Cinematography Unit

Over the past few weeks my Spanish 5 class has studied cinematography.  We first used the works of Spanish-speaking directors/producers to analyze the film techniques that these directors use to communicate a message.  We watched scenes from Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios by Pedro Almodovar, La Lengua de las Mariposas by José Luis Cuerda, and El Orfanato by Guillermo del Toro. We looked at how these artists used lighting, movement of the camera and special effects to portray the feeling of comedy, drama and horror.  I selected clips of each film that we then analyzed as a class.  We discussed the films in Spanish and prepped students for their unit project.  

After reviewing the various techniques in these films, we divided the class into 4 teams.  Each team selected a film genre.  We then brainstormed a storyboard as a class for the movies that each team would create.  I told the students that they could choose whatever topic they wanted as long as all four teams made a film about the same topic.  I wanted the same general events, characters and certain props in each team’s film.  By forcing all the teams to use these similar elements, I hoped that each group would see how the employment of the different cinematography techniques that we studied can create the different feelings of a comedy, drama and horror film.
The class decided they would use the simple topic of cleaning a house.  
The actions needed in each scene are the following:

1. Present scene (clean house before guests arrive)

2. Clean the living room: vacuum, dust, tidy up

3. Clean the kitchen: dishes, moping, take out the trash

4. Clean the bathroom: toilet, mirror, shower

5. Clean the bedroom, make bed, tidy up, clean closet (actors will not actually get to this in the film…)

6. Doorbell rings – someone is there

Characters needed in the film:

– protagonist – age of students in class

– someone at the door

Props to be included in each scene:

– living room: vacuum, pillow, blanket, magazine

– kitchen: knife, trash barrel, banana peel, mop, dishes

– bathroom: toothbrush, toilet cleaner, mirror, towels

Students will be graded based on whether or not they meet these requirements.  The success of portraying the feeling of “horror”, for example, will not be graded, thus allowing the students more room for creativity. In addition to making the film, students had to divide their movie amongst the members of the group and write essays justifying how they used cinematography tricks to create the feeling of horror while sticking to the structure we agreed upon.

This week, we will show the films and discuss as a class the successes/failures of their attempts to create their genre.  Students will have to defend their artistic decisions and explain why they chose those particular techniques.
I have attached three of the films below. The first film is the comedy/action group, the second group is the horror group, and the third is the drama group. These students had limited knowledge about making and editing movies before this assignment. For a first attempt, I think they did a nice job and I’m looking forward to our discussion. If you have a moment, check out the clips and let us know what you think!

La Bomba – Proyecto de Espanol

La Muerte De Los Quehaceres

Pelicula de Drama

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