Sequence Analysis Project

Description: A sequence analysis is an exercise in which you demonstrate your ability to closely examine one short segment from a film and come to some analytical conclusions based on your observations. Primarily, this demands a shot-by-shot analysis of the film elements in your chosen sequence (mise-en-scene, cinematography, narrative, editing…); however, it also requires that you give an interpretation of how these correspond to and create some strength or impact in the film as a whole. Your work should result in a brief introduction to your chosen sequence; a numbered list of shots with camera distance, angle, and movement labeled; description and analysis of the visual and narrative details that you think are interesting and important in each shot; and a 2-3 page essay discussing your conclusions. Creating your own storyboard sketches for each shot is highly recommended, but not required.
Step 1 Select any one of our course films (chosen from our weekly assigned films or from the list for Short Essay #1)
Step 2 Find a 1 minute sequence (not longer than 2 min) of interest to you – that demonstrates some expressive power within the film as a whole.
Remember that a sequence naturally separates itself from the previous and the next scenes/sequences and contains a unified group of shots. You should select carefully so that you capture a sequence in its entirety.
Step 3 Watch, Re-Watch and Re-re-re-re-watch your chosen sequence!
Get to know it intimately, by heart, engrain it into your brain… Take notes, observe as much detail as you can, notice how the characters or images relate, pay attention to the movement – both of the camera and within the film, listen to the sounds, notice lighting, angles, character/ object placement. Also take note of the pace of the sequence – what is the rhythm of the editing? How does one shot move to the next? Get a sense of how the sequence feels – yes, feels (check in with your body and your emotions) – and think about the overall impact of the segment. What is the most interesting or outstanding quality about it? What effects do you think it has on the spectator; what is your role in the triangle between the filmmaker, the film, and you as the spectator?
Step 4 Write down every shot – numbering them. Then label the camera distance (long, medium, close-up, etc.), the camera angle (high, low, etc.), and the camera movement (panning, tracking, etc.) for each one.
Once you feel like you know the sequence like your pillow and you have a pile of notes and reflections, watch it again – actively pausing the dvd/site to distinguish one shot from the next and the camera position. Especially note camera movement and editing between the shots. For instance, you may end up with: SHOT #1: Medium, low angle, tracking shot. SHOT #2: Tracking full shot, high angle….with a fade in or dissolve or cut between. Also pay attention to the visual elements of the sequence; notice everything you can about how the sequence is visually constructed to create mood, symbolism, meaning…
Step 5 TO TURN IN: Part I: Compile your list of shots and accompany them with a brief but detailed description of the important elements of each. (Does not have to be in sentences, but does have to be thorough.)
What’s happening in the shot? What is visually important? What symbolism can you find? How does each shot relate to the others in the sequence? Is there a thread that runs through them? What’s significant about any repetition you find in the sequence? How does the dialogue/action relate to the cinematography and/or mise-en-scene? What cool new thing did you see the 100th time you watched it?  Use your notes and the film elements that you know. Draw some “storyboard” sketches (stick figures work fine for this!) to illustrate each one. (Optional)
Step 6 TO TURN IN: Part II: Use your observations to identify and examine a particular theme or expressive power in the sequence you are working with – represented by the shots you’ve analyzed. Then consider how this corresponds or contributes to your interpretation/analysis of the film as a whole. Write a 2-3 page essay, summarizing the results of your analysis of this sequence.
Reference the numbered shots from your shot-by-shot analysis as examples to support your main claim.
Final Thoughts, Tips, and Hints:
RESOURCES: Your book, the Writing About Film episode of American Cinema (Annenberg Learner), online guides linked to Brightspace, live/recorded classroom session with cinematography workshop, and the suggested template provided on Bsp, our online live class session to workshop your projects on Tuesday evening, July 9th (WW1 at 6:00pm, WW2 at 7:00pm).
In your shot-by-shot descriptions, be thorough but selective. Use what’s most important and interesting to you about the sequence to thoroughly focus your analysis – so that a “thread” runs through your project.
Talk to me with questions and ideas!
Please refresh your understanding of my/policies regarding plagiarism, as outlined in your syllabus and student handbook.
And don’t forget to have fun! Challenge yourself! Write confidently! Be proud of what you’ve accomplished!
Sequence Analysis Project – Evaluation Guidelines
______ Project Basics (25)
All components typed, professionally/academically presented, in MLA Format
Includes name, date, course, etc…
Appropriate film/sequence choice
Includes sequence description, shot-by-shot analysis, and essay/conclusion
______ Part 1 – Shot-by-Shot Analysis (50)
List of numbered shots
Accurate designation of shot type, angles, and movement
Insightful descriptions/observations of film elements
Perceptive analysis of sequence as a whole
Consistency in format and writing
______ Part II – Essay (50)
Essay format, academic, concise, but thorough
Revolves around a strong thesis statement
Thoroughly describes the impact of the sequence
Supported by evidence from shot-by-shot analysis
Appropriate length (1-2 pages)
Clearly organized with solid introduction, conclusion, and support
Smoothly-written, grammatically-correct writing
______ Overall Excellence/Sophistication (25)
Comes to interesting conclusions
Provides insightful comment, using film tools effectively
Clarity, thoroughness, creativity
Confident, academic voice
Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
Casablanca (Michael Kurtiz, 1942)
Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1967)
Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967)
Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968)
Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)*
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)* * Please Note that this should NOT be the same film you choose screen for Week 11!
The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
Brother from Another Planet (John Sales, 1984)
The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)
Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986)
When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989)
Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989)
Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991)
A League of Their Own (Penny Marshall, 1992)
Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)
Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1994)
Clerks (Kevin Smith, 1994)
Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)
The Piano (Jane Campion, 1997)
Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant, 1997)
Smoke Signals (Chris Eyre, 1998)
Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
Love and Basketball (Prince-Blythewood, 2000)
Mullholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
Frida (Julie Taymor/Salma Hayek, 2002)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Joel Zwik, 2002)
Real Women Have Curves (Patricia Cardoso, 2002)
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
Little Miss Sunshine (Dayton/Farris, 2006)
Babel (Iñarritu, 2006)
Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
La Misma Luna (Patricia Riggen, 2007)
Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007)* – unless this was your selection for Week 5!
Cadillac Records (Darnell Martin, 2008)
Frozen River (Hunt, 2008)
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)
The Namesake (Mira Nair, 2006)
Avatar (Cameron, 2009)
Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)
Twelve Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2012)
Selma (Ava DuVernay, 2015)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, 2016)
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)

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