intro to film

Introduction to Film [Film 100]

Instructor: Mike Enright

Meeting Times:
Tuesday 2-4:50 PM (section 13322)
Friday 12:30-3:20 PM (section 13348)

Course Description

An introduction to the language of film, this course familiarizes students with the key elements of cinema: narrative, cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing, and sound. Focusing primarily on fictional narrative films, the course explores the ways in which filmmakers employ the basic elements of cinema to reveal character, convey plot and theme, and create meaning. Both “Classical” Hollywood style and alternative styles are discussed. Students learn to critically analyze films and effectively communicate their ideas in writing. In addition to a mid-term and a final exam, there will be several scene analysis papers
Class Hours: 3

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, the student
will be able to:

Identify and describe cinematic elements:

Critically analyze a film:

Course Requirements

You should be taking notes on all films shown in class. After each class screening, you should visit the Internet Movie Database ( to note down key cast and crew credits and add the information to your screening notes. Bring your screening notes to the following class to use in class discussions. In addition to the written work, there will be required reading for each unit of study. Students might be called upon to watch some films outside class. These films will be available at the WCC Library, at a local library, or on Netflix.

Please note that assignments turned in late will be marked down by a grade increment e.g. if your paper is graded as a B+ but it is late, then it will be brought down to a B. No work due in the first half of the semester will be accepted after mid-term. All assignments should be printed out and submitted; no emailed or handwritten assignments will be accepted.

Students may be excused from an exam only for a valid reason such as illness or family emergency. A make-up exam must be scheduled within one week of the scheduled exam.


Scene Analyses (2) 30%
Quizes (3) 30%
Attendance/Participation 20%
Final Exam 20%

Class participation is an important part of this course. Some of the material covered in class cannot be duplicated outside of the class. Students who miss class should let me know as soon as possible, preferably before the class is missed, and get instructions on how best to make up the missed work. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor and make arrangements for all missed work.

Topic Outline

Week 1: Intro to class, narrative elements, screening notes, and a brief bio of Orson Welles. What are screening notes? Historical and cultural significance of Kane; first half shown.

Week 2: Second half of Citizen Kane, discussion of narrative elements in the film.

Week 3-4: Narrative elements continued: characters, rising action, climax, denouement, setting, genre.

Week 5-6: Intro to mise-en-sc�ne, On the Waterfront. Historical and cultural significance of Waterfront, elements of mise-en- sc�ne: sets, costumes, actors, makeup, figure position, facial expression.

Week 7: More mise-en-sc�ne: props, lighting, framing and composition, movement and color in the frame.

Week 8-9: Intro to cinematography, showing of The Graduate. Historical and cultural significance of The Graduate, frames, shots, scenes, camera distance.

Week 10: More cinematography: camera distance continued; depth of field and lenses; shallow, deep, and soft-focus; wide-angle, telephoto, normal; camera angle; camera movement.

Week 11: Intro to editing. Historical evolution of edits, establishing shots, 180º rule, continuity editing, parallel action.

Week 12: More editing. Storyboards, slow disclosures, cut frequency, rule-breaking edits, dissolves, fades, wipes, Hollywood montage. Historical and cultural significance of Bonnie and Clyde.

Week 13: Intro to sound, Bonnie and Clyde continued. Sound effects, Foley work, ambient sound, fidelity and pitch, reverb, diegetic and non-diegetic sound, dialogue, voice-over, sound bridge, the bus technique.

Week 14: Review, exam prep. Title sequences, experimental film.

Class Text

Close Up: A Critical Introduction to Film
Craig Padawer, KendallHunt, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7575-8454-1

Ebook publisher website for $53

Class Conduct

In the interest in establishing and maintaining an appropriate learning environment, maximizing the educational benefits to all students, maintaining an atmosphere of safety and comfort, and clarifying the faculty and students’ expectation of classroom conduct, the College has established the following:

More on Cell Phone Use and Texting in Class

As a courtesy to other students, all cellphones should be turned off or set to vibrate at the beginning of class.  Students should refrain from texting during class lectures and activities.  If you must send or receive a message during class, please leave the room quietly to minimize interference with class instruction. If you cause a distraction by texting in class, you will be asked to leave the room.

Student Support Services

The Academic Support Center helps students become successful, confident, independent learners. The ASC provides ongoing tutorial assistance in Math, Reading, ESL, Science, Physics, Computer Science, and Writing, as well as various study skill workshops. Services are available on campus, at extension sites and online. For more information, visit asc/.

WCC also offers a number of other excellent support services, such as personal counseling and emergency financial assistance; a directory can be found at

Westchester Community College provides services for students with documented learning disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, physical disabilities, visual, hearing, and other health impairments. To learn what support services are available, call (914) 606-6287 or email

Academic Honesty

This class will be conducted in accordance with the college’s standards of academic honesty. No form of cheating, forgery, plagiarism, or collusion in dis- honest acts will be tolerated. Students are encouraged to visit the college catalog to view the academic honesty policy, which includes definitions of plagiarism and cheating, at catoid=40&navoid=6150#academic_honesty_policy

Students are encouraged to visit the Purdue University's website for an excellent overview of plagiarism, and tips on how to avoid it.


Lesson 10 (online):

Hey! I hope you are all doing well. What a weird time to be alive and in the New York area; as always, we're right at the center of things, which is not such a good thing during a pandemic! This is our last lesson for the semester; next week you'll be getting instructions from me about how to do an online final exam. The exam is about thirty multiple-choice questions on film clips you'll be able to watch on Blackboard. Most of the questions are about meaning rather than technique, and involve more common sense than class notes. I'll post it Monday morning, and you'll have a week to take it (though once you start you have to finish).

I have added some review notes to the Lesson 10 page that should help you with the test. Make sure you know terms we've used like "mise-en-scène" and "diagetic." I have also added a couple of new pages that give you some new vocabulary for talking about movies.

I know this online setup isn't working for everyone, and it has taken me longer than I'd like to get new items posted for you. It's also taken me a while to give some sort of reply to your responses on the discussion boards, and for that I'm sorry. Some of you have expressed concern to me about grades; the only reason I haven't posted grades thus far is that I haven't learned how to do it privately on Blackboard. Email me if you're concerned, and please use the address.

I have a new video I'm posting today that will require responses in a new Blackboard discussion group. Let me tell you what happens when you post to the group: first, I mark you present, so you get attendance credit. Second, I give you an A because you responded! Pretty easy, right? Why not do it? And yet quite a few of you aren't taking advantage. Those of you who haven't yet posted, go back to the lessons posted below and get those responses in. I have no other way to give you a grade, and I don't want to flunk you!

Here's Lesson 10.

Lesson 9 (online): Night of the Hunter

Go to this page to find the latest assignment. There are two videos posted; the first gives a little background on the film and the second is the feature itself, a classic of American cinema and one of the highlights of the 1950s.

After you watch the videos, post your response on Blackboard on the Night of the Hunter Discussion Board. Click to create a new thread and then post your comments. If you've put your comments together in an external text document, copy all your writing and post it into the discussion board. That way everyone will see it.

Lesson 8 (online): Follow-up to Psycho

Go to this page to find this week's assignment. You'll be watching a series of short videos about various aspects of Psycho. After you watch each video, post your response on Blackboard on the Psycho Discussion Board; look for the forum labeled "Psycho Follow-up." Click the button to create a new thread and then post your comments. If you've put your comments together in an external text document, copy all your writing and post it into the discussion board. That way everyone will see it.

Lesson 7 (online): Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho

There are two videos you need to watch; both can be found on this page. The first is a ninety-minute video about the career of the master director Alfred Hitchcock. Work your way through it as you get the time; you don't have to watch it all at once. It should be visible on your phones as well as on your computers. I attempted to put a password on it, but I'm not sure that's working. If you're asked for a password, it's hitchcock.

The second video is an online copy of Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece, Psycho. Try to watch it all the way through in one sitting; it's about two hours long. Turn off the lights. Turn up the sound. Don't text.

When you've watched both videos, go to the class page on Blackboard where you will be guided on posting a response. Note the response will generate both a grade and an attendance mark. You have until this Friday (April 3) to post.

Please send me any scene analyses directly to me at

Lesson 6: Waterfront concluded / Brando 2 / Mise-en-scène continued

Today we'll discuss the conclusion of On the Waterfront in terms of narrative elements and mise-en-scène. We will conclude our discussion of Marlon Brando by briefly looking over his career after 1954. Finally we will continue our discussion of mise-en-scène with clips, clips, and more clips.

Assignment: two-page scene analysis from On the Waterfront. Remember, don't tell me the story; pick one scene from the movie and tell me about the shots, the angles, the lighting, the makeup, the actors, etc., and why these things were chosen. In other words, how do all these elements help tell the story. Due next week.

Lesson 5: Mise-en-scène and Waterfront continued

Today we'll review the first half of On the Waterfront looking out for whatever narrative elements and mise-en-scène components can be discussed.

We will also review the origins of the Red Menace hysteria of the 40s and 50s that was behind the House Un-American Activities Committee and its hearings of 1947. These hearings focused on Communism in Hollywood and helped initiate the infamous "blacklist," a list of filmmakers who would no longer be hired due to suspected Communist sympathies. Both Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg (the director and the writer of On the Waterfront) "named names" of associates in the business who they believed to be Communists.

Finally, we'll complete our viewing of On The Waterfront.

Lesson 4: Mise-en-scène

Mise-en-scène is a catch-all term describing many of the visual elements of films, everything from the facial expressions of the actors to sets, camera framing, costumes, or props.

Click here to see the list of terms we will discuss in class.

Today we will also begin our second film in class with On the Waterfront from 1954; the original screenplay is by Budd Schulberg and the director is Elia Kazan. We will prep for the movie by taking a look at the career and impact of Marlon Brando.

Lesson 3: Citizen Kane 3 / Narrative Elements

Today we will discuss the narrative elements that make up Citizen Kane. This page includes a glossary of narrative terms that we will use in our discussion. I've put together an edit of Citizen Kane that shows all the major scenes in chronological order, with a clip from each. Click here to see it. There is also a second clip showing the actors as they appear in the end credits.

The first assignment, due next week, is a two-page paper (double-spaced, 14 points, full page) that does a scene analysis from any scene from Citizen Kane. For some assistance, check the textbook on p. 129, "Analysis - How to Listen and Look for Meaning." Also helpful might be the video found at the link below that shows a fine analysis of a scene from Taxi Driver.

Scene Analysis from Taxi Driver by Craig Padawer

Lesson 2: Citizen Kane 2

During this lesson we will review and analyze various aspects of the first half of Citizen Kane. Topics covered: narrative elements in Kane, deep focus, moving camera, economical filmmaking, and matte or glass paintings. Finally, we will watch the 2nd half of Kane.

Lesson 1: Citizen Kane 1 / Narrative Elements

Narrative elements: definitions

Narrative elements: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Assignment: read chapter 1 of the text, and the Wikipedia entry on Orson Welles.

Film: Citizen Kane from 1941; 119 minutes

Orson Welles: producer, director, star, and (along with Herman J. Mankiewicz) author. With the Mercury Players.

Keep track of how the script tells the story, important scenes, notable shots or sequences of shots, use of sound, use of music, significant performances in the film, and anything else from the movie that makes an impression on you. Later these screening impressions will become the basis for a scene analysis from Kane.