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Lights, Camera, Action! Film History for High School Part 1 (1800-1950)

In this ten-week course, students will learn about the earliest years of film development, exploring early film technologies, methods of storytelling, and famous filmmakers from the inception of film through World War II! #creative
Molly McGill, M.A.
810 total reviews for this teacher
7 reviews for this class
Completed by 19 learners
year old learners
US Grade Level
learners per class


Charged upfront
$16 per class
Meets 1x per week
Over 10 weeks
50 minutes per class

Available times

Table of available sections


Class Experience

Upon completing this course, students will understand the following:
--key technologies in early film
--storytelling devices of early film
--how film echoes what is occurring in a specific time period
--basics of film analysis
--key players in early film
I have my MA in Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder where I focused on animation and its interactions with art history for my master's thesis. I have taught lectures from this course at the collegiate level for undergraduate students.  I offer a very different perspective on the development of film and animation through the lens of art and art history. 
Each week, students will have a few short pieces (film or reading--roughly 20 minutes of content) to review for homework and a discussion in the Outschool classroom related to the week's session. Students will also have two longer writing assignments--one bibliographic exploration of an early filmmaker and a film review of a film related to what we have covered in class. Students will be required to watch this film on their own time. 
Learners will be provided with a list of films for their film review project that they may choose from. These films will need to be acquired by the learner individually. Most of them are available via streaming services or to rent from Amazon for a few dollars. List will be provided early in the course so there is time to prepare for this.
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
Formal grades are available upon request
50 minutes per week in class, and an estimated 1 - 2 hours per week outside of class.
Students will look at films that may contain violent, horror, or adult language themes. Students will also briefly discuss The Birth of a Nation and what makes it so problematic and controversial, but no clips will be shown. A discussion of Gone With the Wind will be prevalent in Week 8. Students will be warned about this content before it is shown in class so they may step away if they like. Students will discuss World War II and the Nazis in weeks 5 and 9. 
Sources for the class include critical literature on film history, film museums, and information from graduate-level courses on film. Major film theory sources include the Critical Visions in Film Theory anthology, which references works by Arnheim, Eisenstein, Bazin, and other early, prominent film theorists, which will be crucial for our understanding of early cinema, especially silent film. Griselda Pollock and Laura Mulvey's feminist film theory will also appear in our lectures. Sources on German and Japanese films will come from German and Japanese cinema societies and museums. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Museum of the Moving Image, the Smithsonian Society, and other museums will also be used for information. The films themselves will play a great deal into the information and histories of the films are pulled from the museum sites, DVD extras, and more.


Molly McGill, M.A.
Lives in the United States
College Professor, Art Historian, Writing Coach, Animation Historian, Disney Expert
810 total reviews
818 completed classes

About Me

Hello Outschool families! My name is Molly McGill and I am so excited to be teaching on the Outschool platform and sharing what I love with students from all over the world. I earned my Masters in art history from the University of Colorado, where... 
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