We know that this may be your first time teaching with film in general and short films in particular. We want to give you all of the background information you need to feel comfortable discussing the medium.
Let your students know if you are learning about film for the first time! It’s exciting to go on an adventure together and see where you end up.
Technically speaking, a film creates the illusion of moving images. A film can be broken down into individual still images, like a flipbook. There are as many types of films as there are kinds of books, writing, or art.
A film generally aims to tell a story.
Ask your students to describe the different kinds of films they have seen. Have they ever seen a live action film, a documentary, an animated film, a science fiction film, a film about history or a film based on a person’s life?
A short film is like a feature-length film except that it’s briefer. It is kind of like comparing a novel to a short story.
We sometimes hear students imply that these are not “real movies” and we explain that films (or movies) come in all shapes and sizes.
Here we can revisit our comparison of the novel to the short story or poem. Some authors prefer to write novels while others write short stories, essays, poems, etc. Filmmakers make short films for many reasons, the simplest of which may be that it is the format they most prefer.
Making a short film is often (but not always) easier and more affordable than making a feature film. Short films are made by small creative teams or even a single filmmaker.
A film made from a series of drawings, computer graphics, or photos of objects that seem to be in motion because of small changes in each frame.
A nonfiction film which captures real life or investigates an interesting real-life story. Documentaries can “document” history and/or teach something to the audience.
A film created in the style of a documentary, but clearly fictional. Mockumentaries are humorous “spoofs” and meant to be entertaining. These are not to be confused with a fake documentary that might be meant to mislead people.
This type of film uses real people, animals, or settings. A live action film can be nonfiction or fiction. If a live action film tells a fictional but realistic story, this is called realistic fiction.
The songs or music heard in a film. Alternately, the sound, speech, and music recorded for a film.
A series of drawings, similar to a comic strip, which act as a plan for the scenes, shots, and look of the film.
Words shown at the bottom of a screen that translate the dialogue when it is in another language.
Recorded dialogue, usually narration, which comes from an unseen, off-screen voice, character or narrator.
point of view (for film)
A point of view shot (also known as POV shot, or first-person shot) is a film scene that is shot as if the viewer were looking through the eyes of a specific character.
A problem that characters encounter and set out to solve in a story.
The solution to the conflict.
The most intense part of a story where the main conflict is faced.
The words the characters say.
Details that hint at upcoming events in the story.
A specific type of music, film, or writing. There are many different types of genres, including documentary, drama, comedy, etc.
The main idea of the story, which sometimes teaches a lesson.
The main character in a story or film.
The character in a story or film who opposes the protagonist.
A character who relays the events or information of a story in their own words.
point of view (for storytelling)
Refers to who is telling, or narrating, the story or film. Authors and filmmakers use points of view to shape a story through a selected perspective.
The use of symbols or images to represent ideas or qualities.