There is a reason why I love to teach film to young people that I rarely tell my students about. What I have found is that when students work with movies and learn how to analyze them, their analytical abilities for all texts, including print texts, seem to improve. There is a genuine transfer of skills between film and other texts. Once students can discuss, say, theme, tone, conflict, symbol, and foreshadowing with film, they can readily apply these abilities to short stories, novels, essays, etc. So, in a sense, I trick them into some really good analytical skills by working first with what they enjoy and then transferring those skills to other texts we need them to be able to analyze critically.

But this means that when we teach film we need to do so actively. Just as we do not ask students to read all of The Great Gatsby and expect them to be able to tell us about all the important themes, we cannot simply show a film in its entirety and expect students to discern the film’s messages. We have to prepare our students for the text, we need to stop and discuss the film at various times, and we have to give them the opportunity to have them write and reflect on it afterwards. We need to ask our students, for example, to analyze the films critically by examining the cinematic and theatrical elements that directors use for particular effects.

Kids often complain that after learning to view films critically that have lost their enjoyment of film forever because as they watch movies now, they are always unconsciously analyzing them. I tell them that just as your enjoyment of watching football increases when you understand what 4th down and 20 to go means, so too is it with film. Thinking about, writing about, and discussing films can be just as fun as watching them. When you become aware of all the elements that go into a film, your level of enjoyment only increases. Films matter to us because they have become such a large part of the world around us; it only makes sense to try to understand them as much as possible. The same skills students use to analyze and critique films are transferred to reading fictional literature. 

Evan E Richards Film Index (alphabetical listing of shot compositions from films)

Film Unit ( - doc)

Short Film (security guard & custodian in basketball gym - comedy, no dialogue)