Intro to Film TA15- Syllabus for all Versions of this Course

(16 week, 6 week, 4 week)


Instructor: James Callner MA (off: 408-741-2456)   (james_callner@wvm.edu)

Office Hours: M-F 3-6pm via Email: james_callner@wvm.edu or via appointment via Skype or WVC office. 

Reminder to ALL: This class comes in a three version, a 16 week semester version, a 6 week version and a four week version. The short accelerated six and four-week versions are usually offered during the semester and interim winter and summer sessions. They are the same class with they same information on this syllabus but in an accelerated six and four week session. Please check your WVC schedule. This course is a UC and USC transferable class. Depending on your time and workload will depend on which version of this you decide to take. The six and four-week version are fast paced and you will need the time. Some students like the quickness of the class but others need the time. Again, this syllabus is the same for all versions of this class whether it be 16, 6 or 4 weeks .The information and tests, extra credit are the same. The quickness is the issue. ThatŐs up to you to decide. You will learn about the history of film in this course.                             

Laurel and Hardy image


Pass/no pass Option Available



 American Cinema/American Culture Third Edition

Author: Belton/ Publisher McGraw Hill

Available at the West Valley College bookstore or

Online  Amazon www.amazon.com


The American Cinema/American Culture-Second Edition

This edition can work for this class and is cheaper on Amazon to buy. However you must be careful about the organization of the chapters. We organized the information for the third addition but the information is the same in the 2nd as well.  The author put more chapters in the third addition and getting the 2nd addition may be difficult but if you can get it go for it!


Videos to watch online:

All 13 programs available at: (Free)



Or Rent videos at: West Valley College Library  (Videos and Resources)

How this class works?

First read this syllabus in its entirety.

Go to the West Valley College web site at www.westvalley.edu

Click on Distant Learning

If you are not already in Angel, login in using your student ID # for the "Username" and your 6 digit birth date for the password. Here is the link to Angel:


Begin each week by doing the following:

1.     Click on the Lessons tab.

2.     Click on the number of the current week and follow the instructions for that week, clicking on the Weekly Viewing/Reading Assignments. Some weeks have additional links such as extra credit assignments. Make sure you click on these and read the directions.

 3.     Click on the American Cinema online link and watch the episode for the week (given in the weeks viewing assignment). The first time you do this you will have to create a user ID. Make a record of your user ID and password.

4.     Do not click on a test until you are ready to take it, as you only have one chance to take each test. Tests will appear in the appropriate weeks folder during that actual week. If you go into a week with a test early you will not see the test.

5.     Remember to check your course e-mail. This is found under the communicate tab.

Note: You have the full week to complete most assignments except for classes that have tests. Many times there will be an announcement on Angel that ALL the TESTS will be open the entire sessions. That means you may take them any time but not retake them. Be careful with this. You must be ready for these tests for they are open book and open note tests but nor easy .You will have 3 hours to take teach test online. Most students finish in 90 minutes to 2 hours with preparation. Look for that announcement for open tests on Angel. The instructor does NOT always open the tests for the full session. It is very important to keep up with the assignments. If you need to Email the instructor please use the Angel Email system Or directly at jamescallner@sbcglobal.net

CONTENT AND PURPOSE:  This course explores Hollywood motion pictures as art form, as an industry, and as a system of representation and communication. The course will explore how these films work technically, artistically, and culturally to reinforce and challenge America's national self-image. It also examines the language of film. You will learn the art of filmmaking and its history, as well as the evolution and transformation of the "Hollywood System," and the production of popular genres. Most important, you will learn to become a more active and critical film viewer.


REMINDER:  Keep up with the assigned reading and the videotapes (DVDs).  You may find yourself in deep trouble if you do not stay on schedule as outlined in the Lessons Tab in the Angel Online program. Also visit the resource website at: www.mhhe.com/cinema2.  It contains sample quizzes and chapter outlines that could really help you.





Please refer to the Lessons Tab in Angel. This will tell you when you have test. There are three 50 question multiple choice/True False tests in this course. All are open book and open notes.. The key to a great grade in this course is to keep up with the viewing of the videos each week and reading assignments. Take plenty of notes on the most pertinent information or themes in the videos and reading material. Note, Questions in the tests are from the book and videoŐs be sure to take plenty of notes.. Remember all the tests will be open book and open notes but you need to keep.


Extra Credit Papers:

 These can be completed and turned in anytime before the final. Extra credit is to your advantage.

 You see in the Lessons Tab that you have the option of doing some extra credit to be sure you get a great grade. Each extra credit paper is worth 15 points Please take advantage of these extra credit papers that may be turned in via Angel ANY time during the four weeks. It is crucial that you consider doing these short papers. It can potentially change your grade a full letter. The extra credit is designed to only help you. It's your choice.

Each essay is worth 15 extra credit points.  You cannot lose by doing the essays!  They can only help you.  Here's how to get the most possible points:

 Show us that:

1.  You can apply your understanding of genre and style to a film that's not heavily covered in the chapter.

2.  You can analyze the way in which technical elements of your film support the genre and style.  (i.e. Camera angles, shots, lighting, sound, editing)

3.    You actually watched the film and can tellus what you actually felt about it not just what the film was about!!!!

 Extra Credit:

Please check folders under Lessons Tab on Angel for full details:

Extra Credit Paper #1:

Be sure to watch (and take notes on...) one film that fits as "Classical Hollywood Narrative," described in Chapter 2.  Your film does not have to be in the fillmography at the end of Chapter 2, but it MUST fit in that category.  See extra credit essay online for the essay topic.

 Note: Chapter 3 offers ways to "technically" analyze the movie you watch.  Also visit the resource website at: www.mhhe.com/cinema2

Extra Credit Paper #2:

Film Critique Paper.

This is an easy one for most students but at the time something you truly need to think about for I will be grading on:

1. Thoughtfulness of response.

2. Thoroughness and individuality of response.

3. Use of specific and unique examples to make your points.

4. Honesty.

Choose a movie from the genres we have been studying e.g., Combat, Film Noir, Musicals, Romantic Comedy, Dramatic etc. It can be a contemporary film or an older film.

Write a two-page paper (DOUBLE spaced) on how it made you feel and how it changed your life for the better. I donŐt want an explanation of what the film was about but examples of scenes that made you feel something or you related to the emotion in your own life. Give examples.

(In my own life the film As Good as It Gets gave me a variety of emotions for I would relate with the Jack Nicholson Character and his struggles. If I were writing this extra Credit paper I would pick out a couple of scenes and explain how it made me feel. Honestly.)

(Not as easy as you think ~ but thatŐs what movies are for..to make us think and feel.)

Submit all Extra Credit by send to me via Angel or directly to james_callner@wvm..edu

 Online folder of Film terms:

There is a short online folder of some basic film terminology. Be sure to look at this material for some of it appears in questions in Test #3.


Tests Grading:

They are each worth 50 points and 33.1/3% of your grade.

Total points in the semester 150 Points


Test Scores and Semester Grades

Test Scores are graded as follows:

Total Possible Points = 50

40 - 50 = A

33 - 39 = B

30 - 32 = C

27 - 29 = D

26 or less = F

Semester grades are calculated as follows:

Total Possible Points = 150

120 - 150 = A

99 - 119 = B

90 - 98 = C

81 - 89 = D

80 or less = F

How to see each week's video on your computer: It's free!

Although this is a Online Course and all the programs can be viewed on your home computer by going to: http://www.learner.org/view_programs/view.programs.html    Sign up as a first time user in the Online via Video on Demand section.

Once logged in you will then go the drop down under Browse Student (or Teacher) resources and drop down to Arts and Grade

College. Almost done. Find American Cinema and you can click on the VOD to seen the segments Online for Free!


                   READING/VIEWING ASSIGNMENTS: PLEASE CHECK LESSON TAB ON ANGEL . Note: All CURRENT of this information is Online in the Lessons Tab section of Angel


                                           Video Program 1 (Classic Hollywood Style)

                                              and Read Chapter 2

                                           Video Program 2 (The Studio System)

                                              and Read Chapter 4

                                           Video Program 3 (The Star)

                                              and Read Chapter 5

                                           Also read Chapters 1 and  3!



                                           Video Program 4 (The Western)

                                              and Read Chapter 11

                                           Video Program 5 (Romantic Comedy)

                                              and Read Chapter 8

                                           Video Program 6  (The Combat Film)

                                              and Read Chapter 9

                                           Also read Chapter 7 (The Musical)

                                                                       ... and Review Chapter 3!



                                           Video Program 7 (Film Noire)

                                              and Read Chapter 10

                                           Video Program 8 (Film in the Television Age)

                                              and Read Chapter 13 and 14

                                           Video Program 9 (The Film School Generation)

                                              and Read Chapter 15

                                           Video Program 10 (The Edge of Hollywood)

                                              and Read Chapter 16 and 17, review Chap 19



                     Tapes 11-13 recommend.

                                           Tape 11 (Film Language)

                                           Tape 12 (Writing and Thinking about Film)

                                           Tape 13 (Classical Hollywood Style Today)


SLO -  Student Learning Outcome: Analyze cinema as a literary form and cinema as entertainment by comparing film genres and cinematic techniques.

Assessment: Examinations.


Disability Statement 

West Valley College makes reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Students should notify DESP (Disability & Educational Support Program) located in the Learning Services building (408-741-5085) of any special needs.