Writing about Film

Film & Television Studies is exactly what’s advertised in the name: the study of film and television. The key word here is “study.” The film department is oriented towards study and critical analysis of film, typically utilizing theoretical frameworks. These sorts of frameworks for examining films can include things like psychoanalysis, existentialism, gender and sexuality, Marxism, and so on. Usually one would ask something along the lines of “how can psychoanalysis help me to interpret this film?” or “how can I look at this film as a statement about class difference?”

There are a million different ways to approach a single film for analysis, and often the essays in this department will recognize that with open ended prompts. Assignments can vary from analytical essays, close readings, comparative essays, and even the creative project of screenwriting.

Writing for Film & Television Studies is in some ways similar to writing about literature. In both cases it’s essential to really know the text or film you’re talking about. Just like you would discuss the meaning of a line in a novel, you would discuss the meaning of a line of dialogue.

Some of the differences in writing show up when you do critical work interpreting some meaning behind the way a shot is framed or the significance of a whole scene beyond what’s being said. It’s a bit different from using a quote in a book like you would for literature.

Overall, strong writing in Film & Television Studies comes from understanding critical concepts as a foundation for analysis and using a film, or several, as the site for that analysis. Once you develop this understanding and have a film to talk about, it’s all about making an argument and proving it. Answer those questions you have about what the film says about gender or class or race. Use what you’ve learned and get out there and write!