Part of the IB Diploma subject group 6, the arts, Film SL develops students’ skills so that they become adept in interpreting and making film texts.

Through the analysis of film texts and exercises in film-making, the course explores film history, theory and socio-economic background. It also develops students’ critical abilities, enabling them to appreciate the variety of cultural and historical perspectives in film.

What is different in taking Film SL online?

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • choose an art class that may not be offered at their school
  • study alongside students from around the world
  • exchange ideas with people from very different backgrounds
  • use technology much more than in a face-to-face environment, especially in their communication tools
  • add flexibility to their timetable


Topics covered through the course

These can be split into three categories:

Textual analysis
Topics include the language of Film, mise-en-scene, costume, music, cinematography, lighting and camera movement. These are studies in the context of the prescribed film for the Film SL course. These films include Psycho, Breathless, The 400 Blows, Ikiru, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Blade Runner, Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men and Metropolis.

Film history and theory
Topics include early cinema, German expressionism, musicals of the 30s and 40s, Italian neo-realism, film noir, French new wave, Japanese cinema, Mexican cinema, gender theory, auteur theory, Marxist cinema, and psychoanalytical film theory.

Film production
There are several practical production projects. These short films (1-2 minutes) usually focus on a particular area of the creative process, such as lighting, editing, how to film a dinner table conversation, diegetic and Foley sound, and the visual interpretation of a poem.

Activities and assessment

Every activity has its own assessment rubric. Students may create a one-minute video without dialogue that includes at least two characters and a dinner table; create a Twilight Zone film where a character transitions between different places and time periods that are unconnected in reality; recreate a scene from a favourite film; film the same location twice (the second time light and design the location to recreate a place typical of a chosen genre of film); record an analysis of how film language creates meaning in a five-minute extract from a film; create a storyboard; or create a map showing camera placement, lighting, and actor movement in a scene.

Advice from our teachers

In order to succeed, we recommend students set aside five to six hours a week.
Students will need a video camera or DSLR that has manual focus, a sturdy tripod and editing software such as iMovie, Final Cut or Premiere, as basic requirements. A lighting kit and recording device (handheld or microphone) would be excellent additions.

Benefits to students

Taking Film SL online will enable students to:

  • enhance their passion for the subject
  • deepen their understanding of the how and why of filmmaking
  • develop intercultural understanding which is sought by the world’s top universities
  • develop 21st century skills like time management, communication and digital literacy which are much in demand by employers