Pre College Academy

Pre-College Online Courses

FILM 101P: The Tools of Cinema:
Film Analysis for Future Filmmakers, Critics and Scholars
Marc Longenecker, Visiting Instructor, Film Studies

Image of Marc Longenecker
Marc Longenecker

At the most basic level, filmmaking is decision-making. The creators of motion pictures must present an onscreen story world by defining specific parameters of the cinematic medium that collectively achieve the desired effect on the viewing audience. Filmmakers deal with a steady stream of choices -- do I film this scene in one shot or many? Should the camera move or not? Close-up or long-shot? Do I even need this moment at all? -- all of which need to be considered in context with choices already made. We as film viewers participate in experiences that have been created for us with deliberate intentions in mind. By focusing on this we can interrogate the decisions that were made, understand the options that were selected among, consider the alternative possibilities that were eliminated or limited, and appreciate the facets that were emphasized in the effort to control our thoughts and feelings.

Here at Wesleyan we treat the acts of making and analyzing movies as compatible reverse processes; each informs the other. We don't look for "interpretations" from other disciplines to be layered over top of the cinematic experience, but we consider the beauty and craft of the creative process itself. This online course aims to lay the foundations for an understanding of cinema that could form the basis of a future course of study or creative enterprise -- or simply help students to appreciate films more. Learning about cinema isn't about pulling aside the curtain and being underwhelmed by "The Wizard" behind it; it's about seeing "The Matrix" while you're in it: learning to appreciate and understand the design of the film medium, and perhaps to one day control it.

This course will run asynchronously from June 30 through August 22. To maintain the small seminar experience, enrollment is limited to a maximum of 20 students. Assignments will include film viewing, written essays, online quizzes, weekly participation, and a final paper.


Marc Longenecker is the Technical and Programming Director for Wesleyan's Center for Film Studies and a Visiting Instructor for the Film Studies Department. He teaches the Department's courses on Frank Capra's Films & Archives, Elia Kazan's Films & Archives, and Television Analysis & Aesthetics. He also advises the student Film Board which programs the ongoing Wesleyan Film Series, and he hosts the Center's summer film series.