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So there are lists all over the place, of course, to mark raves and disses across the spectrum of motion picture media, for the year or the decade past.  I really liked this one with a nice theme curated by the folks at Criterion: Hidden Gems of the 2010s. And it’s worth it just to see the suggestion for Twin Peaks to “become part of the core curriculum of high schools across this country.” Hahaha, we’ll see about that!

And for documentaries? Try this list from Paste, which has informative intros for their 30 choices.

There was this interesting piece from a couple of years ago picking 25 best movies for this century so far (until then, at least), and it has a link to choices from Sofia Coppola, Denis Villeneuve, and Alex Gibney, among others. Speaking of Villeneuve and Coppola, Dune and On the Rocks are both due in 2020!

I am presenting Media Creation in Action: MLE Collaborative Principles in the Classroom at the Northeast Media Literacy Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 8, 2019.  Welcome to my presentation!

Here is a pdf of the slideshow. Here is one of the exercises described through the case study.

Don’t forget this post with screenwriting resources!  Here is the interview referenced in the case study.

MLE Lesson Resources

As a new school year begins, here is a quick update on one of the most comprehensive and dynamic resource hubs for media literacy lessons and videos designed for elementary, middle, and high school learners: KQED Education.  In their “For Classrooms” section, teachers can find lesson plans for Humanities or STEM units, or Elementary media literacy education.  For professional development, educators are also encouraged to check out their coursework in KQED Teach and PBS Media Literacy Educators Certification. Some might want to go straight to the topical videos produced by PBS Digital Studios, check out the Above the Noise channel (or its previous incarnation, The Lowdown, with stories from 2018 and before, organized by theme).  And for those looking for an overall national resource from public media, here is the PBS Learning Media page, from which one can also search for links to local stations and related resources.

Update 2020: An election year is here, and a special Youth Media Challenge has been set up for educators and students.  Check it out!

Developing dynamic and moving performances can be one of the greatest challenges for actors and directors working in collaboration.  Let’s add to the mix another set of creators who generate performances in motion pictures: animators.

Here are some interesting resources that highlight the extensive work of animators in developing compelling and well-defined characters through drawn or CG images.  First, there is an excellent article on the work of Pixar animators for a new movie featuring a beloved character: Woody in Toy Story 4.  Along with Tom Hanks’s exceptional voice work, a team of animators led by director Josh Cooley (at least for this fourth installment of the franchise) worked diligently to capture the wide range of emotions and traits seen in Woody and the rest of the Toy Story gang, and this is explored extensively in this piece by journalist Darryn King.

To investigate the ties between acting and animated film, it is critical to explore the creations of the Japanese master director Hayao Miyazaki.  Here are two articles on Miyazaki: an interview from The Telegraph and an overview of his career and the films of Studio Ghibli.

From “Cumo” by Emily Fabrizi

Speaking of performance through animation, here are two films from students of mine.  Cumo is an exceptionally crafted and delightful piece of animation by high school senior Emily Fabrizi that is highly worthwhile to explore for its reliance on performance — and without dialogue!  Another animated movie that weaves a strong character-driven portrait — and once again without any dialogue — is this award-winning college project by my former student Brendan Kirschbaum: Solo.  Both shorts feature many elements worthy of study for nuances in performance, all crafted by animators.

The title to this post notwithstanding, it seems that there’s not much that can be described as “business as usual” these days in the world of motion picture media.  Those interested in connections between media production and the business of creating motion pictures and reaching viewers — particularly related to streaming platforms and television (or cable) production — will be very interested in this new article from the New York Times: The Great Race to Rule Streaming TV, by Jonah Weiner.

In the Video and Television Production course that I teach, students complete research-based presentations on today’s media platforms and motion picture creators (particularly those working outside of traditional media structures, as well as television-based figures such as show runners), and this article would serve as a good source for initiating discussion of ongoing trends and contexts of current media production.  In addition, students can consider the very important point of how the behavior of viewers (particularly them!) profoundly impacts these tremendous shifts in the creation of content for motion pictures.