CUNY COMPosition & Rhetoric Community

3 Minute Movie Essay Sample Assignment

Sean Molloy (22 Aug. 2014).

3 Minute Movie Version of One of Your Text Essays

Over the next several weeks, you will write and create a movie essay that you publish to youtube or another internet platform.  Feel free to try creative approaches here.  Consider how you can use different elements in powerful combinations.  The only three constraints are: 1) the movie must address the same thesis question that you have developed for one of your multi-draft, mostly text essays, 2) the final movie must run under three minutes, and 3) you must provide me with a link that takes me to a published, playable movie for both the draft and final versions.

First Step — The Treatment/Screenplay

Your treatment or screenplay should be 2-3 pages and the title should be the thesis question you are revisiting here.

A treatment is pretty much any summary of a movie idea.  It can be very informal.  For your treatment, consider elements you will use, and how they might fit together.  Drop in visual elements you plan to include.  Consider music choices from public domain or creative commons licensed choices, or add your own tracks.  Consider the types of appeals and impact you want to have on your viewing audience.

We’ve looked at the Lincoln movie screenplay together.  Screenplays are formal and detailed blueprints for movies.  If you plan to use voiceover narration, you may want to plan it out in a screenplay, rather than a treatment.  A three minute movie would normally have a three page screenplay.  A screenplay is a little harder to do, so I’ll give extra credit if you write a screenplay for your movie.

Nothing in your treatment or screenplay will keep you from changing the movie later.  But they can save you a lot of time by avoiding big changes later on– which are much more work in a movie editor than in a treatment.  We’ll workshop these together in class and I’ll give you my comments.

Second Step — The Rough Cut/ Draft Movie

These can be longer than three minutes. The title should be the thesis question. Like the middle draft of any project, you are mostly adding elements here, sometimes in rough form.  As you edit the draft, you will probably add some things, change some things and then cut and trim away extra pieces to get down to your final running time.

We’ll talk about copyright laws together and read about them in a graphic novel, Bound By Law?, so you have a sense of how they apply to your project.

Give yourself time to play with a movie editor program or two well before the deadline.  You’ll get full credit if you: 1) publish a movie to youtube or another internet platform 2) on time 3) that plays when I click the link you give me, and 4) addresses your thesis question in some way.

Often, movies can’t cover the whole discussion in the text essay.  That’s OK.  Your movie can highlight part of the text essay, speak to a different aspect of the thesis completely, serve as a trailer for the essay, or complement it in some way.  You have many creative options here.

Third Step –  The Final Cut

After we workshop the rough draft movies and I give you my comments, the final cut will be due.  The title should still be the thesis question.  The final cut also must be published to an internet platform.  You’ll give me the direct link and you will also embed or link the movie into your website portfolio.  As a class, you will decide what I look for when I watch and assess them as part of your website portfolios.

We will have a “movie night” class in our last week together, where we watch all our movies on the big screen!

Fourth Step — Reflection Essay

In your portfolio, you will also write a reflection essay that considers all the different writing lenses you have studied in this course as they have applied to your writing and your thinking about writing.  I’ll ask you to include a separate section in that essay that  focuses on the different processes between your text essay and your movie essay and how you re-crafted your rhetorical choices in the movie version.

A Note on Publishing Your Movies:  You will publish your movies and you can control how accessible they are to other people.  So long as I can play them and you can play them, you are good.  For example, on youtube, you can choose to publish as private, unlisted or public.  After class is over, you can delist your movies if you choose.  Or you can promote your movie and see how many viewers you can attract to your work.