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MediaLit Moments

Short Cuts, or How to Understand a Movie Trailer

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Movie trailers are art forms of their own—and yet it’s so easy to watch them flash by without fully understanding their rhythm and structure, or the media tools used to sell the movie before its theatrical release.

Have students identify the elements of a theatrical trailer

AHA!:  Movie trailers aren’t just slapped together.  They’re totally planned out!

Grade Level: 6-9

Key Question #2:  What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Core Concept #2:  Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules

Materials:  High speed internet access, LCD projector, screen

Activity: Play a trailer for your students, and ask them if they can identify what’s attracting them to it.  For lack of better material, you might try this series of trailers profiled in an article in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/02/19/movies/awardsseason/oscar-trailers.html?_r=1&

Here are some elements of trailers for students to consider, with credit to Stephen Garrett in Film Maker Magazine online, January 13th, 2012. Film trailers generally take their cuts from beginning to middle and end of the film.  And they tend to function as small stories in three acts:  introduction to characters and environment, obstacles and complications, and intensification of conflict.  If they don’t tell those three-act stories, the editors may be more interested in establishing a tone or mood to match that of the film.

Sometimes the filmic elements themselves take center stage.  Does the trailer rely most heavily on dialogue?  Do they dwell on the lush cinematography or set design?  What do the music cues tell you about the film?  Does the trailer focus on actors’ performances?  Or is it the genre that determines most of the creative choices of the editors? A trailer for a Harry Potter film will be much different from a trailer for an offbeat comedy about two characters on a road trip.

Once your students have had a chance to tease apart the elements of the trailer, ask them to rate it.  Did it grab your attention and entice you to see the movie, or did it seem like a hodgepodge of outtakes that were less than exciting?

Extension:  For a subsequent class, ask students to think of movie trailers they thought weren’t all that great.  What do they think the editors should have done instead?


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 July 2016 08:30 )
 

Story Selling on Kickstarter

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Starting a Kickstarter page may be the contemporary equivalent to buying a lottery ticket. Both  hinge on dreams of making money quickly, and by chance.  But, as Jason Best, Principal of Crowdfund Capital Advisors in San Francisco points out: “Crowdfunding is not an easy way to raise money.  It’s a new way to do a difficult thing, which is raising money for a business.  It enables you to more efficiently raise the money and shorten the time it takes to do so.  But it takes a lot planning, a lot of preparation, and careful execution of your plan” (Assenova et al., “The Present and Future of Crowdfunding,” p. 125).

In this MediaLit Moment, your high school students will have the chance to imagine themselves in the position of the entrepreneur who wishes to raise funds on a crowdfunding platform, and learn the basics of creating a project page that’s likely to drive traffic to the site.

Ask students to evaluate the effectiveness of a sampling of Kickstarter project pages

Grade Level:  9-12

Key Question #5 for Producers: Have I communicated my purpose effectively?

Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Key Question #3 for Producers: Is my message engaging and compelling for my target audience?

Core Concept #3: Different people experience the same message differently.

Key Question #4 for Producers: Have I clearly and consistently framed values, lifestyles and points of view in my content?

Core Concept #4: Media have embedded values and points of view.

Materials: Computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen.

Activity: This MediaLit Moment activity requires a little teacher preparation.  Visit the Kickstarter home page, then look for the FAQ page, which will provide directions for establishing a Kickstarter account.  There’s no need to worry about starting a project.  Creating a minimal profile page is enough to establish your Kickstarter account.  Next, search the site for the Kickstarter Creator Handbook.  Read the section titled “Telling Your Story.”  This focuses largely on putting together the project video.  Next, spend a little time browsing successful and unsuccessful projects.  Each time you open the Kickstarter main page, you’ll see showcases of successful projects, or projects in progress that are doing well.  A site search for “unsuccessful projects” or “unfunded projects” should yield several failed campaigns.

For the activity itself, browse a few successful and unsuccessful project pages with your students, and ask relevant questions.  Project videos are the first priority.  These are essentially three minute elevator speeches which answer those Key Questions for Producers:  Is it engaging and compelling?  What is the project creator hoping to accomplish, why is it important, and what are the benefits for prospective funders?  And, what’s inspiring the project creator to take the risk of creating the campaign?  Ask students to evaluate the pages they’ve visited.  If you have any time to spare, you might also want to take a look at the different features of the project page.  How many backers are there for the campaign?  Has the project creator been a backer for other campaigns on Kickstarter?  Have backers posted any comments?  Has the project creator posted any updates? Generally, the more active the site, the more successful the project is likely to be.     

 

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com.

 

Purrfect Delivery

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In this MediaLit Moment, students are entertained by a recent anti-smoking PSA that has received more than three million views on YouTube.  Use the clip for a mini-deep deconstruction exercise where students watch, listen, and evaluate the techniques used to create the message.

Ask students why this particular clip went viral

AHA! This message made me laugh so I’m sharing it will all of my friends

Grade Level: 6-9

Key Question #2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Core Concept #2: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power (in this case, power of persuasion).

Materials: Computer with internet access and projector. Here is the link to the PSA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLtschJxRy8  

Activity: Show the video three times without giving any explanation to students except to watch and listen without commenting. Play the video on a big screen for the class.  Then play it again without the sound – just video.  The third time, play the sound only – no video. Ask students to comment on the creative techniques used to make this film.  Would the clip have been as effective without all of the elements coming together?Was the message clear? Were students persuaded not to smoke? What was the most compelling part of the message? Cats, music, text…Would it have been better to use humans? Was YouTube the right platform for releasing this video? Why or why not?
 

 

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com.


In this MediaLit Moment, students
are entertained by a recent anti
-
smokin
g PSA that
has
received more
than
three
million views on YouT
ube.
Use the clip
for a
mini
-
deep deconstruction
exercise
where
students watch, listen, and evaluate the techniques used to create the message.
Ask students
why
this
particular clip
went viral
AHA!
This
message made me laugh so I’m sharing it will all of my friends
Grade Level:
6
-
9
Key Question #2:
What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Core Concept #2:
Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its ow
n rules
.
Key Question #
5
:
Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept #
5
:
Most media messages are
organized
to gain profit and/or power (
in this case,
power
of persuasion).
Materials:
Computer with internet access and projector
.
Here is the
link
to the PSA
:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLtschJxRy8
Activity:
Show
the video three times without giving any explanation
to students
except to watch and
listen without commenting
. Play the v
ideo
on a big screen
for the class. Then play it again without the
sound
just video
. The third time
,
play the sound only
no video. Ask students to comment on the
creative techniques used to make
this film
. Would
the
clip
have
been as effective
withou
t all of the
elements coming together?
Was the message clear?
Were students persuaded not to smoke?
What
was the most
compelling
part of the message?
Cats, music, text...Would it have been better to use
humans?
Was YouTube the right
platform
for releasing t
his video? Why or why not?
The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s
MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, ©2002
-
2016, Center f
or Media Literacy,
Last Updated ( Monday, 09 May 2016 09:52 )
 

The Art and Craft of Magazine Covers

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In this MediaLit Moment, students are encouraged to deconstruct a magazine cover from this season’s presidential campaign. By looking closely at the design and purpose of a message, students discover that most media messages are constructed by professionals who are eager to sell a product or idea. Our thanks to Frank Baker for providing the images for this activity.

Ask students about the creative decisions made when designing political magazine covers

AHA! These covers were designed with a message in mind.

Grade Level: 6-9

Key Question #2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Core Concept #2:
Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept #5:
Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Materials: Computer with internet access and projector. Find the magazine covers by using this link: http://www.frankwbaker.com/mlc/2016-presidential-candidates-magazine-covers/

Activity: Put the covers up on the screen for all to see. Remind students that each cover started out blank–an editorial team working with a graphic designer collaborated to decide what goes on the cover. Have them take a moment to look at headlines, fonts, colors, photography, lighting, etc. Ask students which creative techniques attracted their attention? What did they see first when looking at the covers? Why were these particular photos, illustrations, fonts, headlines chosen?  To sell? To entertain? To make a call to action? To encourage – or discourage -- a vote?

Extended Activity: As a class, agree on a topic and have students create their own magazine covers with image and headline.


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com.

Last Updated ( Friday, 08 April 2016 10:14 )
 

He Named Me Malala

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“He Named Me Malala” is a 2015 documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim; the story explores the life of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for championing girls’ education in Pakistan, and who subsequently became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

This videoclip from the documentary is the opening of the film, and it features an animated version of the story of the Afghani folk heroine Malalai of Maiwand, for whom Malala Yousafzai’s father named her. This animated opening provides a frame for the remainder of the documentary, which contains subsequent animated sections as well as interviews and recordings representing Yousafzai’s life.

Ask students why this animated story is chosen for the opening of a documentary film.

AHA! Malala Yousafzai’s name provides inspiration for her life and for the telling of her story.

Grade Level: 6-12

Key Question #2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Core Concept #2: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Key Question #4: What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in – or omitted from – this message?
Core Concept #4:
Media have embedded values, lifestyles and points of view.

Materials: Screen, LCD projector, computer with high-speed Internet connection.

Activity: Use the videoclip* (2:15 minutes long) found at http://ow.ly/Z0nWM.

Before identifying the film that the videoclip is taken from, ask the students if the animated clip caught their attention. What did they like or dislike about the creative techniques used to tell the story? If time permits, show the clip again. Then have the students list out the values, lifestyles and points of view they identify in the clip.  Be sure to have students address omissions, such as other points of view.  Students may want to explore historical information about the opponents and the context surrounding the battle depicted, or typical customs regarding women at the time.

After analyzing and discussing the videoclip, provide students with the name of the documentary and ask students what their expectations may be of Malala Yousafzai, the contemporary girl whom the documentary features.  What kind of girl might they expect to meet or see?

Extended Activities: A complete teaching guide, “He Named Me Malala,” is available free from Journeys in Film, http://journeysinfilm.org/films/he-named-me-malala/. Once students have had an opportunity to explore the framing of Malala’s story from the standpoint of the opening animation using a media literacy approach, it is illuminating to contrast and compare Malala Yousafzai’s own story with that of the ancient heroine. 

Additionally, the book authored by Yousafzai, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” provides another media venue to explore Yousafzai’s story, allowing for a comparison between various approaches possible through different mediums.

* The videoclip is excerpted from the 2015 film “He Named Me Malala.” CML thanks Fox Searchlight Pictures for permission to use this clip for educational purposes.


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 March 2016 14:42 )
 
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