Filmmaking Journal Prompts


1. Make a list of all the books that you have read that were made into movies. Which version did you like better? Explain why.

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins~ I enjoyed both the movies and the books. The books highlight the struggles and courage that it takes to stand up and fight. I fell in love with the story because of how realistic and emotional it was. The performances that the actors and actresses gave were extremely raw which helped carry the insight of the story throughout the films. The movies don’t have as much detail as the books but still stay true to the story as a whole which I enjoyed.

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth~ I enjoyed the books more then the movies. I feel the books represent stronger intentions and morals that the characters possess. These morals were shown through specific details that weren’t shown throughout the movies. The details incorporated issues from the story as a whole which were overlooked in the movies.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold~I enjoyed the book more then the movie. The movie left out many important details which made the story incomplete as a whole. The book is more realistic as the story faces uncomfortable topics that the movie only shows a surface of.

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen~ I enjoyed both the movie and the book. The book takes us through the hardships of how illness can affect relationships. I feel the performances throughout the movie do an excellent job of reflecting the struggles that the characters go through.

The Witches Of Eastwick by John Updike~ I enjoyed the movie more then the book. The performances were very fun and intriguing to watch and the cast did a good job of putting their own twist within the personalities of the characters. The visuals leave you on the edge of your seat as the excitement builds as the story continues to flow. I feel the book has to much unnecessary detail that makes the story longer then it needs to be.
2. Which movies have had the greatest impact on you? Explain by using examples of the characters, themes, what you admire, and different scenes you saw in the films.

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
The Godfather Part 1 and 2~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the cast. The Godfather was the true beginning of their careers and to see them grow as performers has been such a pleasure. I look up to and respect every single performer and appreciate how dedicated they are to their characters.

The Conversation~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the characters. I can relate to their intensity and insecurity. The characters have a sense of mystery to them which gave me an interesting sense of comfort based on their intentions.

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Goodfellas~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the loyalty between the characters. I appreciate how tough they are and their willingness to stick by their words. Through their mistakes they are always looking for a chance at redemption which is a very admirable trait.

Raging Bull~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the characters struggles to become something great. I can relate to their feelings of hopelessness and feeling worthless within trying to find a sense of purpose. They often go through periods of self destruction but always come out stronger in the end.

The Departed~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the characters convictions. They are caught in the middle as they figure out which is the right side to take. I appreciate the fight the characters go through in trying to figure out how to get ahead through the conflicts they face.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial~ This movie has the greatest impact on me because I watched this film many times throughout my childhood. I have always been in awe of the music and the relationships that the characters develop. This movie will always have a special place in my heart because I love the story and the characterization.

Always~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the love and compassion between the characters. I feel very connected to their sadness and struggles within their losses. I appreciate the strong emotions they feel because those emotions radiate through the scene.

Schindler’s List~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because the story reflects my religious history. I was so emotionally drained from watching that I wasn’t able to finish the whole movie. The story is so personal to me that the importance of the issues addressed leave me saddened and angry.

Directed by: David O. Russell
Silver Linings Playbook~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because this was the first David O. Russell film I saw. The movie highlights issues with mental illness that I face everyday with my anxiety. I appreciate the honesty and integrity between the characters.

The Fighter~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the dysfunctional lifestyle the characters lead. The characters are often struggling with feeling good enough and wanting to make their families proud. I have gone through that struggle a lot throughout my life and appreciate the heart and determination the characters have.

Joy~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the story. The characters never gave up and are determined to accomplish whatever goals they have. The story inspires me to push through and never give up on my dreams.

Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Marie Antoinette~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the search for self identity within the characters. The characters are searching for a purpose while struggling with the doubts of other people. I often felt as if I wasn’t important enough throughout my life which has made me more sympathetic, empathetic, and sensitive towards others. I have a lot of respect and understanding for these characters and their fight to rediscover themselves.

Somewhere~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the relationship between father and daughter. I was very moved by the story because it reflected the relationship between my dad and I. The story represents the struggles of fatherhood and how he wants the best for his child. The dad will sacrifice anything to make his daughter happy and I know my dad would do anything for me.

Directed by: Mike Nichols
Silkwood~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the writing, directing, and the cast as a whole. Nora Ephron cowrote the script the script and Mike Nichols directed the movie. They are some of my favorite artists in the film industry and I have an insane amount of respect for how they brought the story to life. The performers incorporated the struggles of feeling safe and the fear of taking chances. The acting made the story more relatable and got me very emotionally involved.

Heartburn~This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of how realistic the story was. Nora Ephron wrote the script with a lot of heart and humor. I found myself feeling very sympathetic towards the characters and wishing the best for them.

Working Girl~ This movie has had the greatest impact on me because of the message behind the story. The story reflects the kind of impact women can have on the work force. The characters are always willing to push themselves to be successful which is what I try to do for myself everyday.

3. Pick one or two of your favorite movie characters and create an elaborate backstory for them.

Movie: Dog Day Afternoon
Character: Sal
Portrayed by: John Cazale

Sal grew up in a very isolated household. His father was an abusive alcoholic who threatened Sal emotionally and verbally. He was more attached to his mother growing up who lived in constant fear of her alcoholic husband. Sal’s mother was constantly torn between staying or leaving which made Sal feel very alone and insecure. This insecurity instilled a sense of attentiveness within Sal as he began to sneak out in the middle of the night to rob stores. He knew this was wrong but found no other way to provide for him and his mother. The situation worsened when he finally got caught. The police called his mother who had no idea of her son’s whereabouts. Furious, his mother sent him away to a boarding school where he met another young man by the name of Sonny. They developed a quiet and intuitive relationship which carried through their crimes as they both continued to rob stores and banks for the rest of their lives.

Movie: The Conversation
Character: Stan
Portrayed by: John Cazale

Stan grew up in a dysfunctional family environment. His dad left just days after he was born leaving his mother to care for an only child. She became very overwhelmed and tired with everyday life which led her to make the decision for Stan to live with her parents for a while. Stan was very reluctant to leave and resented his mother for a while afterward but had to let the anger go when the unthinkable happened. Stan’s mother had gone to the doctor after complaining about chest pains, exhaustion, and a really bad cough and was ultimately diagnosed with lung cancer. She had a month to live and Stan was allowed to visit her in the hospital. He went to see her a couple of days before she passed and just sat watching her. He observed the way she breathed and talked before watching her pass slowly in her sleep. After her death, he didn’t talk. He watched. He listened. At the start of his sophomore year of high school, he met Harry Caul. Stan was fascinated by his body language and intensity. He was brave enough to point out his observations to Harry who admired Stan’s eye for detail. He asked Stan if he wanted to work with him on a school project. From then on, they were friends and eventually worked together.

4. What was the strongest emotion you felt when watching some of your favorite films for the first time?

Meryl Streep and Al Pacino are two of my favorite performers ever to walk onto a film set. The very first Meryl Streep movie I ever saw was The Devil Wears Prada. I was around five or six years old and she took my breath away. I was in awe of her beauty and intimidated by her sass. I fell in love with the movie and her character all while feeling a sense of happiness and amazement of her persona and talent. The very first Al Pacino movie I saw was The Godfather. I had watched it for the first time last summer after hearing rave reviews. Al amazed me the minute he entered the frame. I could clearly see the intensity within his body language and could hear the conflict within his voice. His dedication to that character gave me a feeling of pride and hope that I could create characters that were as influential as he was one day.

5. Look up the different camera angles and their meanings. Which angle has the greatest effect within a film? Why?

The full shot, the two shot, and the over the shoulder are the camera angles that have the greatest effect within a film. The full shot gives the audience a full frame of the character. This allows the audience to observe the physicality of the character based on the situation they are placed in. This situation often reflects the growing conflicts the characters face. The two shot represents the close interaction between two characters. These interactions often reflect the character’s motives, intentions, and impulses. The over the shoulder shot represents the intensity of the character being addressed. These camera angles have the greatest effect within a film because the angles give a clear insight into the super objective of the characters.

The Geographical Setting Of Film Is All About Perspective

The geographical setting of film is this idea of perspective. Each person that has ever stepped behind a camera has had a vision. Each vision represents the purpose of the story. This purpose is known as the super objective or goal of the scene. This super objective is what guides the actors to begin the process of becoming the character. Based on this process, the director is able to guide the actors and actresses to represent the story in an aesthetic way.
Francis Ford Coppola is the award winning director of movies such as The Godfather Trilogy, Apocalypse Now, and The Conversation. Each movie is able to draw an audience in based on the characterization. His characters are often very distinct in their abilities to voice their needs. These needs come from the impulses and intentions that the characters possess. These impulses are shown through the discomfort in their body language. Audiences can clearly see a visual representation of the tension within the scene.
This type of tension is also related through the different emotions that vibrate throughout a scene. Martin Scorsese is a visionary in his pursuit of making the most destructive of movies with films such as Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Aviator, and The Departed. Scorsese works with very violent and vulnerable characters. This violence is shown through a dangerous period of self doubt that the characters witness or go through in their lives. These doubts send the characters into a period of fanciful hallucinations. These hallucinations create a sense of solidarity that the characters only seem to find within themselves.
This solidarity also coexists with this theme of social projection. Social projection is the act of making judgments within a small group of people which is what director Mike Nichols is primarily known for. With movies such as Silkwood, Heartburn, and Working Girl, his characters are often battling with this idea of being socially accepted within a group of people. These characters are battling with their theoretical observations while their peers have a more pragmatic view. These pragmatic views cause their peers to become very egotistical which causes a sense of disparagement between the characters. In the end of these disputes, the atmosphere becomes more impartial to the character’s needs.
These disagreements within being socially accepted can lead to a dysfunctional lifestyle. Director David O. Russell reflects these dysfunctional characteristics through family life. With movies such as Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, and Joy, his characters represent the struggles with fighting for respect and acceptance. This fight for respect comes from issues with self confidence that stems from mental health. Issues with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, drug abuse, etc. are shown through learning how to begin the process of self love. David O. Russell shows the difficulties of gaining confidence through manipulative, controlling, arrogant, and flawed environments which help the characters grow as individuals.
This type of growth can help influence films in authentic and compassionate ways. Steven Spielberg is known as one of the greatest directors of all time because of his use of visuals and sounds to represent influential moments throughout the story. Spielberg’s visuals show the conflicting emotions the characters face when involved in stressful situations. These stressful and chaotic environments reveal the characters compelling mannerisms in a more honest way. With films such as E.T, Saving Private Ryan, and Jurassic Park, the sounds evoke a type of suspense and fear with each person involved in the scene. This helps develop a more compassionate interaction between the characters.
In conclusion, the idea of perspective represents the geographical setting of a film because it’s what makes the story happen. Perspective is what the director relies on and reflects how the performers get into character. Through these characters, the performers are able to enhance the story. Through this enhancement (along with visuals and sound), you have a film

The Great Gatsby (2013) Movie Review

Staring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton

Written by: Baz Luhrman, Craig Pearce

Directed by: Baz Luhrman

The Great Gatsby is a story of how loyalty can be a blessing and a curse. Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire), is a quiet and observant man. He has big dreams and strong intentions that he keeps to himself because he values his privacy. His cousin Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan), is a woman who doesn’t value herself because of her marriage with Tom (played by Joel Edgerton). Tom is a selfish and arrogant man who neglects his family while he goes out and parties causing him to sleep with other women.

The loyalty that Tom and Daisy have shatters when Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), comes into the picture. Gatsby is a man who lives in the moment. Nick develops a sense of respect for his honesty and good intentions. As their friendship grows, so does the secrets that haunt them as the consequences build.

Writers Baz Luhrman and Craig Pearce, create characters who are never satisfied. This unsatisfactory comes from the lack of self respect that causes them to become distant. This distant is the result of impulses and choices that the characters make ending in devastating consequences. Director Baz Luhrman, creates a vibrant atmosphere to match the liveliness of the characters. The vibrancy comes from the strong visuals of a wealthy high class lifestyle in contrast to a poor average lifestyle.

The Departed (2006) Movie Review

Staring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin

Written by: William Monahan

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

The Departed is a story that reflects the violence of street gangs. Billy (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), is an undercover cop in the process of taking down chief Frank Costello (played by Jack Nicholson). Colin Sullivan (played by Matt Damon), is a criminal working alongside Costello to earn his respect through solidarity. Both men begin to lead double lives in order to find the answers to stop Costello without risking their lives.

Writer William Monahan, creates characters who suffer from violent outbursts shown through panic. These outbursts are represented through the character’s loyalty and determination to get the job done. Director Martin Scorsese, creates an elaborate environment that represents the resolve of the characters. Through this resolve, they develop a sense of undertaking through their means of violent destruction.


The Aviator (2004) Movie Review

Staring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda

Written by: John Logan

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

The Avaitor tells the true story of Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), and his rises and falls through success. Hughes is a man who wants it all by means of control. He doesn’t like to be wrong and wants everything in his life to be orderly. When he meets the gorgeous and lively Katherine Hepburn (played by Cate Blanchett), his world begins to spin. Hepburn comes to his side with a load of media attention along with her bright personality causing Howard’s confidence to twitch. The fame eventually causes his personality to spiral down a dark destructive path.

Writer John Logan, creates this vibrant and exciting characters with a sense of an egotistical being that allows their personalities to function on their own time. These personalities cause a sense of disparagement between the characters because of their lack of self control. Director Martin Scorsese, creates a fanciful environment shown through visuals. These visuals show different colors that reflect the excitement and inner struggles of the characters.


Mark Wahlberg Actor Review

Mark Wahlberg is known for portraying witty yet heartfelt characters through intensity and respect. His characters often strive to impress or help with conflicted situations. Through this conflict, Wahlberg is able to take hold of an inner strength shown through a strong sense of responsibility and compassion. His compassion vibrates throughout the scene, compels the character to take action, and look towards resolving the issues that present themselves.

Leonardo DiCaprio Actor Review

Leonardo DiCaprio is known for playing characters who want to feel important and take unnecessary risks to find that importance. His characters battle with themselves between what is right and wrong. Through these decisions, the characters begin to develop great burdens within finding a sense of responsibility to make up for their faults.  This responsibility drives the characters to a point of insanity because of how badly they crave the respect. DiCaprio portrays these characters with such conviction, that he leaves the audience with a strong feeling of empathy and understanding.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) Movie Review

Staring: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davis, Matt Damon

Written by: Robert Rodat

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Saving Private Ryan tells the crippling story of the devastating effects of war. Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks), is a secretive man who becomes a sensitive leader to his army of troops during World War Two. After witnessing the heartbreaking and horrifying consequences of war, he leads his fellow soldiers to bring home Private James Ryan (played by Matt Damon).

Writer Robert Rodat, takes us into the lives of these soldiers by showing their fears and commitment to win the war. These fears are shown through homesickness and death which proves to overtake a sense of loyalty and determination the soldiers once had. Director Steven Spielberg, captures the intimate moments through the camera lens itself. Spielberg used specific sounds and visuals to relay an honest message of what War really looks and sounds like winning him the academy award for best director.

Milk (2008) Movie Review

Staring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, James Franco, Alison Pill

Written by: Dustin Lance Black

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Milk is the true story of American gay activist Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn), and his ongoing fight for freedom. Penn portrays Harvey Milk as a brave and confident man who feels broken and shattered on the inside because of the amount of hate and violence spreading throughout the LGBT community during the time period. Dan White (played by Josh Brolin) is an ignorant self centered man who strictly believes in love between a man and woman. His hatred only increases as Harvey tries to convince him to see the good. White’s judgment becomes surrounded by hate which ultimately ends in devastating consequences.

Writer Dustin Lance Black, brings to life the determination and compassion of good people who find themselves lost as they try to come to terms with their sexuality. These characters feel lost through the discrimination and doubt they feel everyday in regards to just trying to fit in. Director Gus Van Sant, creates an environment full of hope and future possibilities. This environment allows the characters to thrive off of one another through love and acceptance.

I Am Sam (2001) Movie Review

Staring: Sean Penn, Michelle Pfieffer, Dakota Fanning, Dianne Wiest, Richard Schiff, Laura Dern

Written by: Kristine Johnson, Jessie Nelson

Directed by: Jessie Nelson

I Am Sam tells the story of Sam Dawson (played by Sean Penn) a mentally handicapped father of a seven year old girl named Lucy (played by Dakota Fanning). Sam’s disability prevents him from having an impactful effect on Lucy’s life. This causes Lucy to feel confused and saddened as to why she doesn’t have a normal functioning family. She feels embarrassed and ashamed by the fact that she doesn’t want to appear smarter than him.

When the authorities get involved and threaten to take Lucy away, Rita Williams (played by Michelle Pfieffer) steps in as Sam’s pro bono lawyer. Rita is an impatient and insecure woman while Sam is simple, easy to please, and outgoing. Through their inability  to cooperate with each other because of their differences, Rita and Sam come to a balanced conclusion of figuring out what is best for Lucy.

Writers Kristine Johnson and Jessie Nelson, bring to life the personal and intimate struggles that mentally handicapped people face everyday. Through these struggles, the audience gets to see the characters come out of their shells as they evolve in the real world. Director Jessie Nelson, highlights the uncomfortable and sometimes awkward environment between people learning about each other through different opinions. These opinions create new perspectives allowing the characters to accept and embrace themselves for who they are.