How it works

Blow a quiz? Want to beef up your quiz average? Once each month, you can by watching a film and writing a short essay or by memorizing a poem. See details below.

An extra-credit essay or poem adds a 100-point quiz to your grades.

For films

See any of the movies pictured below (film technique videos don't count) and compose a short essay, not a plot summary but an essay of about 300-500 words on a theme, a character, an aspect of movie making, such as camera movement, costume, lighting, editing, something you find interesting.

Whatever that is. Think about what you think. And write about it.

Write a true essay, a personal attempt to explore what you think and why. There's little risk here, so be creative. Take chances. Try out your writing and thinking. Some inspiration: Pauline Kael on A Clockwork Orange; an essay about Blanche DuBois's luggage in the film of Streetcar Named Desire.

You can write one extra-credit essay per month unless otherwise posted.

Upload the essay to turnitin.com, assignment XC month. Name the file, last name-movie title-month. Upload by 23:59 of the last day of the month, or, if your essay is to count for the last month of the semester, by 23:59 of the last class day.

If you don't hear from me, then you earned credit.

Netflix offers all of the pictured films, many by instant view.

For poems

Be Poet Laureate for a day. Memorize any worthy and appropriate poem of at least ten lines from poets.org or poetryfoundation.org and recite it to the class. Simply raise your hand and say, “I have a poem.” Bring a printout of your chosen poem. Once a poem has been recited, it's off limits. (List of recited poems here.) And since you're filling your head with poetry, make it good poetry. I reserve the right to reject bad poems.


Chinatown, frames and lenses


Alfred Hitchcock on cutting


Geometry of a scene


Buster Keaton's art of the gag


Cutting analysis


Composing movement


click image for description