Filming Is Easy/Difficult

Emile HolbaJust a wee heads up about your first attempts at filming and why I think it important that you have done them.

I’ll start with what you need to realise…

1) Having a script is essential. Think how quickly you were able to get started because you immediately knew what you had to shoot. Remember this when you come to creating your own product.

2) Keep it simple. Yes, you might want to make a new “Terminator” film, but the reality is that we don’t have the facilities or time (or budget!) to make a Hollywood blockbuster… but we do have the tools to make a movie. It’s all a question of making the best use of what we have… which is YOU, and some imagination. (PS: a script helps…)

3) Don’t be constrained by what you think you know. This is important to remember. You have been conditioned to think about filming and storytelling through years of exposure to media products. We constantly evaluate and judge what we see and experience to make sense of it. This drive allows us to make sense… or more accurately, create a narrative… from very little.

4) You can be fooled. Easily. Look at this painting of a leopard.

optical-illusions-35-1Notice anything about it?

Continue reading

Visions of Light

So… taking a wee break from the intensity of the bits (signs, signifier, signified, anchorage, polysemy, et al), it’s time to remember why we love media, and in particular, film.

I showed you a wee clip from the 1992 documentary Visions of Light. (Available to buy on Amazon) I showed you an extract where Vittorio Storaro talked about some of the decisions to do with colour made when filming The Last Emperor. These included yellow as the colour of the sun, orange for family, red for birth and green for knowledge. There are many other colours with definite connotations, and we will address these in due course… but for now…



Sit back, relax, and sink into one of the most glorious musicals ever committed to film. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darned close to it.


Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952

Singin’ in the Rain is cinematic magic, bouncy, charming, joyful, and exuberant; just the kind of fun-loving movie it’s so hard for audiences to love today. If you’re not accustomed to 1950s Hollywood musicals, Singin’ in the Rain is the best place to start. It’ll make you smile, even if you think you don’t want to.

Essentially, the story is built around a film studio that must adjust to the coming of sound in motion pictures. It’s a story all too common to the history of Hollywood, but here it’s used as a useful excuse for MGM to showcase some of their own song and dance numbers from their musicals of the 1920s and 1930s. If this sounds like an MGM slight-of-hand, it’s a trick worthy of our attention. The film clip for the title number is perhaps the most often shown piece of film in the history of cinema. But as great as this number is, the rest of the film and, in particular, the Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse “Broadway Ballet” number, are also wonderful. As Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and eventually Debbie Reynolds help the studio to adjust to the new era of movie making, a beautiful, jubilant, and exciting masterpiece unfolds before our eyes.


Bring donuts/popcorn/coffee/etc for tomorrow. 🙂

Homework 01

Welcome to the wonderful world of homework… It’s sadly necessary, but I’m hopeful that you will enjoy an awful lot of the extra studying I’ll be assigning this year… especially when it involves watching films! 😉

01 Key Concepts Language.038If you need to remind yourself what is needed, you can check the previous post for the notes. Or… you can post a question using the ‘Leave a Comment’ button at the top of the post.

Finally… don’t forget to attach a copy of your advert or give a URL for it on YouTube if it’s a TV advert (bonus marks if you use a service like!)