When you are in a film class, you will often have to write film reports. Students sometimes confuse the concept of a film report with a film review, but they aren't the same. In a film review, students will assess the overall quality of the film they are watching, determining whether or not it's a piece of art they would want to recommend to others. They may follow certain criteria to establish their review. A film report, on the other hand, requires the critic -- or the student -- to thoroughly evaluate a film, looking at everything from personal reactions to techniques used to make it. A film report will certainly take more time to write than a film review, but if you follow some basic steps, you'll have a great piece written in no time!
The first thing you need to do before writing a film report is to take notes on what film it is you're watching. Pay attention to themes, things that stand out -- such as certain characters -- colors or music. Take note of things you admire, things that you wish were done differently and emotions you felt. Observe different techniques used and plan to research them more in-depth if necessary. It may also be a good idea to pause at certain points, rewind back to a specific scene or start the whole movie over again in order to take some solid notes on what you're seeing.
Go over your notes and try to see how those things are connected. For example, if you happened to note that you were quite interested in the character of Michael Corleone in "The Godfather," you would try to think about the clothes he wears, how he speaks and the way others speak to him.
After making some notes on a character, try to understand the context of that character. In "The Godfather," Corleone had just returned from being a war hero in World War II. Ask yourself: What was going on in America at that time? What does his character represent compared to the other men in the film? What is the time period from beginning to end? What are some symbolic scenes or images in the film?
Develop your thesis statement. A thesis statement for your film report is essentially a one sentence evaluation that can be threaded through the whole piece. Your purpose should be strong enough that readers will agree with your evaluation of the film. It will look something like this: "In Coppola's film 'The Godfather,' the character of Michael Corleone represents the dashed hopes of America."
Back up your thesis statement using three or four reasons to support your arguments. In the example from "The Godfather," you might state: "The journey of Michael's character from hero full of hope to cold-blooded murderer and businessman could be seen as an allegory of America's journey as a country." You might then compare some historical facts to incidents in the film.
Circle back to your thesis statement for your closing. Show how the film fits society and makes us understand ourselves better.
Watch the film at least once, preferably two or three times.
If you get stuck, think of a film report as you would a book report. Think of film as a type of text, since many themes of literature apply to film.
- Watch the film at least once, preferably two or three times.
- If you get stuck, think of a film report as you would a book report. Think of film as a type of text, since many themes of literature apply to film.
Veronica Scott is currently a graduate student at Ohio University, studying film. She holds a BS in Film Studies with a minor in Creative Writing and Art History from the University of Idaho. She has been published in the film magazine Cineaste as well as the McNair Journal.