Revision Tips: Film

Revision Tips: IB Film

Film is often overlooked as the ‘easy’ subject…

Film is often overlooked as the ‘easy’ subject, one where you can get a grade by sitting around watching movies for 2 years. But anyone who has taken IB Film will know this is not true – in fact, it is actually a very demanding subject. You need to spend every single second of of a film paying attention to detail, thinking about the context, analysing the message and how it was sent. Then you have assessment that are really quite different from those of other subjects. So how can you tackle them?

External Assessment: Presentation

If you chose to study Film because you enjoy watching movies and wanted to explore them more deeply, this assessment will definitely be a fun one. When your teacher lists movies you can choose from, don’t simply pick one you already enjoyed watching. You may not have the time to watch all of them, but at least watch 2 or 3 from the list. As you’re watching keep some papers nearby and take brief notes on possible things you could explore, like themes, context, editing, Mise-En-Scene. Once you decide on a film, it is also a good idea to rewatch it again to list options for the 5 minute sequence rather than choosing the scene you remember most clearly.

During the presentation, explain your findings and analysis. Don’t go too deep into the the plot as the markers know what happens in the film. Focus instead on how the context shaped the film as well as how film language is used to convey a message.

External Assessment: Independent Study

Independent Study is a bit trickier – you have to choose your topic and films yourself. You want to keep in mind that you need films from different countries, so it is always best to keep the topic multicultural or multinational. Comparing styles or particular films of different cultures is a good start, or alternatively you can choose a more general theme apparent in film industries of different parts of the world. You might also want to keep in mind that you need to watch all of your chosen films, so it is a good idea to include some you watched already. Another good tip is to select films of a cultural context you know fairly well already.

Again, be careful not to centre your paper on the plots but focus instead on analysis and observations. Make sure it actually looks like a documentary script, and keep a balance on both visual and audio. Make use of the visual section to explain your analysis, rather than writing a whole essay in the audio section. Remember they are testing your knowledge on Film, so show how film can use both visuals and audio to tell a story.

Internal Assessment: Production Portfolio

If you decided to take Film because you just love making movies, this will definitely be the one for you. Except, you also need to make a portfolio explaining your procedures and outcomes, which may not be your thing. But it will not be difficult if you remember to keep track of everything. Jot down simple notes every time you do anything associated with the project, so that when you write your portfolio you’ll have everything you need to write already.

The difficult part is making the film. You want to remember that you need to take every single step seriously. Brainstorm thoroughly before starting the script, and complete the best draft possible before moving on to shooting. Take every shot you want to take, and don’t ever think you can “edit it out” to cover your mistakes. Leaving things for the next step will only lead to panic and regrets. Allow enough time for each process. An extra day in each step can help you think of a great idea to add to the film, write a brilliant scene, retake shots that are not good enough, and edit the film out to perfection.

Good point here, don’t aim for perfection. Simply accept that we are still students and not professional filmmakers. Although we’ve been watching amazing films throughout the course, they can’t be our standard. We can learn so much from them, but we need to use the resources and experiences we have. Aiming for perfection will only cause an immense amount of stress and depression. Definitely try your best, but think of this film as a huge step in your filmmaking process, not the ultimate end project.

Studying Film is easy to enjoy if you simply like movies. The way you watch movies will change, and you might miss the old days when didn’t have to think about every line, cut, music, or piece of item lying on the desk. But embrace the change and your deepened insight. Enjoy little details you weren’t able to before, and embrace the little film critic and filmmaker within yourself.

Further Reading