FILM 1301: The Art of Film and Media
This course is an introduction to basic concepts of film and video aesthetics. Aesthetics is the study of how works of art use their constitutive elements to elicit in the viewer a particular kind of perceptual, cognitive, or emotional effect. Films and videos have been chosen to illustrate these concepts and to introduce you to a variety of types of creative work in film and video. While some of the material we view is made in Hollywood, some are from traditions which may be less familiar, particularly the European art cinema and the international avant-garde. We will cover film style, narrative structure, genre, and authorship.
Each course unit will consist of a screening and discussion. We will introduce key concepts in the analysis of form, narrative, and style and watch a film or television program in its entirety. After the screening, we will discuss its use of aspects of form, style, and narrative from that unit of the course. We will begin by discussing the general issues of form in the arts, and move from there to a vocabulary to analyze narrative in fiction, drama and film. Once we have established the relationship between form and narrative, we will spend four units on each of the aspects of film style, camerawork, editing, mise-en-scêne, and sound. The second half of the course will be discussing film, television, in media texts as group styles and commercial genres, such as the documentary, the international art cinema, the horror film, and the situation comedy. Students will be graded on participation in class discussion, a midterm and final exam, and two short paper assignments.
Kevin Heffernan has taught in the Division of Film and Media Arts in the Meadows School for fifteen years and has taught dozens of courses in film and television history, theory, and criticism. He has also taught courses on screenwriting, film production, and contract law in the movie business. He is the author of Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1952-1968 from Duke University Press and was co-screenwriter and associate producer on the documentary feature Divine Trash, which won the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. He is currently writing a book tentatively titled A Wind From the East: Currents in East Asian Popular Film After 1997.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
- Distinguish between the stylistic and narrative elements of a film or work of video
- Recognize the narrative functions of stylistic choices made by moving image artists
- Recount important changes in the social, technological, artistic, and economic histories which have effected film, television, and video
- Recount the defining elements of important film and TV genres
- Recognize the stylistic and narrative choices which make one moving image artist’s work distinctive from that of others
- Form and test hypotheses about the influence of historical forces on moving-image media industries and individual film and video makers