Creating a Common Language: SCMMA and Story Arc

Media Literacy: Why We Watch Media Examples
When making a film, it is useful to view media examples and break down the elements of filmmaking so we can analyze what story is being told, who the audience is, what messages and ideas are being conveyed (directly or indirectly) and how the film is stylistically presented. This type of critical lens, often referred to as media literacy ,  serves many purposes. We will be watching and analyzing media examples with the intent of creating a common film language and breaking down the various ways form and content shape the film. You are encouraged to stay attuned to what kind of film expression you are drawn to…this is useful information for when you are creating your own film. It is also crucial to understand how films reinforce particular messages, themes and ideas so you can learn how to effectively express your intent, and just as importantly, steer away from ideas or messages you don’t agree with.

Creating a Common Language: Using SCMAA and the Story Arc
When we watch media example and when we make our own films, we will SCMAA and the story arc to guide us. SCMAA is an acronym that stands for:

What is the Story
What is the Conflict/Driving Force
What is the Message/Idea/Theme
Who is the Audience
What are the Aesthetic choices made by the filmmaker?

*SCMAA- is  pronounced Schema, isn’t that clever????

For each film, we will ask the following questions: what is the story, what is the conflict/force, what is the message/theme, who is the audience, what is the aesthetic. We will also pay attention the *gem* moments in the film that make the film memorable (like a specific shot, edit, sound byte, visual or aural stimulation etc). The more you witness and experience *gem* moments in other films, the more attune you will be to create these in your own films.

Use the story arc to make a visual depiction of how the SCMAA evolves and is translated over time in the film. When you combine the story arc with SCMAA, patterns and structural elements become illuminated and where and how the subtleties of tone, theme and ideas are expressed often come to light.

As a filmmaker, hands on practice helps your craft your talent skillfully and with grace. Studying the various methods of film storytelling surfaces what options are available and what kinds of experiments you can explore as you develop and co-create your artistic voice.  It is important to be thoughtful and deliberate when making a film, AND it is important to stay connected to the passion and inspirations that drive your film. It is also useful to be open to the happy accidents that let you understand your film in a new and refreshing way. Making films and being an artist is a dynamic and ever evolving process, just as life is. There is a common saying when making a film:  It is really like making 4 films: the one you brainstorm, the one you shoot, the one you edit and the one you distribute. Ok, one last thing before we go forth onto our movie making journey: have fun, enjoy and take delight in the cinemagical!

Note: This media lesson is ©Kirthi Nath. You are welcome to adopt the curriculum, please leave a comment or email me with comment on how you used the lesson. Thanks.


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