Monday, December 4, 2006

Suggestions For A Proper Film Education

So I'm not entirely sure what I want to go on in this post, but I think it would be cool if we could suggest some ideas for what a person would need if they were to get a proper film education. This is connected to the film literacy topic. The question is: What is needed for film literacy?

It seems like there are some prerequisites, which would be a love for film in general, before someone would be willing to follow any steps to become film literate.

Then, maybe somewhere in here(let's not be systematic now), one would need a good introductory film text. Cover your bases, read about genre and the auteur theory and the star system, etc. Maybe some neo-realism and a couple of references to narrative convention.

Chris Cagle, a lecturer in film and media arts at Temple University, assesses the worth different intro to film textbooks.

Maybe another suggestion would be to watch some films that are deemed to be classic or essential to appreciate "the best" of what film has to offer. This is probably a debatable question, though. Is there a film canon? This is the title of another thread altogether. Do people need to be tapped into a canon to be film literate? One could probably argue that to understand or think deeply about films, one only needs to know a model in which to do that, and the rest would follow.

In order to be film literate, would one need to have some experience in making movies? In order to be literate in English, in order to understand vocabulary, sentence structure, theses, etc, we write essay after essay in high school and college. An essential part of literacy is the ability to write, so would film literacy require some creative element as well?

So many people watch films, but do not understand them for many different reasons. One, they do not care to understand film. Two, they are not able to read images in the same way that people read words. Maybe it is the case that they understand images, but they could not express this understanding in any way, because people do not have the proper form for explanation. If pressed to explain the information that one gets out of a given image, a normal person would have a hard time doing it. The person might even ask why one would do such a thing. If we are going to be film literate, we need to understand the language of film, which is made up of images. We must understand film composition, editing, mise en scene; we must understand the technical elements of the image in the same way that we understand the technical elements of the word.

What else do we require for our film education? We probably need to find people to watch films with. If it has not become clear to you from English classes, the proper way to read a novel is to have a variety of perspectives. One needs support in one's education. That is sort of what the site wants to be, even if it isn't at this point. In reading the mission statement, we see that the best insights into film our on the rides on the way home, in those discussions we have in which people learn together what they personally and collectively think is important about a given film or film in general.

Anything I'm missing?

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