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Articles focused on the intersection of creativity and technology.

  • Writer's pictureMarcelo Lewin

Citizen Kane Final Paper

Transitioning to Filmmaking Day 3: Final Paper: Citizen Kane

Today I spent most of the day finishing my final paper for the class, Language of Filmmaking, part of the UCLA Extension Filmmaking Program curriculum I'm enrolled in. The final essay (along with it being our final session as well) is due this Thursday, September 7, 2023, but I wanted to get it in a bit earlier since I have to also work on my final project (which I will write about in my next journal entry) for my Intro to Adobe Premiere editing class, also part of the UCLA Extension program, where I have to cut an action scene.

Over the past 12 weeks, we have been learning the "language of filmmaking" in this class covering hundreds of terms and studying them by watching various films. Each week had a theme.

  • Week 1 - General introduction including the stages of film, above the line vs. below the line, the different film eras and some film history.

  • Week 2 - Terms related to story such as screenwriting, plot, story, teme, etc.

  • Week 3 - All about images including cinematography, light path, digital video capture, transition to film, etc.

  • Week 4 - Mise-En-Scene including production value, production design, atmosphere, sets, location scouting, etc.

  • Week 5 - Controlling the frame including directing, cinema verite, setups and takes, blocking, storyboarding, etc.

  • Week 6 - Picture editing including montage sequence, stages of editing, the Kuleshov effect, matching on action, match cuts, etc.

  • Week 7 - Sound including sound mixing, microphones, stages of mixing, ambient sound, room tone, ADR, etc.

  • Week 8 - Visual Effects including practical effects, digital effects, optical effects, makeup effects, projection, miniatures, etc.

  • Week 9 - Time and Space including temporal distortion, frame rates, linear storytelling, nonlinear storytelling, framing devices, etc.

  • Week 10 - Voice including social commentary films, representation, directorial style, genre expectations (and defying them), etc.

We also had to watch a film every week, analyzing the films with the new terminology we learned that week. The films we watch included The Hunger Games, Jaws, Parasite, Zero Dark Thirty, Apocalypse Now, Titanic, Citizen Kane and Do the Right Thing.

For the final paper, we had to pick a movie we watched and write between a 1500 to 2000 word essay using at least one of the terms we learned per week, which meant we had to include at least 10 terms in our analysis of the movie.

I enjoyed every movie, but the one that impressed me the most was Citizen Kane. It's definitely a must see if you have not watched it. And if you have watched it, it's definitely a good rewatch.

Watching Citizen Kane multiple times, analyzing and dissecting many of its scenes, as part of my research for this paper, truly gave me a greater appreciation for Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, and for his cinematographer, Gregg Toland. What they created, with the limited technology they had, was nothing short of a miracle. This research also provided me with a new profound love and appreciation for cinema as a whole and its history.

The movies we enjoy today are truly built on the shoulders of giants such as Orson Welles and Gregg Toland. I can truly understand why this movie is one of the most studied films in history.

Other things I worked on

Until the next entry!

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