Motion Pictures/Film Study

© 2006  Frank Baker, Media Educator

Resources on how to read a film, integrating film studies into instruction

See also:
Language of Film                                 – For Your Consideration: Analyzing Oscar Ads
Teacher’s Guide to the Oscars               – Using Film in The Literature Classroom
Film Ed & The Common Core                 –  Movie Trailers As Persuasive Texts
Teaching Critical Thinking w/ Film           –  Analyzing/Creating Film Posters
Using DVDs to Teach Film Language        – Scriptwriting In The Classroom
Documentaries in the Classroom             – To Kill A Mockingbird film study guide


More than ever, teachers are using film in the classroom. This web site is designed to help educators better integrate film into instruction and help their students learn the “languages of film.”

NEW: Behind the Screen (podcast)
Portraits of America: Democracy on Film
Careers in Film Summit
Hitchcock & Truffault (Doc)
TCM’s Film Noir Course
Explore Filmmaking: Script to Screen
25 Resources for Teaching Film/Movies
Movies: The New Literature
In Defense of Film
7 Ways To View Films Critically
Teaching Film & Common Core
Academy Originals Series Debuts
Film Canon Project website seeks teachers input
7 Teaching Resources on Film Literacy
Five Minute Film Festival Film Literacy
Teacher uses film to teach analytical skills
Ten Tools for Reading Film
Questions Students Should Ask When Watching Films
How Does The Film Industry Actually Make Money?
Filmmaking As A Classroom Tool
Inside the Script: new  ebook series
Film: An Art Form That Should Be Taught
Designing the perfect movie poster
How to incorporate lessons about film
Website ( for film educators/students

Film In The Classroom revised (PBS/Masterpiece)
Children’s Storyboards: Key Tool for Media Literacy Ed

: Film Ed Multimedia Resource
Cinematic Magic: Using Film in Class

Using Film In Schools: A Practical Guide
How Movies Work (streaming video clips)
History of Film  (TCM series)
Australian SCREEN EDUCATION resources
ALA’s Knowledge Quest: special Film Ed issue
Online Animation Project Website
Movie Making Featured in TV Ads
Blueprint for Teaching The Moving Image
(NYC curriculum)
Media Literacy: Reading Between The Frames, curricula
Becoming Screen Literate (NY Times)
Movies no place to learn real history
Using Movies In The Classroom (NCTE)
Literature Into Film  (English Journal)
PBS series: history of Warner Brothers Studios
Film: A 21st Century Literacy/ The Meaning of Movies
Indiana Jones Film: Production Elements /Spielberg Directs 
UK kids to study film as media education
Hollywood’s Version of Archaeology

Analyzing Oscar: Deconstructing the Academy Awards


“To read or write the language of media and understand how it creates meaning within particular contexts, one needs some understanding of frame composition, color palette, editing techniques, and sound-image relations as well as the context of signs and images, sound as a conveyor of meaning, and the effects of typography…Such principles as screen direction, the placement of objects in the frame, color choices, morphing, cuts and dissolves all do much more than make a screen communication aesthetically pleasing. They are as critical to the creation of meaning as adverbs, adjectives, paragraphs, periods, analogies and metaphors are to text. Dean Elizabeth Daley, USC School of Cinematic Arts (from, Expanding the Concept of Literacy)

“If video is how we are communicating and persuading in this new century, why aren’t more students writing screenplays as part of their schoolwork?” Heidi Hayes Jacobs, education consultant

“If people aren’t taught the language of sound and images, shouldn’t they be considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read or write?” George Lucas, interview for

“Of all art forms, film is the one that gives the greatest illusion of authenticity…of truth…A motion picture takes a viewer inside where real people are supposedly doing real things…We assume there is a certain verisimilitude, a certain authenticity, but there is always some degree of distortion.”
Annette Insdorf, film historian (author of Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust) quoted in the documentary “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust”

“Movies are a door to knowledge–about society, about prejudice, about history, about art –and teachers are eager for someone to help them make the link between education and film.”
Margaret Bodde, The Story of Movies/The Film Foundation  (Source)

Additional Resources

Films for Learning

Because of Winn-Dixie Read my exclusive interview with Steve Werblun, the storyboard artist from the Walden Media production of “Because of Winn-Dixie;” plus see some of his original storyboard drawings
Weekly Reader’s WRITING magazine (February-March 2007) themed issue Reeling with Words: Screenplays, home movies, and film reviews–we show students what it takes to write for and about the movies. Resources
HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD (Jan. 2007)  Can you believe that the earliest movies cost only a nickel and that the first movie stars were silent? In the January 2007 issue, discover how the first, soundless motion pictures developed into “talkies” and then full-color films. Learn why the film industry moved from the East Coast to a dry, sparsely populated town in California, and discover what light bulb inventor Thomas Edison had to do with it. Learn how Hollywood remakes old classics, works to preserve original films, and uses computer-generated technology to thrill viewers today. Meet the visionary men behind the earliest studios and movies, like producer Samuel Goldwyn and animator Walt Disney. Join COBBLESTONE ® as we explore America’s love affair with motion pictures by looking back to when it all began.

Media Literacy Film Resources:
Teacher resources for media literacy films to show in the college classroom

Focus On Film: Learning It Through The Movies,
Middle Ground Journal, NMSA, October 2006

AFI curriculum available via Discovery’s UnitedStreaming
(link to
press release; release; link to curriculum)

Reading Movies (profile of the Story of Movies Project)

(June 2006) link to full study

Viewing the Films: Not Whether or Not, but How?

Using Film to Increase Literacy Skills
English Journal, Vol. 93, No. 3, January 2004
(companion: How to Organize a Film as a Literature Class)

Using Film, Video, TV In The Classroom

Film and the Composition Classroom:
Using Visual Media to Motivate First-Year Writers

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