“Why do we argue? Life's so fragile, a successful virus clinging to a speck of mud, suspended in endless nothing.” –Alan Moore

Wed, June 11th–last day for Creative Writing

Whew! We’re done…or close to…Let’s get this last bit. Please turn in your final assignment: the 10-minute movie/play onto If that doesn’t work, print me a copy or email me one.


Then, everyone will read their selection to a small group of 4, vote on the one to present to the whole class, and then we’ll see what you got.  Good luck!

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Friday, June 6th–Everyone

Creative Writing–Those plays are due next Wednesday, so get writing!

Film—We’ll finish Pan’s Labyrinth and I’ll introduce our last paper. Also, The Godfather is definitely too long, so we might end with Do the Right Thing.

Here are our final essay questions for Film Class:

  1. What makes a great film? Give 3-5 qualities that a great film must have and use examples from movies we’ve shown in class and movies you’ve seen outside of it to make your case for the qualities a masterpiece must have.
  2. We’ve seen movies that are intricately constructed and controlled–Royal Tenenbaums, The Shining–and movies that are loosely arranged and improvised–Breathless, Chungking Express. Which style appeals to you more and why? Which other movies that you enjoy and admire use these styles? When does control work and when does improvisation?
  3. Consider the relationship of the mise-en-scène to the narrative structure of one of the films listed above by using one short scene (not used in the lecture). Show how the mise-en-scène in that scene functions within the overall form of the film identifying any patterns of parallelism, progression or development. In short how do the elements of the mise-en-scène work together to contribute to the film’s narration. *This question comes from a Southampton College film class.
  4. Who do you believe is the greatest director working today? Explain with examples and evidence from that director’s work?
  5. Compare and contrast one movie we saw in class with another movie you’ve seen. Explain how the director’s choices in each affect the viewer’s experience. Take particular care to look at mse-en-scene, cinematography, and editing.
  6. Write your own question and answer it. As always, include a significant amount of examples, details, and evidence to support your points.
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Monday, June 2nd–Everyone

Creative Writing: Reading day…or work on writing rewrites for short story or continuing work on the scripts.

AP: Memorizing lines from Hamlet, beginning blocking if you’re ready. Finals back at the end of class.

Film: We start Pan’s labyrinth today.

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May 29th–Film

What? You saw Chungking without me?

Anyway, I was going to show Amores Perros today, but we need to talk about it a bit…

And…we need to have a short discussion of Chungking as well. See this article for a bit more help.

Structure: What do you notice about how these two stories are organized? What does the first love story have to do with the second? How about the way time is used in the story?

Culture: What elements in the movie felt Chinese? In terms of values, behaviors, attitudes, rules…What elements in the movie felt Western? Explain.

Love stories: What are the common elements of a love story? Which elements are present in Chungking and which are not?

Symbolic Objects: Comment on the use of some of the objects in the movie and how they function as stand-ins for ideas or atmospheres or feelings. For instance: the pineapple cans, the airplane, a bar of soap, the apartment, eating.

Finally, let’s use the rest of this period as a writing time and take a look at some Mexican cinema next week.

Here are the movies I’m considering:



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May 29th, 2014–Creative Writing

writing prompts.cute.002

OK, so we’re getting close. Can you hear it? It’s in the air…

First, some students are being asked (well, by me) to revise short stories. Mostly, there were a few problems with grammar/spelling and dialogue formatting (click here to see the rules). I’ll ask students to work with a partner to fix errors and resubmit their short stories.

Then, I want to give you the final assignment.

The 10 minute play/movie

Create a 10-minute story that is either formatted and conceived of as a dramatic presentation for the stage or a short movie for the big screen. It’s important that your movies or plays both take advantage of what the medium does best and avoids what the medium has problems with.

Remember, the principles of good story plotting–creating a lead/situation, initiating action, adding stakes/complications, lead to a crisis, resolve. Or…consider a more creative/non-traditional narrative that uses jokes, slice-of-life, absurdity, or other strategies to interest and entertain an audience. See this for a crazy long list of plots.

Screenplay resources:

Playwriting resources


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