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Month: March 2022

Moving in Unison Scene Research

Moving in Unison Scene Research

Midsommar – The Feast Begins

As many scenes in our film present groups of students exhibiting identical behavior to create an eery sense of conformity, this scene from Midsommar is a great example of how that cult mentality can be depicted. While the group of people in this particular scene don’t move in perfect synchronization, their movements and their facial expressions still create an unsettling sense of conformity and mindless following.

How could we potentially use a bird’s eye view of a classroom without the capabilities that this film had?

Could a wide angle lens be effective in showing the number of students in the classroom?

Should we show our protagonist/stranger to the cult starting to give into the group behavior or should we only present a rejection of these norms?

Entire scene is completely devoid of music – making the audience uncomfortable with silence

Establishes relationship between cult leaders and followers with costume and set design (different outfits, leaders sit in throne-like chairs)

Slow dolly out to reveal the number of followers involved in this cult

Movements of each follower matches the movements of the leaders – not in perfect unison but still establishing that cult mentality and the weirdness of their mindless nature

As leaders pick up silverware and begin to eat, camera angle changes to a bird’s eye view and then pans across the table set-up to show the consecutive movements of each follower – kind of like a ripple of movement

Character seating placement at table establishes rank

All of the “follower” characters seem to be in a trance throughout the scene, all following the same behavioral patterns and moving based on the leaders’ movements

Even the characters that are strangers to this cult begin to follow the behaviors of the others – giving into that cult mentality and conformity in fear of standing out too much in this foreign environment

Blocking in every shot is almost never focused on one single character – there’s always multiple people in the shot to communicate their belonging to this group/lack of individualism

With the exception of the leaders and the strangers in this scene, the followers are depicted as a group, not as individuals – representing their loss of identity to this brainwashed cult

Sound effects: emphasis on the visible sounds of the scene like forks scraping and the minimal dialog that exists – no presence of external sounds like wind

Majority of characters are entirely emotionless, clearly in a trance

Overall, this scene is a great representation of how to shoot a large group of characters moving simultaneously, as it successfully communicates the lack of individualism in the group and the notion that this is a cult. On top of the various angles, edits, and blocking choices that add to the success of the scene, the lack of music and the emphasis on isolated sounds creates a very eerie and unsettling feeling in the viewer.

Andrew Stanton Storytelling

Andrew Stanton Storytelling

General rules of storytelling

How early should the promise be developed?
Storytelling is joke telling
Stories cross the boundaries of time and allow us to connect to each other
Stories affirm who we are
Make me care with your story
The beginning of a story should give a promise that it’s going to go somewhere
A well-told promise can propel you through the story
Links into anticipation and building tension – don’t make things predicatableStorytelling without dialogue is the purest form of storytelling
“Make the audience work for their meal [but don’t let them know they’re working for it]”
Unifying Theory of 2+2: don’t give them 4, give them 2+2
Every character has an itch they want to scratch – the spine of the character
This “itch” could be positive or negative, but we all have it
Can tension be built even in a “dull” scene? Stories die when things go static, because life is never static
“Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty”
Anticipation is tension – audience wants to find the conclusion but don’t make it predictable
Links into Hans Zimmer’s idea of finding the “rules” of the film and then breaking themStorytelling has guidelines, not hard and fast rules
A strong theme is always running through a well-told story
In other words, make people connect and care!Most important part: can you invoke wonder?
The best stories are able to infuse wonder in its audience
Draw from what you know
Capture a truth from your own experience


Andrew Stanton’s basic, overarching principle of storytelling is to use what you know and make your audience care about what you’re trying to say. Stories are meant to make us feel connected on a deeper level, and according to Stanton, being successful in this means invoking wonder and creating anticipation that keeps an audience engaged.

Session 5 Production Project – The Perfect School

Session 5 Production Project – The Perfect School

Hands Across America, Philadelphia (1986)” by VCU CNS is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.




Intention (SMART Goal)

By May 10th, as part of team 5, I will have added detailed notes to the script and storyboard on music choices and the use of tension building through music using Robin Hoffman’s “What is The Function of Film Music” and MasterClass’ “6 Ways to Create Tension and Release in Music”.


Leader(s) in the Field / Exemplary Work(s)

John Williams

John Williams is one of the most well-known and highly regarded American film composers, having composed over 100 films and having 52 Oscar nominations, five Oscar wins, two Emmy wins, three Golden Globes, and 25 Grammy wins. Some of his most well-known compositions include the score for Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, the first three Harry Potter films, and nine Star Wars films. Williams’ ten rules for success are mostly related to working hard and finding joy in everything you do. Throughout his career, Williams has stayed incredibly humble despite his extensive success and recognition, as he cares deeply for his work as a musician and finds immense joy in his every interaction with music.

Training Source(s)

6 Ways to Create Tension and Release in Music

  1. Repetition
    • Repeating one bundle of chords/notes creates rhythmic tension
      • Predictable pattern and emphasis on particular sounds
    • Sudden chord change to break up repetition can …
      • Produces satisfying release for the build up OR
      • Create more tension
  2. Dissonance
    • Putting two notes together that feel unstable creates harmonic tension
    • Dissonant note pairings are common in horror films to escalate tension
    • Following dissonant notes, you can use consonance or harmony to create release
  3. Key changes
    • Key changes create anticipation for a return to original key
    • Adding minor keys or changing keys contributes to musical tension
      • Listeners feel uneasy until the music returns to its original sound
  4. Dynamics
    • Reach climaxes with increasing pitch or volume (quickly or slowly)
    • Create release with decrescendo
    • Can also use silence to add to the dynamics of music
  5. Restriction
    • Can continue building tension by holding off on release
      • Often used in EDM
    • Climactic moments come with build up of rhythmic patterns
      • “The drop”
  6. Syncopation
    • Syncopated rhythms: disruption to regular pattern of beats
    • Tension builds with off-beat rhythms
    • Release happens when rhythm is on beat
What is the function of film music?
  1. Commentary
    • Commenting on the image presented in each scene
    • Pushing the audience to perceive things in particular ways
      • Heroic, sad, romantic, etc.
  2. Movement
    • Accenting music with every visual movement
      • Often referred to as “mickey-mousing”
    • Often feels cartoony and is useful for slapstick, but can be employed in dramatic moments
  3. Plot Relationships
    • Giving certain characters, situations, or places a “thematic identity” with a repeated song or note/chord pattern
      • Using this can almost act as foreshadowing to an upcoming event or character appearance
  4. Atmosphere
    • Very important and powerful; sets the tone
    • Particular music in an intro: establishing genre or “feeling” of entire film
      • Could be used to set the stage for plot twists as well
  5. Emotion
    • Getting into the emotions of the characters
    • Intentionally pushing a certain feeling onto the audience (tell them how to feel!)
  6. Social, Cultural, or Geographic References
    • Music that represents a certain setting, especially as characterized and perceived by Western ears
    • Alludes to the main setting of the film by making us feel like we’re in a certain location
  7. Time Period References
    • Musical styles change throughout time
      • Use to establish time periods and bring an audience into that time
      • Can be especially useful in flashbacks to heighten audience understanding of the amount of time passed
  8. Connect Scenes or Montages
    • Glue or connect scenes together
      • Harsh cut between scenes is softened with music
    • Especially useful with montages to understand meaning and purpose
  9. Manipulate
    • Manipulating the opinions/perceptions of the audience in the “right” direction
    • Used commonly in propaganda films
    • Useful in misleading audience for a greater plot twist
      • A character portrayed as the “good guy” is revealed to be the villain at the end
        • Use heroic/happy music for his appearances to guide viewers away from suspecting any evil
  10. Perception of Time
    • Altering tempo can push or drag a scene
    • Extending or shortening the actual time passed with differing tempos
  11. Space
    • Using something like a full orchestra matches with deep space
    • A more intimate piano and violin piece matches with shallow space
  12. Unreal Situations
    • Used to characterize nightmares or unreal moments
    • Focusing on the extreme fictional nature of the scene
  13. Contradiction
    • Sounds that don’t match the visual appearance of the scene are unsettling
      • Alludes to something being off
    • Dark music under seemingly neutral dialogue – something is wrong
  14. Parody
    • Music can dictate whether a scene is serious or laughable
    • Often used in comedies to poke fun at a traditionally intense scene
      • Think the final match in Dodgeball: the intense, big “battle” of the film still made comical with music
  15. Physiological Conditioning
    • Influence and stimulate audience emotions
    • Used especially in horror and thriller films to build tension and instill fear in the audience
  16. Size Relations
    • Example of a little boy walking alone through a big city:
      • Visual differences between the boy and the city can be emphasized by music
      • Light flute motif combined with a deeper music provides auditory contrast with visual contrast
      • Can change the degree of auditory contrast if the little boy is developing into a “bigger” character
        • Music can express that new “size” dimension even though we can’t visually see it yet
  17. Psychologically Uniting Listeners
    • Real world example: national anthems working to “unite” a nation
    • In film: more euphoric or heroic scores can be used to “unite” the audience to a common emotion
      • Allows the audience to feel as though they’re part of the scene
    • Using well-known, popular songs can have the same effect as the audience is familiar with the piece
  18. Character Development
    • Music can be used to develop characters or aid audiences in their understanding of said character

Project Timeline

  1. Brainstorm ideas
  2. Create storyboard
  3. Present storyboard to class and get feedback
  4. Create slideshow and share with all team members
  5. Make story adjustments and write screenplay
  6. Decide on location and character roles
  7. Gather/make props, costumes, equipment
  8. Set up shots
  9. Prepare blocking for each scene
  10. Film all scenes
  11. Record all sounds/dialogue
  12. Put all recordings for audio and video in shared Google Drive folder
  13. Decide which scenes to keep, get rid of, or re-shoot
  14. Label final shots and audio clips
  15. Transfer audio and clips into Premiere Pro
  16. Put clips in order and make all edits
  17. Create music
  18. Put audio in and sync up to video
  19. Make all finishing touches
  20. Export final film
  21. Add evidence to slideshow
  22. Present film and slideshow to the class and receive feedback

Proposed Budget


The (FILM, SOUND, or GAME Creation)

The Perfect School

Skills Commentary


I acted as composer – my evidence is on slides 25 and 26.


21st Century Skills

Ways of Thinking (Creativity, Innovation, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving)

Considering the number of actors we used in multiple scenes, creativity and problem solving was crucial to the success and completion of our film. The class we were originally going to use in those scenes was unavailable the day of shooting, so we had to problem solve to try and find a new class last minute. We also had to overcome issues related to the time constraint, as we changed our original filming plans and cut hallway running scenes. On top of this, our editor was absent the entire week of editing, so we had to problem solve in order to ensure we had a finished film with all the necessary components.

Ways of Working (Communication & Collaboration)

Throughout the entire production session, our team was in constant communication, which was especially necessary because we are a six person team. When our editor was out for the entire week of our editing process, we all had to collaborate to make sure we ended with a finished, well-done film. Decisions on cutting scenes, sound design, and music were all a collaborative effort, as we checked in with each other every day and each watched our film before publishing it. We also had to communicate during filming to finish our scenes efficiently, and we collaborated by helping each other out with our individual roles when someone was gone or had to be an actor in a scene.

Tools for Working (Info & Media Literacy)

Due to the limited time we had to edit the film, add sound effects, and create music, I had to learn how to use a music composition site other than GarageBand so that I could work in the classroom and from home. The website I used was called Soundtrap, and I had to learn all of the details and specifics of the site in order to make progress on our film’s music and complete the finished product in time. As a learning tool, I read about the purpose and potential of music in film with Robin Hoffman’s article “What is the function of film music?” and researched how I could create conflict and release in my music with MasterClass’ “6 Ways to Create Tension and Release in Music”. As a team, we used Celtx to write the screenplay, Google Drive to share files, and Trello to keep track of our progress.

Ways of Living in the World (Life & Career)

In this production session, I gained a lot of life skills regarding collaboration, teamwork, and general creativity. Because this was our last film and every team was given the same prompt of “community”, my team and I pushed ourselves to come up with something unique and creative that would stand out among all the other films. Especially during our pre-production and brainstorming process, I learned how to effectively collaborate, and express and communicate my creativity and ideas successfully within a group. When new, often conflicting ideas were proposed, we had to blend them together and work through everything as a team, which I feel is a very important skill to have in the real world. In a more specific sense, I continued my learning about music theory and composition, which is a skill I would like to build upon in the future.

Reactions to the Final Version

“The music built very successfully, starting with a wholesome feeling and then shifting as the tone of the film shifted. The inclusion of the heartbeat sound was also really effective to portray the panic of the character, even though it was a smaller, background noise.” – James

“The music flowed really well and matched the tone of the film, which helped move everything along and provide clarity in the plot.” – Moira

Self-Evaluation of Final Version

Our final film was simple, as we only included shots and scenes that were necessary to develop the plot of the film and communicate our story. It was also emotional, as we used sensory language and specific film techniques to instill fear and create suspense with our audience. Additionally, our film was concrete and unexpected, as we shocked our audience with a final plot twist and addressed the prompt of “community” from a unique perspective.

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

During this project, I learned a lot of technical skills, especially regarding music composition and the specificities of the Soundtrap software. Before this production session, I had only ever used GarageBand, but now that I am well-versed in an entirely new program, I feel more prepared for any music I compose in the future. In a more general, real-world sense, I continued to gain skills relating to leadership and group collaboration, which will be very helpful in the future. I also solved many problems alongside my team members during this production session, as we had a large task including nearly 50 actors that needed to be completed within a relatively short period of time.

Grammar and Spelling

Grammarly, Edublogs Spell Check


Merja Haatanen

Story of Film – Episode 3 – The Golden Age of World Cinema

Story of Film – Episode 3 – The Golden Age of World Cinema

Movie Theater
Movie Theater” by Pioneer Library System is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


The following material is from Wikipedia.

1918-1932: The Great Rebel Filmmakers Around the World

  • The Thief of Bagdad (1924) (introduced in Episode 2) dir. Raoul Walsh
    • Soft lighting, shallow focus, dream-like
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) (introduced in Episode 2) dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer
    • Realism
    • Taking the fantasy and gloss out of main-stream cinema
  • Robert and Bertram (1915) dir. Max Mack
    • Challenge to conventional cinema
    • Over-acting and adolescent
    • Mocking the portrayal of sex and love
  • The Oyster Princess (1919) dir. Ernst Lubitsch
    • Mocking modern-day norms
      • Commentary on capitalism, race, gender, etc
  • The Mountain Cat (1921) dir. Ernst Lubitsch
    • Visually daring
    • Strangely symbolic
    • Surreal production design and screen-masking
  • The Marriage Circle (1924) dir. Ernst Lubitsch
    • Early film after Lubitsch’s move to Hollywood
      • Had to be creative with portrayal of sexuality with American censorship
      • Communicating the ideas of sex and romance without actually showing – we can only infer
  • La Roue (1923) dir. Abel Gance
    • French film
    • Work of impressionism
    • Viewers are able to see inside a character’s mind – flashes of short shots
  • Napoléon (1927) dir. Abel Gance
    • Four-hour film
    • Made main-stream romantic cinema look static in comparison
    • Rethought the camera’s relationship to movement
    • Great showing of dynamism (characterized by vigorous activity and progress)
    • Masterpiece of impressionist filmmaking
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) dir. Robert Wiene
    • Influential expressionist film – looking deeper into the human mind
    • Filled with fear and murder
    • Flooded set with flat light and painted shadows directly on the walls and ground
    • Bizarre imagery – questioning point of view with jagged lighting and space
  • The Tell-Tale Heart (1928) dir. Charles Klein
    • Jagged set design and lighting
    • Directly influenced by Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • The Lodger (1927) dir. Alfred Hitchcock
    • British director – worked in Germany
    • Using similar shadowing and hysteria to Dr. Calagari film
  • A Page of Madness (1926) dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa
    • Japanese film
    • Visual overlays and fast cutting as seen in La Roue
    • Uses complex flashbacks to communicate story of character
    • Goes further than The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari
      • Rather than seeing insanity within one character, the entire film seems psychotic
    • Combines techniques of impressionism with the unease of expressionism
  • Metropolis (1927) dir. Fritz Lang
    • One of the most iconic films of the silent era
    • Portrays a clash between workers and an authoritarian industrialist (set in 2000 in a giant city)
    • Influential with story of exploitation and use of urban landscapes
  • The Crowd (1928) (introduced in Episode 2) dir. King Vidor
    • Influenced by Metropolis
    • Another film set within a city landscape
  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) dir. F. W. Murnau
    • Made by German director
    • Expressionist masterpiece
    • Husband and wife walking through the city through traffic – city shifts to nature
    • Voted the best film of all time by French critics
  • Opus 1 (1921) dir. Walter Ruttmann
    • Looked by biology – painted on glass
    • One of the first abstract animations
  • Entr’acte (1924) dir. René Clair
    • Placed the camera underneath a dancer
  • Rien que les heures (1926) dir. Alberto Cavalcanti
    • Experimental film
    • Used imagery of multiple eyes
  • Spellbound (1945) dir. Alfred Hitchcock
    • Influenced by Rien que les heures
    • Used imagery of multiple eyes within a dream sequence
  • Un Chien Andalou (1929) dir. Luis Buñuel
    • Attempted to show the unconscious works
    • Nuanced and layered imagery
    • Graphic imagery – showing of free association
    • Innovative method of editing
  • Blue Velvet (1986) dir. David Lynch
    • Influenced by Bunuel’s work
  • L’Age d’Or (1930) dir. Luis Buñuel
    • Shocking imagery and editing
    • Members of the Fascist League of Patriots threw ink at the screen and attacked viewers during its premiere
  • Kino-Pravda n. 19 (1924) dir. Dziga Vertov
    • Russian film
    • Camera attached to train
  • Glumov’s Diary (1923) dir. Sergei Eisenstein
    • Eisenstein’s first film
    • Actors performed “mug for the camera” (directly to the camera, posing/making faces to draw attention)
  • Battleship Potemkin (1925) dir. Sergei Eisenstein
    • Using steps as the scene for a murder
    • Dolly movement along the steps as people run
    • Each shot averaged about 3 seconds, much shorter than American or German cinema
    • Portraying panic w/ montage of attractions
      • Emotions come from the screen to the viewer
  • The Untouchables (1987) dir. Brian De Palma
    • American film inspired by Eisenstein’s step sequence in Battleship Potemkin
    • Using splintered editing, short shots, grand staircase
  • Arsenal (1929) dir. Alexander Dovzhenko
    • Ukranian director/film
    • Takes place during time of war
      • Depicts woman standing frozen in the midst of dead villages
      • Shows the partially buried body of a soldier, his face still smiling
    • Shocking and unsettling imagery that evokes emotion in audience
  • Earth (1930) dir. Alexander Dovzhenko
    • Man walks down road, singing to himself but suddenly collapses
      • Left as a mystery to viewers
  • I Was Born, But… (1932) dir. Yasujirō Ozu
    • Japanese film
    • Ozu: philosopher turned into one of the greatest directors to have ever lived
    • Director known for being serious – this film is a comedy but has a level of maturity
    • Naturalistic performances from actors
    • Dark and honest masterpiece of film with great commentary on society
  • Tokyo Story (1953) dir. Yasujirō Ozu
    • Framing mid-shot of female character w/ her almost looking into the camera
    • Lower angle placement than the norm
      • Using hip height rather than shoulder height creates feeling of balance
    • Focus on precise rhythm and matching shots
  • Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) dir. Chantal Akerman
    • One of the few films to use Ozu’s camera height
  • The Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947) (introduced in Episode 1) dir. Yasujirō Ozu
    • Implementation of pauses
      • Giving the story a breather and allowing the space and composition of the shot to also have a breather
    • Ozu’s focus was on centering the human body and de-centering the human ego
      • Creates balance; far different than romanitcism in Hollywood film
  • Osaka Elegy (1936) dir. Kenji Mizoguchi
    • Working around the same time as Ozu
    • Attacking arrogance in Japan and turning focus onto Japanse women
    • Story about a young woman sold into a geisha house
    • Bold staging: character in extreme foreground with action still occurring in background
    • Ends with the young woman on a bridge, contemplating suicide
  • Citizen Kane (1941) (introduced in Episode 2) dir. Orson Welles
    • Welles later used similiar staging to Mizoguchi
      • Background actions still in focus
  • Chikamatsu Monogatari (1954) dir. Kenji Mizoguchi
    • Woman married to overbearing husband
    • Intense scene dealing with an affair and suicide
      • Rather than capture the emotion with well-lit, close-up shots, Mizoguchi uses dark lighting and cuts away to further distance between actors and camera (shot of woman’s back – we soo no emotion)
  • Mildred Pierce (1945) dir. Michael Curtiz
    • American film
    • Female character finds herself on a bridge, contemplating suicide as seen in Osaka Elegy
    • Still romanticism though – scene is visually beautiful
  • Romance of the West Chamber (1927) dir. Hou Yao and Minwei Li
    • Chinese film
    • Typical film – period costumes, iris to emphasize one person/part of shot
  • Scenes of City Life (1935) dir. Yuan Muzhi
    • Evovled towards leftist, realist cinema
    • Use of camera angles and suggestive imagery to convey ideas
  • The Goddess (1934) dir. Wu Yonggang
    • Woman forced to sell her body to pay for son’s education
    • Tracking movement conveys spread of information/gossip among parents
      • Woman is shunned and isolated because of her situation
    • Well-known film for popular Chinese actress Ruan Lingyu
      • Women related to and understood her authentic and genuine performances
      • A beginning of real acting
  • Center Stage (1991) dir. Stanley Kwan
    • Ruan Lingyu played by Maggie Cheung
      • Recreating her mannerisms
  • New Women (1935) dir. Cai Chusheng
    • Another Ruan Lingyu film
      • Playing the role of an actress who committed suicide after being hounded by the press
    • An all too-real relation to Ruan’s life as tabloids trashed her modern, realistic acting in a scene dominated by gloss and sparkle
      • Led to her suicide
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