The Language of Cinema
Name of lecturer(s)
Learning outcomes of the course unit
General Expectations: learn to...
develop clear communication skills, using appropriate film terms
constructively critique your peers
work respectfully, responsibly, and safely
manage emotionally demanding situations (your own and others)
Pre-Production: learn the basics of…
script break down and interpreting dramatic material (scene study and analysis)
creating storyboards and shot lists (visual storytelling skills)
staging, blocking, and camera movement
creating shot lists and schedules
Production: learn to...
communicate your vision to all collaborators, including the subtext of each scene
manage a set by assigning tasks to each crew member
edit while you shoot (using dailies to build on performances)
Mode of study
lectures + practical classes
Prerequisites and co-requisites
This course will focus on mastering the basics of film grammar, with an emphasis on visually translating scripted ideas into short, narrative films. Working in small groups, students must complete weekly film exercises, with strict guidelines. Through workshops, film exercises, classroom discussions, additional assignments, and watching short clips, this class will explore the role of the director and supporting crew members through concept, pre-production, and production.
Recommended or required reading
Film Directing Fundamentals (3rd Edition, 2001), by Nicholas Proferes
On Directing Film (1991), by David Mamet
On Directing (2009), Elia Kazan
Making Movies (1995) Sidney Lumet
Film Directing Shot by Shot (1991), Steven D. Katz
Grammar of the Film Language (1976), Daniel Arijon
Moviemakers' Master Class (2002), Laurent Tirard
Assessment methods and criteria
Students should attend all classes and complete all necessary assignments and homework.
Basis for Final Grade:
Attendance and participation 30%
Film Exercises 50%
Additional assignments 20%
The in-class directing exercises will be done in class, using smart phones or cameras, and then
dicussed as a group. Students will be asked to participate fully in this classroom / studio setting.
Sometimes this will mean performing live edits or serving in other production capacities; other times this
will mean acting on camera or simply sitting in for an exercise.
Attendance / Deadlines:
If a student misses a class, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain any handouts or lecture notes from
the class’s online resource: a password protected blog that will be updated, weekly, with all relevant
materials, including digital copies of all handouts. If students still have questions, they must wait until
after class to schedule a meeting or discuss. Class time is reserved strictly for lectures, in class
exercises, screenings, and discussion.
Lecturer: Mika Johnson
Schedule for winter semester 2020/2021:
Room No. 3
Starts Oct. 5, Hybrid online/on-campus
Schedule for summer semester 2020/2021:
The schedule has not yet been prepared