Our guide to film studies
Kristina K

Our guide to film studies

First published date January 14 2014 Amended date January 14 2014

If you find yourself deeply analysing films, appreciating movies that many others fail to understand, or you’re keen on producing one yourself, then film studies is your calling. Check out the wide range of film studies courses – great for both amateurs and professionals.


An introduction to film studies

Introductory courses are suitable for all levels, providing an overview of the subject for those who wish to build on previous study in related areas. Generally, you don’t need any particular skills or qualifications and you’ll quickly find yourself looking at film’s history and development, exploring a range of methods for analysing films, and considering key movements, filmmakers and films. Some of the topics you’ll cover include: the filmmaking process (things like framing and editing), film styles, movements and eras, and critical and theoretical approaches to looking at films.


Take your love of film further

If you think you already know quite a lot about films and want to learn more about some of the more niche subjects, there are plenty of film studies courses focused on specific areas pertaining to this visual medium. For example, you might study French cinema and gain an insight into the evolution of French society and cinema, exploring the likes of modern multi racial France in Claire Denis’ beautiful 35 shots of Rum.  Or maybe you want to look at film noir and the black and white crime dramas with their distinct codes and conventions? Or how about taking a more light hearted approach and focusing on children’s films and animation? There’s a breadth of choice, whatever genre or era you’re in to.


Behind the scenes

If you’re more interested in learning about producing films and working behind the cameras then a more practical film course might be your thing. Some film studies courses look at what goes into making a film and will train you to develop your own projects, explore video and filmmaking ideas, learn camera and sound techniques and even train you in post-production work. You could also learn to use software like Premiere Pro and Final Cut with short workshops and part time courses suitable for all levels.


Additional subjects

Many film students choose to combine their film studies qualifications with other subjects. These can include modern languages, communication and media, music and English. If you’re considering doing this it’s worth thinking about how much dedication you can give both since taking on two is quite a commitment. However, a second subject can really complement learning about film since you’re increasing the skills you can offer a potential employer and since the film industry is difficult to get into, this can only be a good thing.


What next?

Upon course completion, you should be able to analyse films within a critical framework, identify the key elements of filmmaking, evaluate a range of key terms and themes in film studies, recognise significant periods and movements in film history and demonstrate an understanding of a range of critical and theoretical approaches to film. You may also have some practical knowledge of how films are made and the roles available behind the scenes.

This sort of knowledge and experience could lead to a job on a film set, or in post production, or perhaps you might like to continue your theoretical education and go on to study film further with a degree or postgraduate qualification. You might also consider coming up with research and methods of analysis yourself.


Fun Disney facts

·         The voice of Lilo from Lilo and Stitch is Daveigh Chase, the same girl who haunts our dreams as Samara Morgan in The Ring

·         If you thought Ariel and Belle’s perfect proportions were too good to be true, think again, because they’re based on real-life model Sherri Stoner.

·         Steve Martin used to work in the magic shop at Disneyland

·         If sections of classic films give you a sense of déjà vu, you’re not alone. The company recycled much of its early animation in a technique called rotoscoping, invented in 1915 to help cut costs. Large parts of the 1973 film Robin Hood were taken from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), The Jungle Book (1967) and The Aristocats (1970)

·         Disney parks use a patented ‘Smellitzer’ device designed to pump certain scents around. Whether it’s a waft of sea salt in Pirates of the Caribbean or vanilla in Main Street, you senses are constantly being played

·         Simba is Swahili for lion while Bhalu (Baloo) is Hindi for bear

·         Mickey Mouse was the first animated character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We imagine he’d rather have had a cheese wheel, but you can’t always get what you want

·         To capture the movement of Aladdin’s low cut baggy pants, animator Glen Keane watched M.C Hammer videos. That was his excuse, anyway…


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