31 August 2021 498 Views

How to write a film essay

by James Murphy

A How to Guide..



A film essay is a common task in academia. Students who study film-related majors often have to work on movie analysis essays. And while many consider such tasks similar to book reviews–purportedly because they both tell a story–they find themselves at a loss when trying to complete film essays. As a result, they often end up focusing on the wrong elements.

While book reviews analyze the plot, the script, and the themes, the film essay works with what makes it unique – the moving picture.

An ineffective approach to the task makes students turn to different services and buy college essay on any topic. However, many find themselves at a crossroads, hesitating whether to reach out to such companies or write a film essay themselves. This guide compiles crucial steps to help you build a comprehensive and flawless movie essay.

Paying close attention to detail

Unlike book reviews, writing a film essay requires being attentive to details. They are pivotal in building various scenes and thus making a movie exclusive. Different people have different strategies on how to capture details and remember them. Some prefer to note everything down as they watch a movie. Others, in turn, like watching the scene two times without using pen and paper. Some others follow an entirely different approach; before watching a movie, they decide on the elements they want to analyze and jot down every related thing that comes across in the film.

It is for you to determine what strategy to follow. What is far more important is to focus on details when watching a movie. You can try covering every tool, or you can select it in advance and keep an eye out for it. Nonetheless, here are the elements for focusing on:

  • Mise-en-scene
  • Music
  • Lighting/color
  • Acting/casting
  • Sets/costume

Interpreting symbols

Of all the pitfalls students face when writing film essays, devoting too much time to interpreting symbols is the most apparent. Such blocks of text are often large and take lots of space. Apart from that, such interpretation isn’t always objective; instead of reviewing film techniques, students delve deep into symbolism, making their essays subjective.

Without a shade of a doubt, writing about symbolic items is pivotal. However, students shouldn’t only interpret the ideas such elements represent but also demonstrate what effects symbols bring. When analyzing the film, it would be best to describe how particular techniques create an emotional impact. Speaking about symbolism cinematically, you refer to scenes and explain what such symbols result in.

Being specific to the film

Another common mistake when analyzing the film is being too broad. For example, when enumerating the colors used in the movie, you only scratch the surface. Such information isn’t too insightful to the reader.

When writing an essay, ask yourself how the use of color is used within the unique context. Colors are vitally important in a movie in that they help shape the film and make it a distinct art piece. Hardly it is possible to imagine Ingmar Bergman’s Persona in color. But suppose it had been shot in color. In that case, what would be different? Therefore, make sure to remain specific, whatever the elements you touch upon in your paper.

Adjusting to the audience

Most likely, it is your professor who will read the essay. Still, it is critical to analyze the audience every time you write a paper. Knowing the audience is essential because it allows you to produce a coherent piece, tailoring the content to the readers’ needs.

First and foremost, check the instructions along with the requirements. They should determine your scope of work by pointing out specific key verbs and questions. Also, look if there are any key themes and technical terms that have been used in lectures. While examining the audience will enable you to meet their expectations, completing the requirements will increase your chances of scoring a high mark.

Following the right mechanics

Film essays, like any other academic paper, must be well-organized and structured. Before submitting your document, make sure it has an introduction, body, and conclusion, with distinctly indented paragraphs. Typically, essays are double-spaced and follow a specific formatting style. Film majors usually follow MLA, but every institution can change the rules, so ensure checking the requirements beforehand.


When writing a film essay, it is paramount to realize that such papers aren’t similar to book reviews. Mainly because movie essays pay little attention to the script and plot, focusing more on cinematic components. The mentioned steps will help you find unique elements and write an impeccable movie essay.




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