Many modern films open with a scene without dialogue and yet, without being explained who is doing what and why, we understand a lot of what is going on. Having watched many different films we have unconsciously developed an understanding of film language.
A Level film studies is about studying and understanding that process. It works at all levels: in a scene, the director’s choice of lighting and camera angles, for example, determines our perception of characters. In the film as a whole, we make guesses about characters’ motivations and actions based on our knowledge of other films in the same genre. On the level of the film industry as a whole, we have different expectations about a mainstream Hollywood film or an independent British production.
Film studies is a fast-growing subject, both at AS/A Level and in universities. Working on the kind of films they are probably already familiar with, students go beyond passive watching and achieve a deep understanding of the film industry.
The course involves studying six modules over two years: each year you will sit two papers and will be required to have working knowledge of a range of film texts.
Year 1 (No formal external exam)
Hollywood over time comparative study
Contemporary American independent film
European Film British Film (comparative study)
Component 3: NEA Coursework production 30%
Production of a film extract or screenplay with storyboard and analysis
Component 1: written examination, three hours, 35%
Section A: Classical Hollywood & New Hollywood
Section B: Contemporary American film since 2005
Section C: British film since 1995
Component 2: written exam, three hours, 35%
Section A: Global film (two-film study)
Section B: Documentary film
Section C: Film movement – silent film
Section D: Experimental Film.
You will usually attend four hours per week, timetabled throughout the day as well as during twilights. There may also be organised revision classes building in preparation for the examinations. In addition you will study and work on exercises in your own time. It is expected that for every hour of taught lesson, you will have one hour of independent study, plus revision of the course so far. Screenings of key texts will often take place outside of the curriculum and there are opportunities to spread the love of film and develop personal skills though school wide film clubs and organisations of the CHS film conference hosted at the Gulbenkian and open to other schools.
Your teacher will also be your academic adviser who will be available to offer general guidance and advice on your studies. Throughout your study you will have tutorials and mock assessments to assess your understanding on the various exam topics, allowing you to discuss your work and improve your knowledge of these independently.
Coursework a vital element of the course as it assesses practical application of key learning. It is assessed internally and externally moderated.
We would recommend a grade 6 at GCSE in English and a keen interest in the visual media of film, institutions and audience.
Once you have completed this course, there are many opportunities within university. There are many degree level courses that offer film studies, and some will offer this as a combined course with other areas e.g. American studies and English.
As an A level it demonstrates a high level of critical thinking, research and analysis as well as developing your study skills preparing you for studying at university.