Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Personal Development Profile for Film and Screen Studies (incomplete)

The Personal Development Profile or PDP was an unmarked assignment that we had to submit as part of my second year studies in Film and Screen Studies, so no wonder no one took it serious, not even the tutors for that matter! 

Admittedly, in hindsight, a personal development plan is exactly what is required to get a person goal orientated on the career path they want to pursue when graduating from university.  Ultimately, I feel a greater inclusion and emphasis of a personal and professional development program would greatly benefit the students who sign up to the current mickey mouse subject that is Film Studies. 

Anyhow, I had to prepare a personal development profile and I do remember doing it the night before the deadline and I also remember what I submitted being quite good, but heaven knows where I put the original file. Therefore, what I have presented here is all I can find of my original PDP...

Week 2 (7) 10/10/2011 - Lecture

The lecture dealt with the beginnings of cinema and its evolution as a technological and artistic medium. A key theme that the lecture raised was the idea of cinema being a manifestation of modernity, or 'a new way of life.' Overall, I found the lecture to be highly repetitive, as it covered the same material which I have already studied in Framing Film. 

Week 2 (7) 11/10/2011 - Seminar

The seminar dealt with the birth of cinema and its evolution into an institution. The first half of the seminar was devoted to picking apart the set reading; a discussion which Suman asked me to begin. This I did by providing a few overall points from the text, such as, that the text dealt with the genesis of cinema as new technological entity and one which was very quickly turned into big business. I also touched upon cinema as being something that started to blend the different social classes together. The rest of the discussion continued in this vain; but, in addition to deconstructing the text, Suman encouraged us think about factors that the text hadn't covered, such as, cinema being a democratic political entity. 

The second half of the seminar was devoted to watching a documentary; which illustrated many of the points that had been raised in the text, as well as introducing new ones. There was no discussion at the end of the documentary as we had run out of time. 

While the emergence of cinema is something which I have been exposed to before, I found the discussion and deconstruction of the text very re-vitalising. It highlighted the institutionalisation of cinema as being an important study of early cinema, and one which I had previously over looked.

Week 3 (8) 17/10/2011 - Lecture

In this lecture we viewed a documentary about the emergence of sound in cinema. It chronicles the varies attempts that had been made but not been a success until the late 1920s with Warner Bros. The Jazz Singer. The documentary highlighted the how the whole of the film industry changed as a result of the introduction of sound. Actors had to be taught how to speak properly and some did not survive the transition from silent to sound, while stage actors, particularly, flourished with the changed. The fact that the studios had to rethink their whole method of production and build new sound stages was also illustrated and explained in the documentary. 

Week 3 (8) 18/10/2011 – Seminar

Today’s seminar was focused on Thomas Edison and D.W. Griffith and the innovations they applied to cinema. We discussed each figures contribution and watch some films from each filmmaker. The Land Beyond the Sunset for Edison. First 12 minutes of Intolerance and Tilly and her Trust for D.W. Griffith. As the whole seminar was devoted to these two figures I actually discovered much more about them then than I had previously. 

Week 4 (9) 24/10/2011 – Lecture

Classical Hollywood. This was the same as the stuff we covered in Intro to Film, only much more complex and in-depth. The Idea of a set of narratives behind Hollywood was explored. The ideological beliefs that run Hollywood were explored. As was the concept of star vehicles and how the introduction of deep focus shots (Citizen Kane) changed the film form of Hollywood. The big five and the little and there struggle to control and get control of Hollywood. 

Week 4 (9) 25/10/2011 – Seminar

We had a screening of Casablanca (Dir. Michael Curtiz, USA, 1942) and were asked to consider and take notes of certain elements from the film.

Week 5 (10) 31/10/2011 - Lecture

It’s a Wonderful Life formed the basis of the lecture. The lecture explored the themes of the film and how it embodies and is representative of classical Hollywood. A key point was of how the film deals with very “modern” themes and challenges the spectator to question the American dream. 

Week 5 (10) 01/11/2011 - Seminar 

Initially, the plan for this seminar was to use it to compare Casablanca with It’s A Wonderful life. However, what we ended up doing was using the first half to make up for what we hadn’t had time for in the lecture. This concerned classical Hollywood being a production line business and where this had come from. The figures of F.W. Taylor and Max Weber, and their scientific management theories, were cited as being the inspiration for this mode of production. We also covered what types of films, or rather what types of thematically stylistic films Warner Bros., MGM, Paramount and Columbia produced. Then we moved onto what caused the decline of the classical Hollywood system. 

For the second half we ended up looking at the questions that had been posed about Casablanca in the previous session. 

Week 6 (11) 07/11/2011 – Lecture

The End of Classical Hollywood. This seminar was pretty much just a reminder of what we have already looked at. We look at the formal elements, such as the intertitle and iris that have largely been abandoned since the end of classical Hollywood. Suman also used various examples of Sherlock Holmes adaptations to illustrate how film form and film subject matter have changed from that of the classical Hollywood system. 

Week 6 (11) 08/11/2011 – Seminar

Classical Hollywood as industry. In this seminar we covered the set reading that had not been covered in the two previous weeks. The significance of the studio system was discussed and the idea of “pure cinema” as advocated by Alfred Hitchcock and later by Francis Truffaut. We also looked at four clips from four different films: Top Hat, Duck Soup, The Mark of Zorro and The Wizard of Oz. Discussing their formal and thematic elements as a class we tried to work out which film was made by which film. This formed into the point that each studio in the classical era specialised in a specific style that was inherent in all the films that studio produced.

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