Independent Study Unit on a Notable Film Director (for Media Studies or Film Studies)
Students choose a notable film director and write in some detail about two of his or her films. They have to identify ways in which the director develops theme through the skillful use of a range of techniques, including camera angles, shot composition, music, lighting, costume, make-up, and editing decisions. In addition, students research the life and work of the director.
Finally, each student gives a presentation that includes a detailed analysis of a 5-minute film clip. Students have to demonstrate the ability to identify ways in which ten different directorial decisions contribute to the development of any or all of the following: plot, theme, character, atmosphere, and symbolism.
There are five assignments in this unit:
Assignments 1 and 2: Responses to and analyses of two films
Assignment 3: Biographical research from databases
Assignment 4: Works cited (in MLA format)
Assignment 5: Final presentation
Detailed requirements for each assignment are provided, along with clear mark schemes and marking criteria. In addition, there are both instructional and exemplar materials (for use with assignment 3) to help students improve their point-form note-taking skills. The final 2 pages of this 11-page unit are simply a list of some suggested directors, with the titles of their most famous films.
I have taught this unit for many years as part of a grade 11 media studies course. The requirements for each assignments are detailed and clear and this helps support the work of all students, whether they are in the applied or the academic stream. The unit also provides ample opportunity for strong students to explore the work of their chosen director in more depth. I find that students usually enjoy watching and discussing others' presentations.
I allow students 2 weeks to complete assignment 1 (as homework) and a further week to complete assignment 2. I book them into the library for 3 lessons to work on assignments 3 and 4 which are due a few days later. I intersperse the presentations with other activities to avoid a long run of lessons consisting only of presentations. This entire unit is 20% of the final mark for my media studies course.
This unit was written by Dumbledore, who will soon be posting other tried and tested materials suitable both for media and film studies courses and also for the media component of English courses.