How do I effectively tell a story through film?

Why Take This Course?


In Fillmmaking, students not only learn the art behind filmmaking, but also the art of filmmaking.

We all love movies! Movies help us experience something meaningful, funny, profound or painful. In this Filmmaking Fine Arts course, we figure out how movies cause us to experience something.

This course is driven by a narrative short film, 3–5 minutes long, that you will complete by the end of the semester. To prepare for that project, you will also create a shorter (60-second) film, write a screenplay, study film history, and watch and discuss many classic films. We also learn about storytelling, cinematographic elements, video editing, special effects, and film promotion.Then, at the end of it all, your films will be shown to the student body in the annual Williamsburg Academy Film Festival.

The skills you acquire from this course can lead you down many paths of awesomeness. Whether you desire to work in the film industry or just want to make funny videos of your cat playing an accordion while walking on a tightrope, this course will give you the basic knowledge to help you reach your goals.

Course Framework

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
How has film impacted society?How do films tell stories? (Pre-production)How can I effectively film my story? (Production)How can editing be used to finalize a film? (Post-production)
Why and how do people make films?What are the different types of films?What is cinematography, and how can it be used to enhance my story?How can good sound editing bring more emotion and clarity to my film?
How is film an art?How are screenplays structured?How do I use problem- solving to film various scenes?How do I make cleanly-edited cuts using a computer program?
Who, in history, has contributed to the art of filmmaking?How are narratives structured?What do I need to do to manage my time and resources properly during filming?What can special effects add to my film?
Where do I look to get ideas for a film?How can a film tell a story without using any dialogue? (Show, don't tell)What can I do to promote my film to the public?
What constitutes a "good" film?What is the significance of a screenplay?
What are the elements of a story?
How do I create relatable characters?

Texts and Materials Students Must Purchase

Jennifer Van SijllCinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know
Christina HamlettScreenwriting for Teens: The 100
Principles of Screenwriting Every
Budding Writer Must Know
Director: Martin ScorseseHugo (2011)—movie
  • Any video camera. Must be able to import footage to computer. It can use SD (or any form of memory) card, Mini DV tape, or internal memory (ie Flip camera). Some cameras can be purchased rather cheaply at any store that sells electronics. Avoid using a device whose design is not primarily for filming/photography (phones, iPods, iPads, etc.) because they do not usually capture quality footage–only use if absolutely necessary. **Note: If you do need to use a smart phone/tablet as your camera, please invest in an inexpensive tripod. Just holding a phone results in shaky, low-quality footage.
  • A computer video-editing program. If you have a Mac, we will be using iMovie (which comes free with all Macs). If you have a PC, we will be using Windows Move Maker, which comes free with PC’s.
  • Celtx. This is a free, pre-production program. We will be using this to write our screenplays. The great thing about this program is that the general formatting is already done for you, and you can easily share your screenplay with others so they can give you suggestions on the spot.
  • Microsoft Office. We will be using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. If you do not have these already, Open Office and Libre Office offer acceptable free alternative software.


  • Recommended Grade: 9th (Freshman), 10th (Sophomore), 11th (Junior), 12th (Senior)
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Versions & Estimated Weekly Hours: 4
  • Format: Live
  • Credits: 0.5
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Friday 9:00 am - 1:00 pm MST
Closed weekends and holidays

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