Introduction to Film Schooled with Heath Beck

Welcome to Film Schooled. I’m Heath Beck and I’ll be your guide. Check your schedules and make sure you’re in the right place. Everyone settled? Excellent. Again, welcome. Through the course of this “class” I’ll be breaking down the ins and outs of this little thing we like to call cinema. Consider this the first day of class. No heavy discussion, lecture, or clips, just the lowdown on the objective of this column, its structure, and a rough outline of future content.


My goal in Film Schooled is to examine the many facets of the motion picture medium in an informative but hopefully entertaining way. I’ll touch on everything from the mechanical process of filmmaking and cinematic history to methods for interpreting film and basic film theories. Ideally, a reader with no film knowledge can pick up a thing or three from Film Schooled with which to amaze friends and potential dates.


Don’t let the word “schooled” scare you. There are no tests, quizzes, or homework. Okay, that homework thing was kind of a lie but it’s not exactly required. Well, that’s not totally true either. Let me explain. You can read all day about the different elements that make…I don’t know…a movie like Chinatown so great, but if you don’t see it then you can’t fully understand or appreciate it. So, in lieu of homework assignments (e.g. read chapters 3-5 in Giannetti’s Understanding Movies or write a 10 page essay on Persona), I’ll include a list of films that illustrate the topics covered in that particular article. This is all part of your overall film literacy, but that’s a subject for another day. I’ll also include books of interest where appropriate.


So, what are we going to cover? Just about everything. First, I’ll discuss the physical processes of film and include some basic terms that will be used throughout Film Schooled. Then it’s on to some early cinema history (and I do mean pre-sound and pre-color; but there are exceptions). I’ll proceed on a rough chronological trajectory through cinema history, stopping off to explore this tangent and that related topic.


In closing, I hope that in the coming entries I can pass along some of my passion for film. Along with that passion, I also hope you’ll benefit from my moments of snobbery and gain the confidence to turn your nose up at some of dreck that passes itself off as film. Because remember, just because it was number one at the box office opening weekend or the most hip of your friends like it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good movie. And since I don’t pretend to know everything about film (yet), feel free to throw questions, comments, and concerns my way.


Class dismissed.

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