Welcome to Being a Director! This course builds upon the lessons students learned in the Being a Screenwriter courses to teach the necessary skills for directing and creating a one-of-a-kind movie masterpiece!
Our goal is to demystify creative pursuits for instructors and students alike by providing a step-by-step, fun learning process. This course is Part 3 of a three-course unit (developing a screenplay idea, writing a screenplay, and filming a screenplay), but can also be used separately.
About the Organization of This Course
The consistent step-wise presentation of each lesson makes Community Learning materials and activities easy to follow for any instructor.
Each lesson contains the following helpful elements:
What students can be expected to learn from this activity.
Clear identification of the materials required for each lesson.
Preparation Notes (set-up)
Easy set-ups that ensure learner engagement is on task and on time.
Notes for the Instructor
A brief introduction to the subject matter and challenges presented in each lesson, often with real-life examples from history, popular culture, and, of course, movies.
Notes for the Students (including new vocabulary)
Introductory material for the students to read, discuss, watch or listen to in order to “set the stage” for each lesson.
Overview of Each Lesson
Lesson 1 -Places Everyone: The Role of a Film Director
In this lesson, you’ll help your students understand the role of a director. No doubt that they’ve probably heard the word “director” before, but it will be your task to help them understand what it means. To help students get a feel for how directors affect a film, you’ll play a game today that asks students to look for distinctions between the styles of different directors.
Lesson 2 - Film as Art: Learning to Think Cinematically
In this lesson, students will learn about mise-en-scène, an important aspect of filmmaking borne out of the earliest days of the medium when French filmmakers were first learning to use film technology to tell stories. It's very important for students to understand that everything in the scene must convey something to the audience.
Lesson 3 - Movie Stars: Casting and Working with Actors
In this lesson students will familiarize themselves with the members of a filmmaking crew who bring the movie’s characters to life: actors. Throughout the production phase of a movie, actors and directors work closely together to interpret a script and turn the words written in a screenplay into a believable story.
Lesson 4 - Take One: Shooting Your Film
In today’s lesson, students begin the most important (and most time-consuming) portion of their movie projects: shooting their films. To do this, they first learn about “shots,” the small video clips that are edited together to make a scene in a movie. To do so, a director and her/his team set up their cameras, lights, sound equipment, etc. They put their sets, props, and actors where they want them.
Lesson 5 - Your Best Shot: Cinematic Techniques
This lesson will add to what students learned in the previous lesson regarding cinematography by discussing another important element of shooting movies: camera angles. There are many camera angles to consider but in these activities you'll focus on these: Establishing shot, Long shot, Medium shot, Close-up and Extreme close-up.
Lesson 6 - Bright Lights: Storytelling with Light and Color
This lesson also adds some new tools to their cinematography repertoire that they can continue adding to their shot list. specifically focusing on lighting. As you help your students learn, any lighting in a movie is placed intentionally and has an important effect on the viewer.
Lesson 7 - Invisible Art: Editing Your Movie
In this lesson your students will begin to learn to edit their own movies. You’ll demonstrate to your students the three most basic features of any editing software: importing footage, adding footage to a sequence, and adding transitions. Included are instructions for performing these tasks in Windows Movie Maker and Apple’s iMovie.
Lesson 8 - Guiding Your Audience: Storytelling through Editing
In this lesson, students learn about the power of transitions in films. Transitions play two roles in the editing process, both a mechanical role in the physical structure of a film when it was physically cut between scenes and the effects help the viewer understand how the story is moving between shots much like transitions in a written story or essay.
Lesson 9 - Finishing Touches: Harnessing the Power of Music
In today’s lesson, students add some finishing touches to their films by working on their movies’ sound. This is the final step in the process of making a movie, and your students have worked hard to get here. What started as a brainstorm has now taken shape into a tangible product. With just one more step, their movies will be complete!
Lesson 10 - Rolling Out the Red Carpet: The Movie Premier
In this lesson, you will celebrate with your students and watch their final films! This is a big day. To create your own film from scratch is no easy task, and it is certainly an accomplishment to rejoice in. To celebrate, your students will take part in their own movie premiere. The movie premiere is broken into two parts: 1) a red carpet Q&A with the filmmakers and 2) the screening of their films.
Running this Course
One of the most important things to understand about the filmmaking process is just how much effort goes into creating a film. In the next ten weeks, your students will get a taste of acting, set design, costume design, cinematography, editing, and more. While their in-class reading and activity will be structured around thinking like a director and learning to turn their screenplays into film, the shooting and editing of their films will be the most time-consuming part of the filmmaking process and will need to be done in teams since one student cannot direct, act, film, and edit her or his film all at one time.
Depending on the size of your class, we recommend one of the following methods for structuring the work your students will do to make their own films.
Option One: Have the entire class work together on one film. Students can take turns each week being the director while learning about the many important roles in the filmmaking process.
Option Two: Break the class into two groups that will each work on one film. With this option, beginning in Lesson 4, groups will take turns filming and editing their movies. While one group uses the equipment, the other will complete an in-class activity.
Option Three: Break the class into multiple groups (2-3 each) that will each work on one film. With this option, beginning in Lesson 4, groups will take turns filming and editing their movies. While one group uses the equipment, the others will complete
an in-class activity.
Above all else, though, this course is about creativity and having fun. Remember, your enthusiasm is contagious. You’re your students’ biggest cheerleader, so as you lead them through each exercise, encourage them to ask questions, think intentionally, and, most importantly, be creative!
A Note About Supplies
Each lesson comes with a complete supply list and all the handouts for each activity. Many of the supplies needed are found in most classrooms, others can be found at any local retailer. A complete list of supplies by lesson is included with this download.