Prof: Paul Watkins
Location: Nanaimo (200.203)
Class Hours:  Thursday 6 pm –  9:30 pm
Office Hours: Thursdays 2-3 pm
Phone: Ext. 2118
Office: 345. 204

“I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians.”
–Francis Ford Coppola

FILM 101 introduces the study of film as an art form and a medium of cultural communication. Film is a language of ideas and it is images and ideas that excite us when we watch a film in the dark. Students will gain a basic understanding of the technical aspects of film, including cinematography, editing, acting, mise-en-scène, and sound. We will also discuss the cultural impact and politics of film. The course will draw material and concepts from Richard Barsam and Dave Monahan’s Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film and lectures will include academic context for the various films we will watch from Citizen Kane (1941) to Black Panther (2018). While the focus is largely on newer American cinema, important films from around the world—including a section on Indigenous filmmaking in Canada—will inform our discussions.

Trigger Warning: Some of the content and discussion in this course will necessarily engage with filmic representations of violence and other mature themes.

Note: Given the need to screen films in their entirety, many of our classes will go until 9:30 pm to leave enough time for discussion.

Required Text:

  • Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film by Richard Barsam and Dave Monahan

Optional Text:

  • Writing About Movies by Karen Gocsik, Richard Barsam, and Dave Monahan

Free Introductory Film Texts:


  • VIU Learn: Film Reflections x  2 (500 words each) 30%
  • Quiz 10%
  • Essay Outline with Annotated Bibliography and Workshop 10%
  • Research Essay (1500-1800 words) 25%
  • Final Exam 25%

See the paper copy of the syllabus for detailed breakdowns of assignments. 

Please note that this schedule is subject to change as the term progresses.

Introduction to the Course
Selected clips: Carl Theodor Dreyer, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928); Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker (1962); Darren Aronofsky, Requiem for a Dream (2001); Joel and Ethan Cohen, No Country for Old Men (2007); Stephen Spielberg, Jaws (1975) and Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Screening 1: Chris Marker, La Jetée (1962 | 28 min)
Screening 2: Jennifer Kent, Monster  (2005 | 10 min)

Reading: “Chapter 1: “Looking at Movies”
Clips: David Lynch, Blue Velvet (1986); Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2012)
Screening: Jason Reitman, Juno (2007 | 96 min)
Discussion of Reflection Papers

9.16: Last day to add or drop without financial penalty

Reading: “Chapter 2: Principles of Film Form”
Selected clips: Georges Méliès, A Trip to the Moon (1902); Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush (1925); Yasujirō Ozu, Tokyo Story (1953); Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Screening: Wes Anderson,The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014 | 100 min)
[Reflection option on Juno due]

Reading: “Chapter 3: Types of Movies”
Selected clips: Robert J. Flaherty, Nanook of the North (1922); Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (1972); Dario Argento, Suspiria (1977); Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, The Lego Movie (2014)
Screening: Ana Lily Amirpour, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014 | 101 min)

See Abdi and Calafell, “Queer utopias and a (Feminist) Iranian vampire” (VIU Learn)[Reflection option on Grand Budapest due]

Quiz (Chapters 1—4) [6:00-6:15]
Reading: “Chapter 4: Elements of Narrative”
Clip: David Lynch, Mulholland Drive (2001)
Screening: Christopher Nolan, Memento (2000 | 113 min)
[Reflection option on A Girl Walks Home due]


Reading: “Chapter 5: Mise-en-Scéne
Selected clips: Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954); David Lynch, Twin Peaks (1990); Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Tutorial Video: The Lumière Brothers, “Actualities”
Screening: Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (2018 | 134 min)
Discussion: How to write a thesis
[Reflection option on Memento due]


Reading: “Chapter 6: Cinematography” and “One Step Ahead: A Conversation With Barry Jenkins” (VIULearn)
Clips: Richard Brooks, In Cold Blood (1967); Stanley Kubrick, The Shining (1980) [and clips from student film]; Julie Dash, Daughters of the Dust (1991); Wong Kar-Wai, In the Mood for Love (2000); Sean Baker, Tangerine (2015)
Screening: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (2016 | 111 min)
[Reflection option on Black Panther due]

Last day to drop without academic penalty

Reading: “Chapter 7: Acting”
Clips: Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976); Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood (2007)
Screening: Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (2018 | 120 min)
[Reflection option on Moonlight due]

Reading: “Chapter 8: Editing”
Clips: match cut in Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976); Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, City of God (2002); George Miller, MadMax: Fury Road (2015)
Tutorial Video: Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Screening: Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho (1960 | 109 min)
[Reflection on The Favourite due]

Screening: Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing (1989 | 120 min)
Music Video: Public Enemy, Fight the Power (1989)
Special Presentation for the Intercultural Hip Hop Forum
[Meeting in the regular classroom now]
[Final Reflection Option on Psycho due]

No class/ Reading Week

Reading: “Chapter 9: Sound” and “Chapter 10: Film History”
Clips: Alice Guy Blaché, Making an American Citizen (1912); Satyajit Ray, Panther Panchali (1955); Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Screening: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941 | 119 min)

Research Paper Workshop and Annotated Bibliography due (6 pm – 7 pm)
Special Focus: Indigenous Cinema in Canada
Screening (part one): Zacharias Kunuk, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001 | 172 min)

Screening (part two): Zacharias Kunuk, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001 | 172 min)
Final Paper Due
Exam Preparation (Chapters 1-10 with essay)

  • Clip, Reel Injun with Ariel Smith, Melanie Hadley, and Cowboy Smithx | AABIZIINGWASHI


FINAL EXAM: Thursday, Dec 12th at 6pm in 200.203