by Gerard Harris
Whether you’re a student looking to get into the film industry or a teacher looking for reference points to help your pupils, you’ll need all the online resources you can find.
To make things a little easier for you, the film section of Tuppence Magazine has put together a list of the 25 best learning resources for film studies available online. It covers everything from film theory and study points to filmmaking, behind the scenes advice and useful inspiration, providing a wide range of options for teachers and students alike.
25 Resources For Teaching With Movies And Film
Empire magazine may not seem like a go-to place for the finer points of movie theory, but its film studies 101 is a great section to find info on all aspects of filmmaking. Great movie moments are dissected in detail, technical complexity is explained, on-set jargon is made clear and behind-camera movie roles are discussed.
Sometimes it’s not necessarily what you know, but who you know and KFTV could be your inroad to a wide knowledge of all areas of the film industry. Within its confines you’ll be able to search for film, TV and commercial production service companies in 173 countries, so if you’re looking for potential employers or an equipment rental company for the latest project you’ll be able to find the contact details on KFTV.
Sadly, the BBC has stopped updating its online filmmaking section, but that doesn’t stop it from being a solid go-to place to find out more about the industry. It’s got some great guides, features and case studies to give you a little insight into what actually goes on behind the camera. Set visits, how-to guides, the legal and rights side of the industry and a little information on funding all get the BBC treatment, making it a
good online resource to check out.
The BFI’s education and research section is another wealth of knowledge when it comes to film studies. It’s got sections for learning and teaching, along with information about its funding schemes, tips for film academy graduates and entertaining and inspiring ways for young people to understand film. You can also find out more about the industry with its series of statistics and reports, which might come in handy if you need to factor in some data into your class notes or essays.
Inevitably, Wikipedia is going to be a pretty valuable resource for everyone interested in the film industry, and one of the best place to start is on its page dedicated to film studies. It’s got a useful series of links to key filmmakers and film critics to find out more about, but this will lead you into a Wikipedia research run that could see you finding out more about film theory, film noir or the early history of the art.
If you’re looking for image based inspiration, Pinterest can help you find great infographics, movie posters and checklists. In this film studies board, Candice Lela has done a good job of compiling some useful items to kick start your research and learning. The Pinterest search bar also makes for a good tool, so you’ll be able to put some visuals behind your study notes, no matter what movie you happen to be writing about.
David Bordwell’s cinema site is a useful place to read up on the finer points of the art. There’s a lot to read but there’s plenty of great nuggets of information, insight and inspiration to find. It includes books, video pieces and essays, along with news and blog posts from the movie industry.
Sparknotes has got a relatively brief section on film studies that gives you a whistle stop tour of the theory and history that sits behind it. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it does package things up into chunks of useful content, making it a good online resource to help you to summarize things into easily understood overviews.
Questia’s film theory section will come in handy if you need to find books on the subject for further research, study or class preparation. It’s broken down into related topics too, so you can dig into more in-depth study streams like feminist film theory, film criticism, and film genres.
This website is dedicated to the filmmaking side of things, providing advice and information on everything from how to become a successful filmmaker to what gear you can get to start things off. It’s got help on finance for projects, case studies from existing filmmakers and avenues to go down in terms of selling your end product, whether it’s a short film on iTunes or the big leagues of Hollywood.
If you’re looking to go guerrilla on your filmmaking next steps, you can find a lot of insight about making independent movies thanks to the work of Indie Movie Making. The website may not be the most polished out there, but there’s a lot of good intentions locked inside its confines with articles on finding composers, improving set design and cheap methods of achieving cinematic lighting. The only downside is that it hasn’t been updated for a while, but there’s still a lot of good stuff in its archives.
As the strap line for the website says, LA Video Filmmaker is hard-earned advice for filmmakers. It splits its advice posts up into topics covering a wide range of subjects including directing, editing, screenwriting, sound, design, distribution etc. It’s a pretty exhaustive list and within each subject area there is an abundance of useful information for anyone looking to get into the film industry, or to teach it as part of a film studies course.
The Script Magazine’s hub for movie makers continues to be updated with the latest from the world of filmmaking, making it a good online resource for up-to-date advice from the great and good within the industry. You’ll find a regular stream of help on film editing and screenwriting, setting up productions, directing and intellectual property rights, as well as on-location insight from directors and producers in the process of shooting a movie.
It’s good to add in a few video resources to your online research for film studies and the guys at this channel walk through a lot of practical examples for filmmaking on a budget. It will help you to understand everything from the importance of lighting to the science, tech and equipment that goes into making movies.
Another good YouTube channel to check out is this one on filmmaking, which is much more tuned in to the film theory side of the coin than Andyax above. As well as providing similar practical how-to videos, it also covers topics like storytelling with cinematography, the origins of acting and method acting and the art of editing film.
The wonderful guys at Pixar have also taken a little time away from creating some of the most impressive animation movies of all time to give us a back stage pass to snippets of the activity that goes on behind the scenes at their HQ in sunny California. It’s been created as a series of video interviews with its producers, directors, animators and designers, so it’s practical experiences from the people that actually do the work.
It’s a nice way to get into the heads of people that have already made it in the business and the thought processes that they follow when starting a new project, whether it’s designing a characters by looking into the eye of a cow or directing an animated movie in general. There isn’t huge amounts of technical content on this site, but it does make for an interesting look at the work of key figures in the animated movie industry.
This little site on how to write about film may not look very fancy, but it’s got a few useful notes on the importance of paper topic choice, along with information about getting your introductions, conclusions and thesis statement right. It also comes with a few sample essays to act as a guide and a useful glossary on key terms to demonstrate understanding in an essay.
18. Film Analysis
Film analysis and writing about film continues with this short, scrolling one-page guide that takes you from provisional notes to your final essay. It’s pretty basic, but sometimes it’s important to remind yourself of the simple principles you need to follow to write well.
If you want to take your film studies writing notes and plans up to the next level, this PDF from the Writing Centre at the University of Colorado could help to get you there. It provides a few strategies to keep your critical thinking active in the dark of the cinema and uses Timothy Corrigan’s A Short Guide to Writing About Film as its framework, identifying three major genres of film writing; the movie review, the critical essay and the theoretical essay.
This is the kind of resource that speaks for itself. Martin Scorsese knows a little about the film industry and when he mentions 85 movies you need to see to know anything about film you should probably take it seriously. Reading the page is enough of a time consuming effort in itself, let alone dedicating the time to watching each of the movies listed, but out the other side you’ll probably be ready to take on any film studies challenge thrown at you.
This post from the Guardian newspaper provides a little nudge in the direction of what a film studies degree actually means out in the big wide world. As it rightly says, the film industry is indeed notoriously competitive, so the article looks at the transferable skills graduates develop as a part of their degree. It also provides more information on the type of jobs that students can aim for post-study.
If you or your students are at an early stage in reviewing the possibility of a future film studies degree, it’s worthwhile looking at the details about the courses from the universities directly. Not all of these are very useful, but the information on the Portsmouth University page gives a good grounding in what to expect. It covers everything from the type of facilities and features that should be provided along with more information on future career opportunities to take into account.
In addition to watching the 85 movies that are close to Martin Scorsese’s heart, it’s also a good idea to be aux fait with many more of the greatest movies of all time and this top fifty from the BFI is a well balanced starting point. Hitchcock, Welles, Kubrick and Ford all get high places in the list, along with a few lesser known gems for you to build up your knowledge banks on.
Sound and film scores make up a a big part of understanding the impact of cinema, so this piece on how to score a movie makes for a nice reiteration of this principle. Looking at the scores created by Michael Giacchino for films like Up, Super 8 and The Incredibles, it discusses the thought process that goes into creating memorable music in movies and TV.
Continuing the closing oracular segue is another great online resource from the guys at You Shoot I Score, which is written by composer Ned Bouhalassa. It’s heavily targeted at composers that are interested in getting into the film industry, but it also answers a lot of questions that might be beneficial for anyone looking to find out more about composing movie scores.
25 Resources For Teaching With Movies And Film