Analysis through production

This step looks at the practical approaches to using 'hands-on' exercises with students that supports the analysis of film language.

Analysis through production

Film analysis through practical exercises

The Framework for Film Education emphasises the importance of connecting the ‘three Cs’ of film education - Critical, Creative, and Cultural. Here we look at ways of analysing film through short practical exercises. The theme of Critical-Creative will be picked up later in this resource when we look at examples from the French programme Cinema cent ans de jeunesse and in the section on film education in pre-school.

In this and the next step, we will look at how to use small production exercises as a way in to film analysis. We will offer some background thinking for creating small production exercises and how to introduce them in the best possible way with students. At the end of the next step, you will consider the technical dimensions of the production exercises and discuss how to plan exercises with learners.

Small production exercises are meant to be an integrated part of the analytical work and can be made use of at any point in the film analytical process. You may also consider doing several exercises along the way. Production takes time. The exercises ought therefore to be limited to 25-second films – or shorter.


Use the notepad facility to answer the following questions.

  • Consider how small production exercises can be implemented in your educational situation: What are the technical possibilities and possible challenges?
  • Consider how best to plan and include small production exercises in your teaching: Time, setting goals, group divisions, equipment, etc.

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Practical approaches to hands-on work

Experience, understand and create

Analytical competence is not only strengthened by working analytically with film. When you plan and execute small production exercises in connection with film analysis, the students’ creative skills are strengthened, which motivates further reflection on the language of film and how to use it.

It’s therefore always a good idea to include production concerns when working with film analysis. Learning is a process that not only is about seeing and experiencing but also about analyzing, understanding and creating.

Exercises and organizing

With the advent of various digital media, it has become easier for educators to make films when they teach. The recording devices can be the students’ smartphones – or tablets if they have them. Whichever you choose, the new digital media affords great flexibility in the classroom compared with old-fashioned film production where everyone has a particular role to play and the equipment is either difficult or completely impossible to obtain. Most smartphones are equipped with both camera and microphone nowadays.

Although production exercises should be short, all production requires good organization. Good organization is achieved by working with three basic phases (planning, practice/filming and editing) during the small film exercises. The teacher can choose whether the students should work through all or just a few of the exercises.



1. Planning

  • As a whole group: review the small production exercises
  • Distribute responsibilities in smaller groups (max. 3 people):
  • Who will be the actor(s), cameraman/camerawoman and editor?
  • Create a small storyboard for your production (max. 25 second film per exercise)


2. Exercises / filming

  • ’Power’: Angle the camera to create a power-relation to a person or an object: For example, you can try frog perspective, normal perspective and bird perspective.
  • ’Emotion / fear’: Edit the image so one can sense a person’s emotion, fear for instance: Possible use of ultra-close-ups, in order to highlight facial expressions, hands or some-thing other.
  • ’Dialogue’: Film a scene with dialogue. Consider angles and editing according to the dialogue.
  • ’Isolation’: Film a scene with the theme ”isolation”. Consider which means are required in order to create a feeling of isolation: location, camera angles, and editing.


3. Editing

  • Consider if you want to edit your small productions, for example in connection with the dialogue exercise. Both fast and slow editing speed can have an impact on the viewer.
  • Feel free to use background music that supports the mood you wish to convey.
  • Use sound and sound effects to create thrills for example. If you use effects from something other than the editing program remember it must be free (see ‘Checklist for production’)
  • Experiment with light and dark in an editing program – to create a spooky sensation.

This downloadable pdf covers everything in this step, as well as advice on Technology and Apps, rights free sound, and a checklist of other factors to think about.


Choose one of the exercise topics from phase two above - either ‘Power’, ‘Emotion/ fear’, or ‘Isolation’. Make either a short (less than 20 second) single shot representation of the theme, or take a photograph. Post it on the Padlet below - but don’t label it with the theme. Let other people see if they can guess it!