Comparative Study Project

In year 13 you have to conduct an independent comparative study of two films.

The outcome for this unit will be a video essay in the style of Lessons from the Screenplay, in which you compare two films from different times and/or places. This video essay will be sent for external assessment and is worth 20%.

There must be an element of independent research in this project.

All sources cited must be referenced using the Harvard system of referencing.

The Film Focus

This is the academic approach or framework which you use to study the two films, you can choose from the following:

  1. Film Movements
  2. Film Genre & Film Style (Sci Fi, Westerns, Crime, Film Noir, Musicals…)
  3. Film Theory (Auteur, Feminism, Marxist, Formalist, Semiotics…)

During this 1/2 term we are going to do a dry run, which will serve two purposes:

  1. Prepare you for this year 13 unit
  2. Act as research into your first full production (a horror sequence)

The Project Details:

Film Focus: German Expressionism or Vampire Horror
Film 1) Nosferatu (1922) Mernau

Film 2) Let The Right One In (2008) Anderson

Areas of study:
  1. How and with what effect are specific film elements of German expressionism used within a contemporary horror film?
  2. From Nosferatu to Eli. How has the representation of the vampire changed to reflect contemporary values, attitudes and beliefs?

Please watch Let the Right One In and  Nosferatu (last half if you can’t cope with the whole thing).


If you would like to extend your understanding of German Expressionist film movement you should also watch:

The Cabinet of Dr Calagari (1920) Weine

Directing 101

The director is best though of as the conductor of the film orchestra.

He or she will direct all the heads of department in order to realise her or his vision, which is inspired by the screenplay.

The director must develop creative collaborations with key personnel. The…

  • Production Designer (Costume, Props, Set, Hair & Make-Up)
  • Cinematographer
  • Editor
  • Sound effects and Foley
  • Music composers
  • Actors

In this (Short Screenplay) task the director will be responsible for:

  • Annotating the Screenplay
  • Agreeing Shot list & Storyboard
  • Collaborating on character design
Production (Filming)
  • Discussing the shot set up with the cinematographer
  • Blocking the action
  • Giving actors direction on body language and delivery of their lines.
    • Remember to think of their motivation (wants and needs) & given circumstances
      • Conflict = drama!
Post Production
  • Collaborating with editor on final cut and agreeing completion.

Review individually review the two videos below.

Be prepared to summarise the key points for directing discussed to your partner:

Blocking a Scene

Giving Notes to Actors

Screenwriting 101

Lessons from the Screenplay

Lessons learnt…
  1. Action lines (in the script) give the scene a sense of atmosphere. They also give actors and directors guidance about their characters and the tone of the scene.
  2. The last line is the point of the scene.
    • Funnel the scene down to its final point of crisis or tension.
  3. Subplot characters echo and foreshadow the narrative journey of the central protagonist.
Your Screenplay

Write a short screenplay:

  • Your screenplay should be formatted using this preformated document.
  • …should be no more than 1 page.
  • …should have a clear climax.
    • The final line should define the scene. Final lines:
      • ‘…it was stolen!’
      • ‘…I think I’m lost!’
      • ‘…you never understood!’
      • ‘…you’re too late!’
  • It should contain a major and supporting character.
  • It should be achievable to film in 8-12 shots some of which could be repeated.

Reflective Journal


Formatting screenplay rules in brief.

Lesson from the screenplay video embedded.

Your learning on how to shape a scene in a screenplay, develop character notes and build towards a conflict / crisis.


Creative Intention

To write a screenplay for a simple scene. The screenplay should include character notes/directions and build to a clear moment of conflict/crisis at the end of the scene.

Decisions you made when writing the screenplay. This must include quotes from your screenplay. Examples could include:

  • Character description.
  • Action lines / dialogue which develop the conflict in the scene.
  • The notes / recording from your group reading and discussion on your screenplay.
    • Did your peers identify character notes and the building conflict?
  • A link to the screenplay that was chosen by the group.
  • Comments on why it was considered by the group to be the most effective.
Development & Extension

The 5 act structure and the self contained structure of each act.

  • Linking narrative with screenplay writing

Screenplay Format

One of the things you need to learn is how to correctly format a screenplay.

The rules we are going to follow are set down in this section from a book on screenwriting, called ‘On Screenwriting’ by Freddie Gaffney.

Here is a section from this book, which sets out the standard rules for a screenplay format.

Here is an annotated image of a  screenplay format:

Click to Open

Here is an extract from the film American Beauty (1999) Mendes, which has had its formatting removed.

Take a copy and then use the formatting rules given by Gaffney to reformat the screenplay correctly.

Here is a summary checklist of Gaffney’s formatting rules or use the image above:

Here is the scene from the film

Write a film score

Creative Intention:

Compose a short film score to play parallel with the action. The music should reflect a sense of panic and urgency or apprehension and fear (delete as applicable).

Source Film

You can download the video here.

Composing the music

You can either use Adobe Audition or Garage Band (if you have access).


Adobe Audition

Samples and Loops for Audition

Click here to go to our library – you will need to download the samples you want and copy them into your D Drive Project Folder

Sound 101

We have already done some basic exploration of sound when we did the foley sound exercise. This week we are going to go into much more detail in terms of how to describe sound in film and analyse the meaning communicated.

You will be completing an analysis for independent study.


You need to be able to describe all the elements of sound that feature in a film. Here is a diagram of those elements that you need to describe and analyse.

Sound Diagram

Diegetic Sound (includes foley)

Non-Diegetic Sound

We’re going to do an analysis of the sound in this sequence from The Return of the Jedi (1983) Marquand, from the beginning to 5.04.

Watch through the clip and make notes using a copy of this document to make your notes.

They key to this is to describe the examples of the various sounds from your text clearly. Here is a blog with some useful ideas about how to describe music.

Long Term Camera Loans

Do you need a long term DSLR loan?

A Canon DSLR + tripod is available to borrow if you do either Media or Film Studies.

Loan period will finish at the end of the Summer Term (Friday 10th July 2020).

You will need to pay a £50 deposit, which is returned to you when you return the complete kit.

See Mr Gregson to arrange the loan.

Continuity Editing Task

Creative Intention for the week

To film and edit a continuity sequence that builds to a tense climax.

Portfolio Page

This page must will be split into three sections:

1) Inquiry


Find Continuity Edits in Hell’s Club

Identify two examples of each of the following. Note the time code when the following edits / shots takes place in the sequence.

  • Establishing Shot
  • Eyeline Match
  • Cross cutting
  • Match on Action
  • 180 Degree Rule
  • Fast cutting speed
2) Action

“Film a character walking down a corridor, opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue.”

In the edit you must demonstrate understanding of

  • match on action
  • eyeline match
  • cross cutting
  • shot/reverse shot
  • the 180-degree rule.

Here is the script which we would like you to use.

You will be working in groups of three for this task and must each shoot the sequence, which you will be editing later this week.

Edit your sequence in WeVideo


Here are two example preliminary tasks made by teachers, spot the mistakes:

Your Page:

Creative Intention as the title

  • Explain the role of editing in controlling time & space in a continuity edit
  • Explain the filming / editing techniques you are going to have to employ
  • Explain how the script became a shot list
  • Explain how you filmed for continuity
  • Explain how you achieved the techniques in the edit.
  • How did you use editing to control space and time, action and reaction?
  • How would you do the project differently in terms of filming and editing to achieve a better effect next time?


Here is a great analysis of framing and editing and answers the question ‘Who Wins The Scene’

Editing 101

Editing, the connectives in Film Language

Think of cut as connectives in a sentence

…so, and, then, but, however, meanwhile…

How then does does editing create meaning if it’s just simply links in the film?

Well first of all, the edit constructs the meaning in the minds of the audience.

Task 1

Recap by defining and exemplify the Kuleshov effect…

Editing – Time, Space and Attention

So…OK…it’s the connectives of film, such as: ‘so’, ‘and’, ‘then’, ‘however’, ‘meanwhile’… which the audience link to make connective sense of two images.

  • It’s also think about how editing shifts the film in time…such as, ‘Later that day’, ‘Earlier’, ‘The following morning’, ‘8 years later…’, ‘Flashback…to recap important narrative information’…
  • It can also be used to draw audience attention to specific elements of mise-en-scene which are important. This is usually in the shape of characters view of what they see, although not always (often the audience know more than the characters) and this gives rise to dramatic irony.
Textual Analysis of Editing

Identify the editing techniques used in this sequence.

Analyse how these editing techniques create meaning and sense for the audience.

You should use this handout to complete your TEA and then upload to your reflective journal under editing, along with a link to the clip.


The graphic match: