Preparing for writing a film review: Sound in films

I’ve been working with a class in preparation for writing a film review. What will follow is a series of posts with PowerPoints focusing on developing skills needed to write a film review.

The first one is a lesson on the use of sound in films:


I began by asking students to mind map ideas about sound in films – could they think of any memorable sounds (think Darth Vader’s breathing)? How important did they think sound was in films? Could they categorize what sounds were used in films? This led on to a discussion about sound in films and the 3 soundtrack elements: dialogue, sound effects and music.


I played the audio of the short film ‘Double Take’ by director Toa Stappard. At 4 minutes it’s perfect for this kind of activity and, interestingly, there’s no music or dialogue. When it was first played, students were asked to just write down any sounds they could hear e.g. a zip being closed/opened. They then discussed what they could hear with a partner and what these sounds made them think of. With this short film, be prepared for some interesting responses… Based on this discussion, students had to come up with their own storyline to match the sounds they could hear. Finally, we watched the film and compared their versions with what was in the film.


I asked studnets to think about/discuss how important sound is in films and then list 3 things they’d learnt about sound in films from the lesson.

For a bit of fun – and to illustrate the effect of sound – I showed them the Youtube clip of ‘Mary Poppins’ set to horror music. There’s a link to this in the PowerPoint.

You can find ‘Double Take’ and other short films on the EMC DVD ‘Double take and other films: moving image study 11-16’.

Sound in Films


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