Basic Filmmaking: The Silent Film

Carlos Siguion-Reyna

This is a DIRECTING course.  The basics of narrative visual language are studied in class and practiced through five two-minute non-dialogue EXERCISE FILMS that explore the following:

  • Basics of Visual Storytelling (shot, master, classic coverage, point of view, cutaways, character, action/reaction, relationship/interaction, parallel action, location, opportunity for angles, meaningful details, slow disclosure)
  • The Frame/Mise-en-Scene (composition, depth, design, space, blocking, lighting, locations, costume, props, lenses, transitions, continuity, storyboard)
  • Movement (telephoto or wide lens, slow or hectic, background in development, moving camera, moving master, movement of actors in front of camera, movement of and through light, chase, screen direction)
  • Casting/Performance (truthful and present, stylized vs. realistic, relationships, crowd scenes, activity vs. action, close-up)
  • Sound (diegetic, non-diegetic, psychological impact, music, voice-over, narrative fix)

Towards the end of the course, each student will direct his KEYSTONE PROJECT:  a seven-minute silent digital film.  To this end, the student is expected to write a script draft for this film before the first day of class, and is required to submit it on the first day of class.  He may consult the professor regarding continuing development of this script through the first three weeks of the course.  This seven-minute keystone project shall be a narrative film, not an experimental film, not a “mood piece” or a “tone poem”.  The project shall be shot on exterior locations and shall use sound effects but not music.

Viewing of clips by master directors, basic reading, and classroom discussions will provide a framework for the heart of the course, which is film production.

The purpose of the course is to challenge the student to find his/her own cinematic voice within the basic, commonly understood language of narrative film.  The approach is similar to that of a Fine Arts laboratory.  While we aim for a basic mastery of the classic conventions and tools of the film director, we also expect that students explore, with genuine artistic seriousness, the personal and formal variations that lead to discovery of one's own style.

Students will take the initiative to embrace and work with the various (and collaborative) resources that are available to the filmmaker: sound and image, motion, light, character, story—these are not the end, but the tools that the serious filmmaker masters in order to make his work live.

Brief Description

  1. Professor:  Carlos Siguion-Reyna
  2. Format:  lectures, shoots of at least five short film exercises (2 minutes each), screenings of existing film clips and student film exercise shoots above; capstone project: each student shoots short film script (7-12 minutes)
  3. No. of Students:  15 students maximum
  4. Class Schedule:  24 May – 2 July 2016 (TTHS), 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  5. Requirements:  Graduate Level
  • Production equipment for shoots (at least five basic equipment packages: camera, lights, sound kit, etc.);
  • Students must know an editing software or get editors who know the software;
  • Every student must come in with an existing short script that will be shot by student crews;
  • Student crews to be composed from within class or from recruitment from other students outside class;
  • The crews should have shooting experience;
  • Students may use professional crews but will shoulder the expenses for their work. 

CinemalayaCultural Center of the PhilippinesEcolink Inverstments, Inc.FDCP