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Summer School’s in Session: Welcome to Hulu Summer Film School

July 18th, 2014 by Kelly Lin

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Whether they’re transporting us into a world of fantasy or revealing a deeper truth of our present moment, great films have a way of touching our hearts and changing how we look at the world. Using elements such as sound, cinematography, and lighting, filmmakers are able to tell powerful stories and create moments that are unforgettable. This summer, we’ll be examining these elements of filmmaking through some of the films that employ them best.

Each week we’ll be posting a playlist of films related to a filmmaking technique along with supplemental content designed to give you an in-depth look behind the making of some of your favorite films. So sit back, relax, and explore the wonders of cinema through some of the medium’s most iconic works. Hulu Summer Film School is officially in session.

All great movies start with a great story. This week we’re exploring the building blocks behind what makes a great story through a selection of films which either exemplify the classic Hollywood structure or remix it in an innovative way.

Required Viewing: 

1) Ghostbusters
Screenwriters: Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Rick Moranis

The Three Act Structure- The Repeating Phantasm of Story” by Jonathan Katz (an analysis of the Three-Act Structure in “Ghostbusters”)

2) La Jetée
Screenwriter: Chris Marker

Told entirely through still photographs, this post-apocalyptic short tells the story of a troubled man who travels back to his past to rescue his war-torn present. Director Chris Marker uses the frozen nature of images as a metaphor for the fragmented quality of our memories. Besides putting our Windows Movie Maker slideshows to shame, this film is a master class in using imagery as a tool to convey a powerful message.Key term: allegory 
- Kelly Lin 

3) Robocop
Screenwriters: Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner

Known more for director Paul Verhoeven’s penchant for graphic violence and orchestrated mayhem, it’s the writing duo of Neumeier and Miner that gives “Robocop” its signature wit. At first blush, the film seems like a standard revenge story: a good cop is murdered and gets payback against the criminals and the corporation that destroyed him. But a deeper exploration reveals a subversion of genre storytelling – balancing mordant satire with absurdist (and dark) humor – to create a tone so compelling that by the film’s end the audience is on its feet in applause. The feel-good movie of 1987. Key term: tone        
- Naveen Singh

4) Jules et Jim
Screenwriters: François Truffaut & Jean Gruault 

“Jules et Jim” is François Truffaut’s tragic romance that deconstructs the structure of the classical filmic romance. Traditionally, a Hollywood romance involves dramatic tension between two romantically linked characters. “Jules et Jim” places emphasis on one character in particular (Jules), but the interpersonal tension that plays out is with his friend (Jim) and his lover (Catherine)—it’s a freewheeling romantic triangle. Whereas the classical romance ends in answering whether or not the central couple ends up together, “Jules et Jim’s” modern tact ends more explosively and rebelliously by invoking larger existential questions. Key Term: Deconstruction        
- Christopher Rowe 

5) Hoop Dreams
Screenwriter: Steve James & Frederick Marx

It’s the NBA or bust in this documentary about two high school kids from the Bronx who dream of basketball fame. Through scenes that depict the boys’ struggles in school, the pressure to join gang life, and their problems at home, Lee underlines the many obstacles that stand in the way of their dreams, and in doing so, renders the climactic final game all the more powerful. Key term: conflict
-Kelly Lin 

6) Exit through the Gift Shop
Screenwriter: Banksy

Is it all real or a giant hoax? Elusive street artist Banksy kept everyone guessing with his first film feature about an eccentric French shopkeeper who becomes an overnight art sensation named Mr. Brain Wash. Banksy has claimed that the story is real, yet “Gift Shop” is widely accepted to be a satire used as a device to comment on the current commercialized, inauthentic state of the art world. Whether Mr. Brain Wash is real, fake, or actually Banksy himself, Banksy’s message is quite clear: These days, it’s easy for for anyone to be considered an “artist.” Key term: satire
-Sheila Dichoso 

7) Husbands and Wives
Screenwriter: Woody Allen

The divorce of their close friends forces a couple to question the stability of their own relationship in this romantic drama from Woody Allen. What makes this film and other Woody Allen films so great is his refusal to pin down a clear protagonist or antagonist. Through the extended sequences of dialogue in “Husbands and Wives,” Allen depicts both the couple and their friends as egotistical and bitter, yet also vulnerable and lonely. As a result, his characters become multi-dimensional and ultimately relatable. Key terms: protagonist, antagonist  
- Kelly Lin 

8) Rashomon
Screenwriter: Akira Kurosawa & Shinobu Hashimoto

In Kurosawa’s “Rashomon,” a horrific murder is recounted through multiple witnesses, with each giving a slightly different account of the same crime. Instead of focusing on which witness is telling the truth, it focuses more on how we tend to remember events as we want to remember them rather than how they actually happened. Since its release, “Rashomon” has become a staple of virtually every introductory film studies textbook and its story structure, now known as The Rashomon Effect, has influenced everything from “The X-Files” to “South Park.” Key Term: Rashomon Effect
- Kelly Lin 

Extra Credit: 
“Famous Screenwriters – Not Always an Oxymoron” by Christopher Rowe 
“Links and Additional Resources for the Aspiring Screenwriter” by Kelly Lin

Week 2: Cinematography (July 26)
Week 3: Color Theory and Lighting (August 2)
Week 4: Costumes and Set Design (August 8)
Week 5: Soundtrack, Score, and Sound Design (August 16)
Week 6: Animation (August 23)
Week 7: Post Production & Special FX (August 30)

Visit the Hulu Summer Film School page to watch the films and learn more about this project.

Last comment: Sep 29th 2015 2 Comments
  • Kelly Lin says:

    Thanks for the tip Leighton! We’ll be sure to include some Questia links in the next article.

  • Leighton Cooper says:

    I am a new subscriber to HuluPlus and I think this is great but you should consider suggesting some books that could go along with the discussions. I like Questia.com that have a large library of books coming from Universities in every state and each state has their own history and no one knows anything about this. They also have quite a wide variety of interesting books on Film Sense, Temporal modes in film and things that are hard to talk about. I have subscribed to this library for five years and love it. and it really is affordable for most people. It has pretty close to 83000 Scholarly books and a lot of film and Shakespeare and philosophical and Logic in every category. I subscribe to Safari Books also but that is almost too specialist and borders on being expensive and I struggle to conceptualize writers in Questia who are very good and deep so Safari is I’m not sure? I support it its cheaper than an actual University but I get far more use out of Questia.