IB Film

Course Name

IB Study of Film (HL)

Contact Information

Office Hours: Mornings - Mon/Wed/Fri - 8:15 - 8:45a; Afternoons - Mon - Fri
Room: 2009
School Phone: 972-502-4400
School Fax: 972-502-4401

Course Philosophy

Film is both a powerful communication medium and an art form. The Diploma Programme film course aims to develop students’ skills so that they become adept in both interpreting and making film texts.*

Through the study and analysis of film texts and exercises in film-making, the Diploma Programme film course explores film history, theory and socio-economic background. The course develops students’ critical abilities, enabling them to appreciate the multiplicity of cultural and historical perspectives in film. To achieve an international understanding within the world of film, students are taught to consider film texts, theories and ideas from the points of view of different individuals, nations and cultures.

The IB film course emphasizes the importance of working individually and as a member of a group. Students are encouraged to develop the professional and technical skills (including organizational skills) needed to express themselves creatively in film. A challenge for students following this course is to become aware of their own perspectives and biases and to learn to respect those of others. This requires willingness to attempt to understand alternative views, to respect and appreciate cultural diversity, and to have an open and critical mind. Thus, the IB film course can become a way for the student to celebrate the international and intercultural dynamic that inspires and sustains a type of contemporary film, while appreciating specifically local origins that have given rise to cinematic production in many parts of the world.

For any student to create, to present and to study film requires courage, passion and curiosity: courage to create individually and as part of a team, to explore ideas through action and harness the imagination, and to experiment; passion to communicate and to act communally, and to research and formulate ideas eloquently; curiosity about self and others and the world around them, about different traditions, techniques and knowledge, about the past and the future, and about the limitless possibilities of human expression through film.

At the core of the IB film course lies a concern with clarity of understanding, critical thinking, reflective analysis, effective involvement and imaginative synthesis that is achieved through practical engagement in the art and craft of film.

*Please note that the term “film texts” includes films and television programs.

Course Objectives

General Objectives
The objectives of Study of Film are to enable students to:
- enjoy lifelong engagement with video and film
- become informed, reflective and critical practitioners
- understand the dynamic and changing nature of the film industry in practice
- explore and value the diversity of film across time, place and cultures
- express ideas with confidence and competence
- develop perceptual and analytical skills.

Specific (Assessable) Objectives
The course objectives to develop in students the skills necessary to achieve creative and critical independence in their knowledge, experience and enjoyment of film

The aims are to promote:
- an appreciation and understanding of film as a complex art form
- an ability to formulate stories and ideas in film terms
- the practical and technical skills of production
- critical evaluation of film productions by the student and by others
- a knowledge of film-making traditions in more than one country.

Course Content

Part 1: Textual analysis (approximately 25% of total time in this course)

It is essential that students are able to understand how meanings are constructed within and through film texts, and to view the production of these texts in a broader framework. Students should be able to identify how film uses a range of devices to represent experiences and stories, as well as to convey meanings and values. They should be able to acquire and use the appropriate tools for analyzing films from various countries and place these within wider sociocultural perspectives. Students should develop both their own enjoyment of film and lifelong habits of critical inquiry.

Students should move between close textual analysis of specific scenes and analysis of films as a whole, expressing an understanding of the same meanings within the larger framework.

Students should use the key concepts of film language, genre, audience, institution, narrative and representation to generate initial questions about the texts they are analyzing.

Textual analysis involves commenting upon the following elements, and on relationships between them:
- Construction according to narrative or other formal organizing principles
- Representation of characters and issues
- Camera angles, shots and movement
- Editing and sequencing
- Lighting, shade and color
- Sound
- Location and set design
- Features determining genre
- Target audience
- Historical, economic, sociocultural and institutional factors

Part 2: Film theory and history (approximately 25% of total time in this course)

Film is influenced by and is in part a product of its own history and tradition, as well as the social, economic and institutional forces that surround it. Similarly, film is influenced by the observations and research of practitioners and scholars.

Students are expected to learn about films from more than one country to enhance their understanding of films familiar to them and also of films from other countries that may be less familiar. 

Aspects of film theory and history will be introduced to students by asking such questions as:
- Who made this?
- Why?
- What can we tell about the film-maker(s)?
- For whom was it made? How does it address its audience? What is the nature of our engagement with film?
- What outside influences can we perceive in terms of finance, ownership, institution and sociocultural context?
- What tradition is it in (for example, American gangster film, Bollywood musical)?
- To what other works might it be connected?

The most important question after discussing each of these questions is: “How did you know?” thus, leading students to realize that they must carefully justify all their arguments and be able to explain their own thought processes. The question of how we know what we know is a central question of theory of knowledge.

Part 3: Creative process of production (approximately 50% of total time in this course)

Students will have the opportunity to develop skills in film production. This is a complex process that requires creative and analytical skills as well as meticulous organization, and almost always involves close collaboration with others. We will begin with simple creative exercises, gradually leading towards more substantial projects.

Students should learn the overall structure of film-making, the nature of the relationships in a production team, and the need for discipline and protocol on set or location. Students will be encouraged to work in a variety of roles to explore skills and aptitude in different fields.

Depending on the nature of their project, students may work alone or in production groups containing a maximum of four people.

The Process
- Initial planning
- Finding the idea
- Research
- Treatment and script development
- Pitch and approval
- Developing the proposal
- Negotiating the proposal with the teacher
- Receiving approval to proceed

Technical planning
- Conceptualization—interpretation of the script in terms of theme, genre, purpose, style, mood and overall structure
- Visualization—definition of shot selection, camera position and movement, lighting, color, set design, costume and make-up, supported, where appropriate, by the creation of a storyboard containing key images of relevant scenes
- Production scheduling—definition of responsibilities, task lists and matters relating to organization, time frames and deadlines
- Editing and sound strategies—outlining the preliminary concepts of editing and sound as dictated by the chosen genre and by the individual project.

Physical Production
- Pre-production—selection of crew members, scouting for and determining locations, acquiring costumes and props, casting of actors (if applicable), definition of technical needs, finalizing script, storyboard and production schedule
- Production—principal photography and sound recording, execution of storyboard, continuous overview of production planning
- Post-production—various phases of editing (assembly, rough and fine cuts), sound editing, selection of music, titles and visuals, and final mix.

Production Journal
Each student, whether working alone or in a group, should maintain an individual journal recording key information throughout the entire production process. The journal should note decisions made, issues raised and solutions reached. Students should include reflections and lessons learned, as well as objective evaluations of their own and others’ performance and the finished productions. Although this journal must not be included in the portfolio in its entirety, relevant excerpts should be included where appropriate as supporting evidence to clarify the individual student’s work and thinking on the project.  This may include selections from storyboards, screenshots, script excerpts or excerpts from other production documents.

The processes of producing (construction), and deconstructing and evaluating the finished production must be informed by an understanding of how meaning is constructed through film language.

Retention of materials
All materials associated with a production should be kept in a safe place. Students will need to refer to production files in order to select documentation for assessment.

Copyright Statement—Important
Student work must not contain any third party, copyrighted material.  The intention of the film course is that students, especially in the production portfolio component, will be the original creators of, or have a significant role in the creation of, any audio or visual material that they use in their work. Audio work may involve collaboration with local musicians or other students to help create original material for a soundtrack as part of a creative dialogue rather than merely “finding” a piece that would fit. Copyright-free software may also be used as appropriate.

Note: Even if copyright material is legally obtained, this is a violation of the course’s intended outcomes.


Assessment Objectives
Having completed the Study of Film course, students are expected to demonstrate:
- an understanding of the variety of ways in which film creates meaning
- an understanding and effective use of appropriate film language
- originality and creativity in developing an idea through the various stages of film-making, from conception to finished production
- technical skills and an appropriate use of available technology
- the ability to draw together knowledge, skills, research and experience, and apply them analytically to evaluate film texts
- a critical understanding of the historical, theoretical, sociocultural, economic and institutional contexts of film in more than one country
- the ability to research, plan and organize working processes
- the ability to reflect upon and evaluate film production processes and completed film texts.

Major Assessments

External assessment (Two separate projects) 50%
This component is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.

Independent Study (25%)
Rationale, script and list of annotated sources for a short documentary production of 12–15 pages on an aspect of film theory and/or film history, based on a study of a minimum of four films. The chosen films must originate from more than one country. At HL some comparisons should be drawn between the films chosen. (25 marks)
- Length of the rationale: no more than 100 words
- Length of the script: 12–15 pages

Presentation (25%)
An oral presentation of a detailed critical analysis of a continuous extract from a prescribed film. - The extract must not be longer than 5 minutes. (25 marks)
- Maximum length of presentation: 15 minutes
- Must be recorded on CD

Internal assessment (One project) 50%
This component is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.

Production Portfolio
One completed film project with accompanying written documentation: no more than 1,750 words. (50 marks)
- Length of the film project: 6–7 minutes (including titles)
- Length of individual rationale for the film: no more than 100 words

Group work: The film project may be undertaken as a group project, but all accompanying documentation must be individually produced. Students cannot present the same edit of their film projects for internal assessment due to the different assessment requirements.


The final grade is based on a combination of daily grades, quizzes, unit tests and the three external and internal assessment projects.  More information about this will be distributed later. The term “daily grade” may be deceiving since there will not be a grade given every day.  This term is used to cover all assignments which do not fit the other categories.  The “daily grades” will include homework such as short writing assignments, review questions, production journal entries, etc.  Although there are a few exceptions, generally, a full credit grade is entered for turning in the completed assignments on time.

No credit is given for late or partially completed assignments.

Classroom Behavior
Students are expected to behave in a manner that promotes learning, scholarship, and honor. Any breeches of school rules or acceptable behavior will be dealt with first with the student and then with the parent. Administrators will be informed as situations demand. Students are expected to be prepared and on-time to class each day.

Academic Honesty
Students will receive a copy of the Woodrow Wilson High School Academic Honesty Policy.  All students and faculty will follow the policy.

Students must attend class ninety percent (90%) of class time. This applies to excused and unexcused absences—the law makes no distinction. If a student fails to attend the required number of classes, credit cannot be given without making up time missed and approval from the Attendance Committee.

Each student should have:
- A large (1 ½ or 2 inch) 3-ring binder for class notes, handouts, etc.
- Tab separators for sections in the binder
-Three highlighters of different colors
-Pens (black or blue ink only), pencils, and plenty of loose leaf notebook paper for notes and writing assignments

Students will not receive a grade for their notebooks for this class; however, they must bring their supplies to class every day.

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