Film Lesson Plan

Please note, this lesson plan was created by as a general guide and is not specific to any particular venue listed on our site.

The minimum speed that the human brain needs in order to process consecutive images as movement. Anything less than that, the human brain will process each frame as a separate picture. 16 is pretty close to 13, which is why old movies look so choppy and unnatural.

Those Disney animators are tricksy folk, and love to hide classic characters in the background for newer films. For example, in the opening scenes of the Little Mermaid, the eagle-eyed may spot Goofy, Mickey and Donald Duck in the audience at King Triton’s concert.

Students will learn about and practice strategies for looking at a film critically.

The first motion picture was made in 1878, lasted only a few seconds, and did not include any actors, only a horse. Today’s movies typically run for more than two hours and include numerous actors, as well as hundreds to thousands of extras. Their average budget is $78 million. An untrained eye may view these movies for entertainment purposes only, but a trained, critical eye can gain a deeper experience. Next time you watch a film, look past the attractive actors and scenery, and consider the conscious decisions made by filmmakers to create the fictional worlds that attract moviegoers all over.

– Review relevant vocabulary and key terms: mood, tone, symbolism, theme, motif
– Have students list the last ten movies they’ve seen. Ask them to rate each movie and defend their ratings. Have students revisit their lists and ratings after their class trip.


Ask: Why is the title appropriate for this film?

Describe the lighting in the film. Are there scenes that are particularly dark or bright? Describe these scenes.
Observe the use of camera angles and shots throughout the film.
Opinion: Does the film deserve the rating it was given? Why or why not?
Compare the mood/tone during two scenes in the film. How is the mood/tone conveyed in each scene?
Challenge: Watch for and identify symbols throughout the film; symbols can be inanimate objects, colors, etc.
Discuss the film’s themes and motifs and how they are communicated to the audience.
Project: Write a prequel, sequel, or alternate ending to the film.
Research the origin of the film’s story. Was it based on a true story? Was it originally a book?
Social Impact: Does the film convey a larger central message about life or society? Explain how the film highlights the societal issues and how it responds to these issues.