Film Critics 2019 Schedule

Jan 29 – Topics: Introductions, course outline, expectations, semester project overview. Questions for consideration: How do we view films? What is the purpose of film? What films do you prefer and why? How do you decide which films to see? Creating your film journal blog (using Assignment due Feb. 2 by 11:59 pm: Create a film review blog with a general introduction of yourself and an essay (350-600 words) on “What Film Means to Me.” Post the link on BlackBoard. website will serve as your interactive textbook where our class will immerse in online engagement, interactions & readings.


Feb. 2 (11:59 PM)– Response Assignments due (including): Create and finalize your first blog entries (and/or response posts): General introduction and  “What Film Means to Me” essay.


Feb. 4Topics for dialogue: Chapter 1- What is baggage? What is “story” and why does it matter? Character, inciting incident and ambition. Character vs. Characterization? The Film Evaluation Outline: The Basics. Writing a story synopsis (short and sweet) for film reviews.

Feb. 8(11:59 pm) – “Film Story” online response assignment due + response to filmmaker interviews.

Feb. 10 (11:59 pm) – Film Blog Journal Entry Due: “Baggage.”film-studies-banner


Feb.11 – Propose Semester Project film you would like to explore this semester. Select from the American Film Institute’s (AFI) 100 Greatest Films of All Time list (10th Anniversary Edition) or the American Society of Cinematographers 100 Milestone Films.

Feb. 11 –  Topics for dialogue: Chapter 1- Character conflict, crisis, and resolution. Story arc and character arc… what is the difference? What is a hero (exploring the hero’s journey)? Film genres according to Blake Snyder. The Freytag Formula, Writing reviews –what are the general essentials I need to know? How deep should I get?  Universal life lessons. Engage in online filmmaker interviews: Emma Thompson, Aaron Sorkin, Beeban Kidron, Kelly Fremon Craig (Edge of Seventeen & Bumblebee) & Ami Brown (Spec screenwriter). Blog Journal Assignment: Interview someone over 50-years old and write a 500-700 word report/story capturing his/her movie history, (sample questions to be provided) and post the final draft to your blog and post link in Bb.

Feb. 15(11:59 pm) – Online response assignment due + response to filmmaker interviews.


Feb. 17(11:59 pm)Blog Journal Assignment – Film history interview with someone 50-years or older. Post the final draft to your blog and post link in Bb.


Feb. 18(11:59 pm)Semester Project Notes: Finalize Semester Project Film from the AFI list, and begin background research on the film and the filmmakers.

Feb. 18Topics for dialogue: Chapter 2- Understanding film 101 (lights, camera, action) & the filmmaking process (from Development to Marketing/Distribution). Film history overview. Film theories to consider. Writing my first review (with limitations). Interview with long-time film critic of the Charlotte Observer Lawrence Toppman.

Feb. 22(11:59 pm)Response post due – Listen to Lawrence Toppman interview, explore readings & topics for this chapter, and respond to writing prompt.

Feb. 24 (11:59 pm) – Film Evaluation Assignment duePost the final draft to your blog and post link in Bb. Film list and rubric to be provided.

Feb. 25 – Semester Project Notes: Identify 4 – 6 (four-six) strong research sources for your semester project film (print, online articles, audio, and video sources are acceptable). Do not use Wikipedia. You may use IMBD as a general background source, but you should still add 4-6 more sources. If you need guidance, ask me well before this date. The Rose Library has a variety of research options available.o-ROGER-EBERT-KINDNESS-CARTOON-facebook


Feb. 25Topics for dialogue: Chapter 3- The importance of cinematography, lighting and color theory. What is Drama? Exploring biopics, reality-based films, film adaptations, franchise films, remakes and films based on a true story. See list of best 100 films (American Society of Cinematography).  Online interviews with cinematographers  Tom Sigel (Bohemian Rhapsody, X-Men) & Seamus McGarvey (Bad Times at the El Royale, The Avengers).

March 1(11:59 pm)Response Post Due (TBD).

March 3(11:59 pm)Blog Journal Assignment Due – Using character/hero exploration and posted guidelines (to be provided), dissect a story song. This provides applied understanding for “adapting story” (list of potential options available upon request).

March 4Topics for dialogue: Chapter 4-  Sound and music – what the mind hears. The musical.  Interviews will showcase feature film composers (Justin Hurwitz, Mark Isham, Junkie XL, John Ottman, Mark McKenzie, Steven Price, Ryan Amon, Marco Beltrami), and blind film critic Jay Forry. **Extra credit: Review the documentary “Score: A Musical Documentary” (director Matt Schrader).sunday-slapstick-1418391879


March 7Semester Project Notes: You should have viewed your semester project film by this date and started making detailed research and critique notes.

March 8(11:59 pm)Response Post Due – After engaging in this chapter, listen to a select interview with a feature film composer and blind film critic Jay Forry and respond to online writing prompt. Featured composers include (John Ottman, Justin Hurwitz, Marco Beltrami, Steven Price).

March 11 – (11:59 pm)  – Film Evaluation Assignment due – Evaluate a film with specific focus on visuals (cinematography) & sound (music, sound design). Film list and rubric to be provided.


March 11Topics for dialogue: Chapter 5 –  Acting –why does it matter? Finding the right title for your review. Featured interviews with actors (Michael Caine, Michael Kelley, Yvonne Srahavski, Britt Robertson, Daniel Day Lewis, Denzel Washington, Mahersha Ali). Production design: the basics.


March 15(11:59 pm)  – Response Post Due (TBD)  – Acting and response to interviews.

March 18 – (11:59 pm)  – Blog Journal Assignment Due – Three options including …Writing prompt: “The best acting talent I’ve ever seen on film.” Using your understanding of the lesson on acting, offer a “best acting talent” post on your journal with defense (and examples) of “why”. You must support your reasons critically (or with research). All details for options are available here.

March 18Research, writing and additional support assignment for semester projects and critical writing. You will have an assignment that should be focused on all week in regards to critical analysis and academic research (through peer reviewed journals and dedicated research on your film and the filmmakers involved)>


March 22(11:59 pm)  – Response Post Due

March 23Semester Project Notes – By this point you should be ½ way complete with your semester project including: general film evaluation, character/narrative dissection, fine tuning universal theme(s) understanding and incorporation of research notes into paper. *Note: You may submit your draft to me for feedback at this point.  

March 25  – (11:59 pm)  – Research support writing assignment due.


March 25Topics for dialogue: Chapter 6 –  The comedy. Importance of editing: the basics. Online interviews with comic talents and/or editors (including Wyatt Smith or Mary Poppins Returns, Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean). Writing reviews for print, online, radio & television/videoTone, voice, structure and other pieces of the puzzle.

March 29(11:59 pm)  – Response Post Due (TBD) – Comedy, editing & review techniques writing prompt.

April 1 (11:59 pm)Blog Journal Assignment Due– Writing prompt: “The best comic film talent I’ve ever seen on film.” Using your understanding of the lesson on comedy, offer a “best comic talent” post on your journal with defense (and examples) of “why”. You must support your reasons critically (or with research), or additional options.


April 1Topics for dialogue: Chapter 7 – Special effects, disaster, fantasy, comic book & science fiction films. The ‘Event’ film. What is a blockbuster? The Epic Film. Interview with film special effects supervisor Matt Johnson (World War Z, The Avengers, V for Vendetta), Trey Brown (WETA Studios Special FX artist), and Rosa Salazar (Alita).


April 5(11:59 pm)  – Response Post Due  – Writing prompts will focus on indies, film fests, and the international film market.

April 7(11:59 pm)Blog Journal Assignment Due (TBD)

April 7 – Semester Project Notes – By this point you should be ¾ complete with your semester project including: film evaluation, character/narrative dissection, universal theme(s) understanding and incorporation of research notes into paper. *Note: You may submit your draft to me for feedback at this point.  


April 8Topics for dialogue: Chapter 8-Advanced reviewing concepts, grading your films with report card or star ratings.Indie films, film fests & the importance of the international box office.  Earl Owensby focus. Online Guest Speaker interview with Film Critic Matt Brunson (formerly of) Creative Loafing (Charlotte, NC) and the Savannah News (Ga.) Online Guest Speaker–Filmmaker Mageina Tovah.

April 11 (11:59 pm)  – Response Post Due (TBD)

April 12 –(11:59 pm)  –  Film Evaluation Assignment due  – Evaluate an independent film (list and rubric to be provided).


April 16 – 22  – Spring Break (finalize semester project)

April 23Topics for dialogue: Chapter 9- Horror, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery.  Getting started with a film-reviewing career, freelancing and starting your own website, Youtube channels, podcasts, etc. What not to do when reviewing films & using your blog for opportunities. Interview with film critic Douglas Davidson ( and NC Film Critics Association) & featured horror/mystery/ suspense filmmaker.

April 26(11:59 pm)  –  Response Post Due (TBD)

April 28 April 29 – (11:59 pm)  – Semester Project Due (no late work accepted) – (follow posted guidelines)

April 29Topics for dialogue: Chapter 10- Family films,  Animation,  Children’s films, YA films, and coming of age films. Why critics’ groups matter. The Ten-minute review. The art of Production Design and interview with Oscar-nominee Fiona Crombie. Interview with film critic Sean O’Connell (Cinemablend, Rotten Tomatoes).


May 3(11:59 pm)  – Response Post Due – address writing prompt in regards to interviews, and topics listed for April 29.

May 5(11:59 pm) –  Blog Journal Assignment Due (TBD)

May 6Topics for dialogue: Chapter 11- Getting access to screenings and interview junkets. Reviewing post-theatrical releases (DVDs/Blu-Rays). The Western film genre. Interview with film director S. Craig Zahler. Political-based and the espionage film. Action/adventure films. Writing reviews for the short-attention-span audience. Long-form limited TV series, the Netflix influence, the Portable screen generation and the impact on film.  Interview with Adam Long (Focus Newspaper & Movie Geeks United).

May 9  – (11:59 pm) –  Final Response Post Due (TBD)

May 10(11:59 pm) –  Final Blog Journal Assignment Due (TBD)


**Schedule and assignments subject to change






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