Using Short Films to Analyze Story


Using Short Films to Analyze Story

Using Short Films to Analyze Story


I believe I've mentioned before that during the pandemic I got in the habit of tuning in on Wednesday nights to a Facebook Live group called Friends and Fiction. During the hour long show, the four author/hosts interview other authors. They have a recurring question I like so much that I've adapted it into my teaching. They ask each visiting author to tell what their book is about and then to tell what it's really about.

As a teacher, I've realized that question is a powerful tool for getting students to explore the difference between plot and theme.

I also like to teach using Pixar shorts. These short films have so much depth and tell incredible stories in a very short amount of time.

Today, as I was combining the two, I was thinking of how these would be good practices for us to engage in as writers.

Let's take this film for example.

It's really cute, so feel free to go watch. Then we'll discuss.

So what is it about?

Spoiler alert - A father and grandfather whose job is to create the phases of the moon take a young boy on his first trip to the moon. There is conflict between the father and grandfather who each want the boy to do things their way. But when a large star lands on the moon, it's the young boy who is able to solve the problem.

So what's it really about? - Finding your identity. Being true to your own self.  

You probably know from my past posts that I love to deconstruct stories to figure out how they work.  

These shorts are whole stories in under ten minutes. They're great to use with students because they give a fun visual explanation of elements of story structure. It's easy to construct a plot chart after watching a short movie. To answer that, we have to analyze the characters. It's amazing how well developed they are with no dialogue at all.

I've included two more of my favorites. I thought it might be fun to analyze why they work.

Who would like to join in? What enables these short films to capture and hold our attention?

PS - There are also some notably bad shorts (bad as in boring). I'm trying to be upbeat, so I won't link the ones with sagging middles because it's kind of bad to have a sagging middle in such a short film. Still, we can learn from analyzing the good as well as the bad.


3 Comments on Seekerville: The Journey Continues: Using Short Films to Analyze Story

  • Anonymous
    on September 28, 2022 | 13:16 Anonymoussaid :
    "Those short videos certainly pack an emotional punch! I'm such a sap to begin with, so it was mega easy to rip my heart out with the pinata and the pup!!

    Take-away for the pinata story includes needing to trust others. The boy thought he needed to hide his new friend. His father saw the relationship between the boy and the pinata, and though the boy thought his pinata would be shipped away if discovered, instead, his pinata friend found his forever home - boy learned his father had a heart.

    Pip, the big hearted pup, was too small for the academy, but a kindhearted worker gave him a chance. Though Pip failed so many times, it was the one time when success was the most important, Pip came through (because of his size!). Take-away includes it doesn't matter the size of the hero, it's the desire within that makes them succeed.

    Great shorts, Cate! Thanks for the fun break in my day!
    Audra, the anonymous "
  • Sandy Smith
    on September 28, 2022 | 16:26 Sandy Smithsaid :
    "Cate, I can see how these would be great to use with students in a class. I loved the one with the puppy. I'm sure the students do, too. It is interesting how much a short video with no dialogue can convey so much. Thanks for sharing."
  • Gail @
    on September 29, 2022 | 00:04 Gail @ http://biblelovenotes.comsaid :
    "This comment has been removed by the author."
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