Why This Class

Your student loves movies. Through movies, they experience the joys and sorrows of the human story—and everything else in between. If your student shows a natural interest in becoming a filmmaker themselves, this course will introduce them to the intricacies of how meaningful films convey ideas and emotions.

Mentors in this course guide students in a study and discussion of multiple classic films. Through a series of hands-on projects, students explore the principles of storytelling, cinematography, production, and editing that make great movies tick. Students also study film history, write a screenplay, and record a 60-second film to prepare for a significant final project: creating a 3-5 minute narrative short movie, which they share with the entire student body at the annual Williamsburg Film Festival.

By completing this course, students learn to recognize how films resonate with human emotions. They gain a foundational knowledge of screenplay writing and editing skills to help them achieve their filmmaking goals, whether as a hobby or in pursuit of a future career.

Overarching Questions

How has film impacted society?

What techniques do film directors use to convey ideas?

What are the elements of a story?

How do I create relatable characters?

What can special effects add to my film?

Reading List

Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know by Jennifer Van Sijll

Screenwriting for Teens: The 100 Principles of Screenwriting Every Budding Writer Must Know by Christina Hamlett

Hugo (2011) Film directed by Martin Scorsese

Course Details

Recommended Grade: 9th (Freshman) – 12th (Senior)

Prerequisites: None

Estimated Weekly Hours: 4

Format: Live

Credits: 0.5

*Please note that the following equipment is required to participate in this course:

  • Any video camera that can import footage to a computer. If possible, avoid using a smartphone or tablet. If you need to do so, please invest in an inexpensive tripod.
  • A computer video-editing program. If you have a Mac, we will be using iMovie (which comes free with all Macs). If you have a PC, we will be using Windows Movie Maker, which comes free with PCs.
  • Celtx, a free, pre-production software program. We will be using this to write our screenplays.
  • Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. If you do not have these already, OpenOffice and LibreOffice offer acceptable free alternatives.