While getting my BA I took a decent amount of film classes. Between film, television, and video studies I took eight classes that focused on the history of or making of the electronic visual medium(s).
I used to be quite the amateur, wannabe, cynical critic of movies. I assumed that knowing the history, terminology, etc would make me an even sharper critic since I would have actual knowledge to go with my sarcasm and self-proclaimed high level of taste. Instead the opposite happened.
Learning about the visual art of film making from misé en scene, cinematography, editing, set design, rule of thirds, set design, and the history of film from Edison and the Lumiere Brothers to the first talkies to the second golden age of American film in the 1970s gave me a true appreciation for almost all films and major motion pictures, even the bad ones. I really grew to appreciate the effort that goes into making a movie/television show.
That doesn’t mean that I confuse shit for steak, but I often see the good in the bad films, and rather than spend time, effort, energy, and emotion throwing shade at a lackluster film, I just follow the “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” paradigm.
I was and still am completely blown away by how much goes into making a movie. Even bad movies, even Michael Bay movies.
I thought studying film would turn me into a film snob who only liked avant-garde, black and white, indie flicks.
Instead my taste in film didn’t really change at all. In fact, the blockbuster movies I tend to see in movie theaters, I came to enjoy even more. Why? Because film is a visual medium. Big budget blockbusters are basically 100% tailored to be visual stimulation. Heaven knows most of them aren’t going to pull on the emotional strings based on their script(s). When I learned that nothing that appears on-screen of a film’s final cut is an accident, my appreciation and fandom grew.
My educated eyes allowed me to be more easily sucked into James Bond and comic book blockbuster movies, rather than more skeptical of them.
What I really learned in studying the history and processes of film, television, video production, directing, editing, cinematography, script writing and acting besides the terminology is an appreciation of each. That is why when I read cynical reviews online and in print all I see is bitter, childish, ego centered pouting by a failed artist/creator who now judges others. It’s why all of the film reviews I’ve posted on this blog have been pretty positive even though I have seen and written about some pretty underwhelming films.
I encourage anyone reading this to take a film history or art of film and video class. It will literally change the way you see what you see when you look at a screen, and that is a good thing.