02.103 Film Studies: History, Theory and Practice

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This class explores how art and technology are inseparably bound though the medium of film. Students will be introduced to the idea of film as an art form (the “seventh art”): an advanced medium for personal expression and the subject of intellectual discourse, theory and criticism. At the same time, it will be demonstrated that film is wholly reliant on craftsmanship. The class will consider, moreover, how technology has been at the fore of cinematic innovation, and conversely, how filmmaking has fueled technological advancement. Individual sessions will be devoted to the artists, directors, cinematographers and innovators who have shaped the medium of film as we know it today. The course will adopt a broadly chronological approach, beginning with the early pioneers of filmmaking, such as Edison and the Lumière brothers, before moving on the eras (early 1900s, the 1960s, the 2000s) that oversaw the most rapid technological advancement in aspects of filmmaking such as camera technology, sound, montage, colour and television. The class extends to an analysis of the video and digital age, including CGI, animation and 3D technology. Students will consider how rapid advances in technology, the increased availability of digital filmmaking equipment and new means of distribution (i.e. the internet), have impacted on the art of filmmaking, and how these developments will shape the filmmaking practices of the future. The class will also entertain the idea that film criticism and filmmaking are, in essence, one and the same thing. To this end, students will be required to design and execute a short film or multimedia practicum, in which they will explore theoretical questions related to film’s dependency on technology. The course aims, therefore, to promote multimedia literacy through a joint emphasis on theory and practice.

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James Rowlins