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Memorizing movies for an exam


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#1 Andrei Spirache

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 08:35 AM

One of the requirements for the admission exam to the cinematography school I want to attend is to memorize 10 movies: the lighning, the composition, details etc.
Does anybody know what would be a good method to do that? I think that by watching them over and over is not a solution.

Thank you
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 08:45 AM

It's a brain skill like any other. Training and practice. Practice, practice, practice. When I went back to college at age 39 I had to retrain my brain to store and retrieve words so I could ace my written tests. When I was a late teenager I aggressively trained my brain to store and retrieve visual information. I watched Apocalypse Now over and over on VHS. I would lay awake at night replaying it perfectly in my head. If I lost track of a part I would watch it again over and over until, eventually, I could play it back completely, front to back and in real time (or as close as my brain could assess that). I could also play it back and forth at any speed as if it were on a Umatic edit controller.

It's just a brain skill. Yet, from the way you've phrased your question, it seems that the school wants you to store aspects of these movies. Which sounds almost as much of a list of appropriate words about them as it is visual storage.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 03:19 PM

Watch it with the sound off (alone because you'll feel stupid doing this with other people) and talk about what you're seeing. Make yourself the commentary. It works.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 03:27 PM

If you have it on DVD you can try making up screen grab flash cards of important shots etc.
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#5 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 04:40 PM

I wouldn't take the memorizing of 10 films too seriously, that just sounds a little silly.

However, naming 10 films that you love to watch and why you love to watch them, what is it as an aspiring

cinematographer that these films do photographically above others that have inspired you into a career in

cinematography, that is what I would like to hear from a potential student at a film school.

but I think 3 films would be enough!

Best of luck to you, I think It's a silly requirement!

Kieran.
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#6 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 06:02 PM

I wouldn't take the memorizing of 10 films too seriously, that just sounds a little silly.

Kieran.

Agreed. I'm not sure what the point of just memorizing them would be. Unless they're just encouraging their students to copy other filmmakers work.....
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#7 Gus Sacks

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 06:49 PM

Yeah, that seems pretty useless and quite a trivial exercise. What school is this?
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#8 Andrei Spirache

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 02:17 AM

It's the National Theatre and Film University from Bucharest, Romania.
There are two memory exams, one for short term memory (they play a scene from a movie you supposedly didn't see before and you analyze it) and the other one (with the 10 films to remember) for long term memory.
The main thing is to see if you know stuff about the light, framing etc not the memory part. The long term memory exam will be like: "Analyze scene x from film y" and you have to remember the scene in order to talk about it.
Thank's for all the answers!
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#9 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 03:48 PM

It's the National Theatre and Film University from Bucharest, Romania.
There are two memory exams, one for short term memory (they play a scene from a movie you supposedly didn't see before and you analyze it) and the other one (with the 10 films to remember) for long term memory.
The main thing is to see if you know stuff about the light, framing etc not the memory part. The long term memory exam will be like: "Analyze scene x from film y" and you have to remember the scene in order to talk about it.
Thank's for all the answers!



Well that's a different approach to memorizing 10 films, I misunderstood, my apologies! Memorizing scenes from films is something
every film lover does almost instinctively, the staging, lighting, movement, and the analyses thereof is crucial to a film education.

Do you get a list of films to consider before hand?

If so I would watch them over and over and try to figure out where the key scenes are, OR search on the web there must be a
comprehensive analyses of every important film somewhere.

Good Luck with your entrance exam!

Kieran.
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#10 Aaron Canaday

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 01:43 AM

I'm a visual person, so I would suggest drawing super-simple storyboards on the back of flash cards. Have a group of flash cards for each movie, and just visualize each scene before you flip the cards over. Of course I guess the feasibility of this idea depends on how precisely you have to memorize these films...
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#11 Bob Hayes

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:45 AM

Sure I can see the logic and if you love film this will be easy. For example memorize your favorite holiday meal. How hard is that? If you love something you can’t get it out of your mind.

It may help to break it down into its components. Bruce Block has a great book “The Visual Story” that really deals with the language of film much like you would study music. Here are a few high lights.

TONE: Is the film dark or light or parts of it dark and other parts light? Give examples. And why do you think the film makers made these choices.

COLOR: What is the color pallet of the picture? Is Browns and grays or pinks and blues? Are the colors bright and colorful or drab and desaturated? Pick some scenes that reflect this.

MOVEMENT: What does the camera do that gives the film its visual core? Does it have a hand held documentary feel or are the images more carefully composed.

RHYTHM: Is it quick and cutty or do the takes flow slowly and effortlessly?

DEPTH: Does the film use long lenses to compress space or wide lenses to exaggerate your characters and their environment.

I think if you look at your films and describe the shots that really knock you out using some key elements of the photography you will begin to hear the music.
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#12 Tom Jensen

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:00 PM

Also, what is motivating the light source. Is it the sun, a lamp, a tv, or a window. You will see the source in the wide shot. Of course many close ups leave you wondering, where did that light come from.
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#13 Morgan Peline

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:55 AM

I think this is a thing that people who are obsessed with cinema do without thinking, you just kind of remember movies because you like watching the so much. I remember a few years ago I used to be able to remember the name of a movie just by seeing a few frames on a tv.

- Watch them without sound.

- Watch two movies with different styles back-to-back. The differences will really stand out in your head and it's a great tool to analyse different ways movies have been constructed. I do this quite often. As a teacher said to me many years ago..."All cinema is about contrast".
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