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Film Studies Structuralism, Semiotics, and Auteur Theory

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Chris Bainbridge

on 30 April 2013

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Transcript of Film Studies Structuralism, Semiotics, and Auteur Theory

Auteur theory what is it? Theory 0 + - = 9 8 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 c The Boodle page is up and running...

Unit 27: Film Journalist Twitter hashtag for Unit 27 is... INTRODUCTION
•Auteur theory
•Queer theory
•Psychoanalytic STRUCTURALISM Structuralism looks at a film as a set of patterns, relationships, or structures.

Structuralism believes that we see/ understand/ enjoy films through recognition of these structures.

The meaning of a film comes not so much from inbuilt (inherent) meanings of its individual elements, as from how they interrelate within what we know as a films "structure" or "system" Unit 27: Film Studies SEMIOTICS Media Theory You have been given three projects by Hello You Creatives, The Basingstoke Gazette, and Red Carpet Screenings to help you show their audiences how the cultural investment, meaning, and theoretical approach to film can enliven, enrich, and enhance appreciation whilst helping inform creative students’ future production activity. You will build an academic and journalistic portfolio of work analysing film on WordPress whilst receiving support throughout the project. On twitter you will have help with the hashtag #bcotfilm while Guest Lectures from local film-makers Geoff Harmer, Mark Brennan, and Seb Hall will guide you as you carry out the following: YOUTUBE FILM THEORY TUTORIAL (LO1)

You will create a journalistic YouTube Film Theory Tutorial for Hello You Creatives educating young people as to how theories and methods can be applied to film using a creative application of stills, clips, and ‘talking heads’ to illustrate your points.

You will use extracts, whole films, and/ or genres as examples. FILM PRODUCTION PODCAST or ESSAY (LO2)

The Basingstoke Gazette have asked you to produce a podcast OR write an illustrated piece comparing the productions of two films from different decades.

The purpose of the work is to help stress the importance of how different production contexts and factors influence the production of films. GENRE AUDIENCES DOCUMENTARY (LO3+LO4)

You have been given an opportunity by local Film Festival: Red Carpet Screenings to explore the often complex relationship between audiences and films in a Documentary.

In pairs you will use a specific film case study to help you investigate publicity, marketing, and target audience methods used by the Producers before looking in more detail to the genre your specific film case study belongs to. FILM THEORY
(define them all – analyse at two) For example, structuralism emphasises the importance of narrative theories and other recurring patterns/ content that help the audience understand what is going on.

By using recognisable structures (eg genre films) the audience can easily understand its meaning Genre is considered as a structure/ set of conventional patterns.

Plot structures are recurring story patterns that are a defining characteristic of a genre.

Structuralist theorists such as Barthes, Levi-Strauss, and Todorov have analysed plot patterns found in fairy tales and other traditional narratives as these appear in contemporary film. The way a camera is used to tell a story can also be analysed as structural elements as it uses the structure of film language to communicate with the audience.

Structuralism is about semiotics which is, as you know, a concept of codes to discuss conventional ways that things are done in media texts.

Codes are cultural phenomena because they are learned.

It is through familiarity that codes come to seem natural rather than cultural: this process is called "naturalisation." There are various categories of codes:
Cultural codes include the way that texts signify, for example, beliefs about gender, social class, and authority.

The Hitchcock blonde, for example, brings together various ways of representing gender, class, and sexuality, which in turn reveal cultural beliefs in those areas.

Cultural codes are particularly likely to become naturalised, as in notions during historical periods of what was considered the inherent nature or men or women, or particular national or racial groups. Technical codes, in film, describe the ways we have learned to "read" visual information, include such things as continuity editing, point of view and reaction shots, cross-shooting and over-shoulder shooting, dissolves, and montage.

Technical codes involve both techniques of making movies and, for viewers, learned ways of seeing them. Technical codes have thematic implications as well: for example, a dissolve suggests a connection between two otherwise-unrelated images; a tilted composition suggests uncertainty or danger. An example of how structuralist theory can be seen in film is understanding how the simple combination of shots can create an additional idea

The blank expression on a person's face, an appetising meal, and then back to the person's face.

While nothing in this sequence literally expresses hunger or desire the juxtaposition of the images convey that meaning to the audience. Structuralist film theory emphasizes how...

Films convey meaning through the use their structures of codes and conventions (narrative, camera shots etc.)

This is similar to the way...

Languages convey meaning through the use of their structures of codes and conventions (words, sentences, grammar etc.) STRUCTURE OF CULTURAL CODES STRUCTURE OF TECHNICAL CODES Unraveling meaning can become quite complex.

Lighting, angle, shot duration, juxtaposition, cultural context, and a wide array of other elements can actively reinforce or undermine a sequence's meaning. It is the STRUCTURE of film that we use to understand its meaning.

Films create meaning by using structures (codes and conventions) as a language we can understand. Soviet Film-maker Sergei Eisenstein believed montage to on of the most important aspects of film language/ structure.

He describes 5 types of montage (juxtaposition of shots that alters the meaning of those shots)

You could apply his structuralist theory to a film example of your own.

According to him 'montage' is a structure that enables the audience to gain meaning from film. AIM

To introduce you to
Unit 27: Film Studies and begin applying theory to your film examples for LO1 Objectives

1. Read the Brief and understood how you will be assessed for Unit 27

2. Created a WordPress to document your work for Unit 27

3. Selected extracts, films, and/ or genres to analyse in LO1 (tweet using #bcotfilm)

4. Understood and applied Structuralism to a film example

5 Understood and applied Semiotic analysis to a film example

6. Understood and applied Auteur theory to a film example Activity

Make lecture notes in your WordPress as I detail to you the theories. I have embedded the 'Semiotics' Prezi from earlier in the year in to Boodle for you.

You are engaged in semiotic analysis all the time and have already done it for music videos and advertisements.

If you choose Semiotics as one of your two theories you can now do it for film. Semiotics can be applied to anything which can be seen as signifying something - in other words, to everything which has meaning within a culture. You will apply semiotic analysis to a film/s and to the practices involved in producing and interpreting such texts.

You need to describe the films' signs and what they signify to the audience. HERE IS A GUIDELINE TO HELP YOU CONDUCT A SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS OF A FILM/ FILMS... REMEMBER - Semiotics is the study of signs.

You need to show that you understand how the signs in your chosen film/ films creates meaning for the audience. #bcotfilm This is an idea that a Director's film reflects the director's personal creative vision, as if they were the primary "auteur" (the French word for "author").

It is a view of film-making in which the director is considered the primary creative force in a motion picture. Despite the collaborative nature of film and (sometimes even because of) the production of the film as part of an industrial process, the auteur's creative voice is distinct enough to shine through all kinds of studio interference and through the collective process. In other words, such fundamental visual elements as camera placement, blocking, lighting, and scene length, rather than plot line, convey the message of the film. Supporters of the auteur theory further contend that the most cinematically successful films will bear the unmistakable personal and distinctive stamp of the director such as...

Visual style
Recurring themes
Ideology Famous Auteurs you may wish to analyse...

Tim Burton
Akira Kurosawa
Christopher Nolan
Lars Von Trier
Stanley Kubrick
Roman Polanski
Quentin Tarantino
Darren Aranofsky
David Fincher
Pedro Almodovar
Alfred Hitchcock
David Lynch ACTIVITY

For the remainder of today's lecture you are to do the following...

Gather film examples you wish to analyse
Refine your notes on WordPress
Research further in to the terms Structuralism, Semiotics, and Auteur Theory

If you find any great links please share on twitter using #bcotfilm Next week ACTIVITY

Tidy up your notes about Semiotics for the next 5 minutes and begin selecting the clips you will use in your work. ACTIVITY

Spend the next 5 minutes researching the term 'Auteur' or 'Auteur Theory' before selecting an Auteur you could reference in your work
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