Hitchcock Themes:

Throughout a career spanning a half-century, Hitchcock sounded the same themes again and again: Mistaken identity. Innocents falsely accused. Ordinary people thrust into extraordinary predicaments. People who are not what they seem to be. Trust and betrayal. Hair-breadth escapes. Perfect crimes and double-crosses.

In just about every Hitchcock film there’s a central couple — lovers who turn out to be either very good for each other or very, very bad. There’s usually a gorgeous blonde who rescues a great guy from a tough spot; sometimes it’s a bad guy with an idea for the perfect crime; and often, bumbling policemen after the wrong man.

There are always moments of macabre humor, and lots of playful sexual tension and teasing – along with darker explorations of the unsettling relationship between violence and sex.

Thrills and Chills:

Hitchcock knew that the suspense is generated when the audience can see danger his characters cannot see, or can only suspect. He once said, “There’s no terror in the bang of the gun, only the anticipation of it.” And while his later films grew more graphic (and less effective), his earlier work could create vivid terror in the mind of the viewer with very little spatter on the screen.

Hitchcock’s Silent Films:

The director started out in 1919 as a designer of title cards for silent films. His work on an unsuccessful German/British collaboration, The Pleasure Garden, is credited with inspiring the expressionistic streak that runs throughout his work. His early silent film The Lodger was the first to establish the classic Hitchcock plot of the innocent man caught in a web of intrigue.

The Great English Films:

The Man Who Knew Too Much was acclaimed in 1934, and a year later, The 39 Steps established Hitchcock among Britain’s leading directors. In the great Hitchcock tradition, the hero of 39 Steps is a man falsely accused and on the run — relying on the help of a pretty blonde to save his hide, prove his innocence, and solve an international espionage plot. Hitchcock followed with the comic suspense film Sabotage, and The Lady Vanishes, a diverting mystery set aboard a train.

Hitchcock in Hollywood:

In 1940, David O. Selznick lured Hitchcock to Hollywood to direct Rebecca. They made great movies together, but their battles were legendary, and the last film they made together together was Spellbound in 1945. “Hitch” split with Selznick, and was at the top of his game in the years that followed.

Hitchcock’s Great Works:

He produced several undisputed masterpieces in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Try Strangers On a Train, a tense thriller with an innocent man entangled in a psychotic charmer’s murder plot. Or Rear Window, with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in the nail-biting tale of a man stuck in a wheelchair who thinks he sees his neighbor kill his wife. And don’t miss Notorious, a masterful spy story with Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant and Claude Rains.

For my money, the best is North by Northwest, a hugely entertaining cross-country thriller with Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason that winds up at Mount Rushmore, of all places. (One of the working titles was “The Man in Lincoln’s Nose.” Ugh.) Many critics tag Vertigo as Hitchcock’s greatest film, an “is-she-or-isn’t-she” spellbinder with Kim Novak in a double role.

The Big Shocker:

Psycho, while not his best film, might be his most famous. The psychological thriller was controversial for its violence at the time (1960) and therefore extremely lucrative. It inspired so many imitators that it seems clichéd and a little campy now, but it can still deliver a shock or two, and Anthony Perkins is still deliciously creepy. Hannibal Lecter owes him a thing or two.

The Later Films:

The Birds is the best of Hitchcock’s later movies, departing from his traditional themes. It’s an odd, nerve-wracking tale of birds attacking a seaside town in waves of inexplicable savagery. The sight of silent crows settling one by one on a schoolyard jungle gym is unforgettable.

Hitchcock’s last great film, 1972’s Frenzy, marked his return to England. A lot of critics love it, but I found its rape scene too raw and too real, even by modern standards.

Hitchcock Signatures:

Hitchcock and his off-screen collaborators pioneered many now-familiar tricks of the trade, including the “Hitchcock zoom,” in which the foreground remains steady while the background swells closer, producing the sensation that the world is closing in on the helpless subjects.

He appeared in cameos in all of his films, usually as a face in the crowd, a bus passenger or some such mundane extra. In Lifeboat, a tense thriller set entirely on a tiny boat, the only way he could manage to appear was as the “before and after” photo in a newspaper ad for a diet program.


For a man who specialized in movie mayhem, he had a stable and by all accounts happy home life. He was devoted to his wife, Alma Reville, whom he married in 1926, and who collaborated with him on every film. Nevertheless, he had his quirks and could be quite unpleasant. He was said to be unable to look at Alma when she was pregnant with their only child, Patricia. He once sent a doll that looked like Tippi Hedren (who he detested) in a coffin to the daughter of the ice-blonde star of The Birds. And he had a dreadful fear of eggs.

Hitchcock’s Humor:

Hitchcock was celebrated for his dry one-liners and funereal delivery. When an actor inquired what his motivation for a scene ought to be, Hitchcock replied, “Your salary.” Of his television show, he said, “Television has brought murder back into the home, where it belongs.” And he gave the shortest and best Oscar acceptance speech ever made: “Thank you.”

Movie Sample made by teens

The Grammar of Film: Type of Shots

Television and film use certain common conventions often referred to as the ‘grammar’ of these audiovisual media. This list includes some of the most important conventions for conveying meaning through particular camera and editing techniques (as well as some of the specialised vocabulary of film production).

Long shot (LS). Shot which shows all or most of a fairly large subject (for example, a person) and usually much of the surroundings. Extreme Long Shot (ELS) – see establishing shot: In this type of shot the camera is at its furthest distance from the subject, emphasising the background. Medium Long Shot (MLS): In the case of a standing actor, the lower frame line cuts off his feet and ankles. Some documentaries with social themes favour keeping people in the longer shots, keeping social circumstances rather than the individual as the focus of attention.

Establishing shot. Opening shot or sequence, frequently an exterior ‘General View’ as an Extreme Long Shot (ELS). Used to set the scene.

Medium shots. Medium Shot or Mid-Shot (MS). In such a shot the subject or actor and its setting occupy roughly equal areas in the frame. In the case of the standing actor, the lower frame passes through the waist. There is space for hand gestures to be seen. Medium Close Shot (MCS): The setting can still be seen. The lower frame line passes through the chest of the actor. Medium shots are frequently used for the tight presentation of two actors (the two shot), or with dexterity three (the three shot).

Close-up (CU). A picture which shows a fairly small part of the scene, such as a character’s face, in great detail so that it fills the screen. It abstracts the subject from a context. MCU (Medium Close-Up): head and shoulders. BCU (Big Close-Up): forehead to chin. Close-ups focus attention on a person’s feelings or reactions, and are sometimes used in interviews to show people in a state of emotional excitement, grief or joy. In interviews, the use of BCUs may emphasize the interviewee’s tension and suggest lying or guilt. BCUs are rarely used for important public figures; MCUs are preferred, the camera providing a sense of distance. Note that in western cultures the space within about 24 inches is generally felt to be private space, and BCUs may be invasive.



Angle of shot. The direction and height from which the camera takes the scene. The convention is that in ‘factual’ programs subjects should be shot from eye-level only. In a high angle the camera looks down at a character, making the viewer feel more powerful than him or her, or suggesting an air of detachment. A low angle shot places camera below the character, exaggerating his or her importance. An overhead shot is one made from a position directly above the action.

Viewpoint. The apparent distance and angle from which the camera views and records the subject. Not to be confused with point-of-view shots or subjective camera shots.

Point-of-view shot (POV). A shot made from a camera position close to the line of sight of a performer who is to be watching the action shown in the point-of-view shot.

Two-shot. A shot of two people together.

Selective focus. Rendering only part of the action field in sharp focus through the use of a shallow depth of field. A shift of focus from foreground to background or vice versa is called rack focus.

Soft focus. An effect in which the sharpness of an image, or part of it, is reduced by the use of an optical device.

Wide-angle shot. A shot of a broad field of action taken with a wide-angle lens.

Tilted shot. When the camera is tilted on its axis so that normally vertical lines appear slanted to the left or right, ordinary expectations are frustrated. Such shots are often used in mystery and suspense films to create a sense of unease in the viewer.

Zoom. In zooming in the camera does not move; the lens is focussed down from a long-shot to a close-up whilst the picture is still being shown. The subject is magnified, and attention is concentrated on details previously invisible as the shot tightens (contrast tracking). It may be used to surprise the viewer. Zooming out reveals more of the scene (perhaps where a character is, or to whom he or she is speaking) as the shot widens. Zooming in rapidly brings not only the subject but also the background hurtling towards the viewer, which can be disconcerting. Zooming in and then out creates an ugly ‘yo-yo’ effect.

Following pan. The camera swivels (in the same base position) to follow a moving subject. A space is left in front of the subject: the pan ‘leads’ rather than ‘trails’. A pan usually begins and ends with a few seconds of still picture to give greater impact. The speed of a pan across a subject creates a particular mood as well as establishing the viewer’s relationship with the subject.

Surveying pan. The camera slowly searches the scene: may build to a climax or anticlimax.

Tilt. A vertical movement of the camera – up or down- while the camera mounting stays fixed.

Crab. The camera moves (crabs) right or left.

Tracking (dollying). Tracking involves the camera itself being moved smoothly towards or away from the subject (contrast with zooming). Tracking in (like zooming) draws the viewer into a closer, more intense relationship with the subject; moving away tends to create emotional distance. Tracking back tends to divert attention to the edges of the screen. The speed of tracking may affect the viewer’s mood. Rapid tracking (especially tracking in) is exciting; tracking back relaxes interest. In a dramatic narrative we may sometimes be drawn forward towards a subject against our will. Camera movement parallel to a moving subject permits speed without drawing attention to the camera itself.

Hand-held camera. A hand-held camera can produce a jerky, bouncy, unsteady image which may create a sense of immediacy or chaos. Its use is a form of subjective treatment.

Process shot. A shot made of action in front of a rear projection screen having on it still or moving images as a background.

Assignment #3 for Sept. 29

1. Reading Assignment

Read Chapters 5 & 6 from Filmamaking for Teens.

2. Script. You should be working on your Script and discussing it with your team members. First Draft need to be ready for the class on Oct. 6.

What you will need as far as locations, props and costumes should becoming clear by now. The producer and his Associate producer should start identifying possible locations, scheduling casting, if needed and thinking about where to get props and costumes for the film.

3. Movie Assignment

These are the movies you will need to watch for next week.

Facing Giants – from the same production company as Flywheel. After the successful debut, they up their production to make Facing Giant. Still a voluntary crew. Pay attention to how the handle the dialogue.

A Beautiful Life — Roberto Benigni

The Pursuit of Happyness – Will Smith

This Week Production Notes: Who are the Production Team

This week you will designate your production company roles. You have to choose among yourself who will perform the following duties. Before you choose, pray that God will guide you in your choices.

The Production Team

The Producer

He/she is the driving force behind the creation of the film. He/she:

  • Manages the film details
  • Solve problems
  • Assemble the crew
  • Create the shooting schedule
  • Scout locations
  • Casting
  • Find props, costumes & other production elements.

Associate Producer

During the pre-production phase, he/she helps the producer in all his pre-production tasks. On set he/she is there to solve problems on set.

Assistant Director

During pre-production he assist the director in casting and Rehearsal. During filming, he/she is the boss on the set. Directs technical folks, mobilizes all personnel to get the shot the director wants. The director decides what he/she wants and the AD makes it so.

Camera Operator

Responsible to frame the shot under the advice of the director, and pushes the red bottom. Has to be familiar with all operations of the camera. (this job is only necessary if you have a monitor. If not, the director should be the camera operator.

Sound Engineer

Responsible to coordinate with the camera operator in order to get the best sound possible.


Other helpers are:

  • Two Gaffers – Camera operator’s helpers: in charge of lights, moving camera equipment.
  • Two Grips – Sound operator helpers.
  • Two “PA” – aka production assistants. They help the producer and director
  • Propmaster/Wardrobe – Self explanatory

The Schedule

Once the script start to take shape and before you prepare the shooting schedule you need to scout locations. You need to know where you are going to be before you know what you need and when you’ll need it.

The script should be very specific about the kind of places that you will need to shoot. Finding interesting locations contributes to a good looking movie.

When you go out to scout for at any location, don’t forget your PANTs:

  1. Power -make sure that if you need electricity the location have power outlets.
  2. Accessibility – Is it easy to get in? or Hard to find?
  3. Noise – stop and listen. Noise can be a killer.
  4. Traffic – car and pedestrian traffic can create problems.

A location that is accessible, has low noise, no or little pedestrian traffic, and has power is ideal.

Important: as you write your script, make note of locations, costumes and props you will need. You should also be thinking on the talent you will need.

Production Teams Announced

Today during class the Production Teams were chosen and announced.

Team One

  • Natalie – Director
  • Caitlin
  • Angelie
  • Nicole
  • Misael

Team Two

  • Victor – Director
  • Kiara
  • Efrain
  • Anibal
  • Gabe

Team Three

  • Joseph – Director
  • Antonio
  • Angel
  • Nastassja
  • Joshua

Team Four

  • Edward – Director
  • Christian
  • Joseph B.
  • Alexandra

Don’t fortget to check-out next week assignment and to download Celtx so you can start working on your script. Check frequently the site as I will post some tips throughout out the week.