FILM 101 Foundations of Cinema for Majors

Chi Jang Yin

Office: CDM 465
Winter 2022-2023
Class number: 28531
Section number: 503
W 1:30PM - 4:45PM
CDM 00708 Loop Campus
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Film is a language, a new language, and a language of ideas.”

–from The Story of Film: An Odyssey by Mark Cousins


Course Description

This course emphasizes understanding and exploring cinema literacy knowledge. Drawing heavily on historical and contemporary examples, this class aims to inspire students to learn about film terminology and strategies for creating moving image art forms. An emphasis is placed on understanding film theory and history, creating studio projects, and discussing and writing about films. In addition to analyzing film forms from different regions and genres, class assignments include students producing their own short projects and putting theory into practice. Please Note: This course teaches concepts rather than technology. Filmmakers will take the concepts learned in Film 101 to better communicate their ideas in Production I (Film110) and beyond.


Course Objectives

As an art form, cinema is distinguished from other arts; unlike other art forms, a film is a composite and inclusive art form that tends to include various art forms like literature, theater, installation, sound art, visual art, etc., under the banner of a single art form. 

This seminar and discussion-based course will introduce students to the appreciation of the art of cinema from the point of view of the filmmaker. Film analysis goes beyond the study of film as literature to include camera angles, lighting, set design, sound elements, costume choices, editing, etc., in making an argument. By the end of the course, students should have a basic understanding of film language and be able to meaningfully integrate mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, and editing into their own creative works. The following topics will be covered: 

  • The history of cinema and film analysis;
  • The important usage of narrative, thematic concept, and ideas in film;
  • Basics image composition and editing;
  • Basics lighting and sound design; 
  • Understanding film forms: Narrative, documentary, experimental, and animation approaches and their intersections


Film 101 Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the film function and terminology in the art of storytelling and beyond.
  • Integrate the relationship between theory and practice in the filmmaking process.
  • Examine the aesthetic principles of visual and sound design, film style, and film form in cinematic art and media.
  • Employ film language in the analysis of short and feature-length media.
  • Create short film projects demonstrating the aesthetic through critical and practical material that students learn from the course.


Required Text Available online through the DePaul library 

1) Book: Film Art: An Introduction, 2018 | 12th edition, Bordwell, David; Thompson, Kristin; Smith, Jeff

2) Book: Closely watched films: an introduction to the art of narrative film techniqueMarilyn Fabe, 2014, Berkeley: University of California Press

3) A Short Guide to Write about Film, Timothy Corrigan, Addison Wesley Longman






Silent Photomontage Story (Groups)                   10%

Sound Project (Individual)                                    10%

Self Portrait (Individual)                                        15%

Bi-Weekly Film Essay Paper (Individual)              25%

Final Short Film (Individual or Groups)                 30%

Class attendance and Participation                      10%


Grading Scale:

A = 100 – 94, A= 93 – 90, B+ = 89 – 88, B = 87 – 83, B= 82 – 80, C+ = 79 – 78, C = 77 – 73, C = 72 – 70, D+ = 69 – 68, D = 67 – 63, D- = 62 – 60, F = 59 – 0


Standards for Achievement (See rubrics on D2L):

A indicates excellence

B indicates good work

C indicates satisfactory work

D work is unsatisfactory in some respect

F is substantially unsatisfactory work

School policies:

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary during the quarter. If a change occurs, it will be thoroughly addressed during class, posted under Announcements in D2L and sent via email.

Online Course Evaluations

Evaluations are a way for students to provide valuable feedback regarding their instructor and the course. Detailed feedback will enable the instructor to continuously tailor teaching methods and course content to meet the learning goals of the course and the academic needs of the students. They are a requirement of the course and are key to continue to provide you with the highest quality of teaching. The evaluations are anonymous; the instructor and administration do not track who entered what responses. A program is used to check if the student completed the evaluations, but the evaluation is completely separate from the student’s identity. Since 100% participation is our goal, students are sent periodic reminders over three weeks. Students do not receive reminders once they complete the evaluation. Students complete the evaluation online in CampusConnect.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

This course will be subject to the university's academic integrity policy. More information can be found at If you have any questions be sure to consult with your professor.

All students are expected to abide by the University's Academic Integrity Policy which prohibits cheating and other misconduct in student coursework. Publicly sharing or posting online any prior or current materials from this course (including exam questions or answers), is considered to be providing unauthorized assistance prohibited by the policy. Both students who share/post and students who access or use such materials are considered to be cheating under the Policy and will be subject to sanctions for violations of Academic Integrity.

Academic Policies

All students are required to manage their class schedules each term in accordance with the deadlines for enrolling and withdrawing as indicated in the University Academic Calendar. Information on enrollment, withdrawal, grading and incompletes can be found at

Students with Disabilities

Students who feel they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss their specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential.
To ensure that you receive the most appropriate accommodation based on your needs, contact the instructor as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at:
Lewis Center 1420, 25 East Jackson Blvd.
Phone number: (312)362-8002
Fax: (312)362-6544
TTY: (773)325.7296