Summer 2020 - CA 135 D100

Introduction to Cinema (3)

Class Number: 5506

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    Joseph Clark
    Office Hours: Fridays 10am – 11:30am (zoom)



An introductory course designed to facilitate a fundamental understanding of film technique, style and form in order to develop the skills with which to analyze films of all genres. Through lectures and screenings it will provide an overview of the social, aesthetic and technical development of motion pictures, introducing tools for the formal analysis of the elements of cinema: cinematography and lighting, art direction, performance, editing, sound and the screenplay. The formal and historical elements of documentary, avant-garde and dramatic films will be addressed. The course will involve the screening and discussion of several complete feature films and shorts, as well as excerpts from others. Students with credit for FPA 135 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


This class takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of film. Using both historical and contemporary examples we will look critically at the aesthetics of film as well as at the institutions and people who create moving pictures, and the sites of their exhibition and reception. Through lecture materials, readings, and screenings, students will be introduced to the historical context for contemporary film cultures, become familiar with a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to film studies, and learn the language of film structure and analysis.

The class will be divided into three thematic sections: “Aesthetics,” “History,” and “Theory.” In the first section students will learn the tools for the formal analysis of the elements of cinema, including mise en scène, cinematography, and editing. In the second section we will explore the early history of moving pictures, the movie industries that have developed in Hollywood and elsewhere, and the history of film exhibition and reception. In the third part of the course students will be introduced to classical film theory and its critics as well as the insights offered by documentary and experimental film.


Students will

  • understand key vocabulary of film form and technique
  • identify and analyze film form
  • understand and identify different approaches to film studies
  • understand the history of film in a global context
  • identify and apply some key ideas in film theory
  • use visual analysis to understand the relationship between film form, content, history, and theory
  • practice writing clear and persuasive arguments


  • Canvas Discussion Forum Contributions 10%
  • Midterm Exam 20%
  • Shot-by-Shot Analysis Assignment (~750 words) 20%
  • Online Film Reception Assignment (Description 5% & Analysis 20%) 25%
  • Final Exam 25%


Remote Learning Format

The course is divided into topic-based modules on Canvas that correspond to our twice-weekly class times. On Fridays, I will post the modules for the following Tuesday and Thursday. Each module has five main parts.
  1. Lecture material – this will be presented in pages on Canvas and include text, still images, pre-recorded video lectures, and sample clips. Lecture material will be made available weekly (on Fridays) and, once posted, students will be able to access it any time.
  2. Reading – Required reading from the textbook is listed in the syllabus, additional required readings will be posted to Canvas in the appropriate module.
  3. Film Screening – links to the course films will be provided through Canvas in each module.
  4. Discussion Forum – You will receive a viewing prompt for each film screening asking you to look for specific details or consider various aspects of the films or lecture. You will be assigned to a discussion section moderated by one of the TAs. Respond to the prompt and comments from your colleagues, and ask any questions about the films or lecture material here. Discussion forums will be open on Fridays and remain open until the Zoom Q&A is held for that module. Your discussion contributions will be graded complete/incomplete and you can skip 2 discussions without penalty (no need to contact your TA).
  5. Zoom Q&A – At 5:30pm PST on Tuesdays and Thursdays I will host a Q&A session on Zoom devoted to the lecture and film for that module (link posted to Canvas). In these sessions I will answer questions and address comments made in the discussion forum for the film and lecture material. Students can also ask and answer questions in the Zoom chat or via video. These sessions are a chance to think more deeply about the films in relation to the lecture content and readings. Zoom video will not be recorded for privacy reasons, but the chat log will be available on Canvas. Participation in Zoom Q&A sessions will not be graded. If you need to miss a Zoom Q&A for any reason, you do not need to contact me or the TAs.


Detailed prompts for both of the major assignments will be posted to Canvas. All assignments should be submitted on the day they are due. Extensions will be granted only in advance and under exceptional circumstances. Late assignments will be graded down each day (i.e. B+ becomes a B, etc). Students must complete all exams and assignments in order to pass the course.


All coursework will be delivered via Canvas, including video lectures, films, discussions, and additional required and recommended readings. You can also find copies of the syllabus, assignments and additional materials. We will also use Canvas for submitting class assignments and administering exams. You access Canvas using your SFU computing account – please make sure you can access the course material.




Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White, The Film Experience: An Introduction, 5th Edition, (Boston: Bedford/St Martins, 2018)*

Available in print or as an e-book here:

* you can use the 3rd or 4th editions – chapter titles are mostly the same but numbering is different
** additional required readings on Canvas

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.