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Silent Film Acting Movement Unit

Lesson 3: Project & Plot Structure

Education Objective:

Students will demonstrate their knowledge of plot structure by analyzing the plot structure of a short film clip and by creating their own plot structure for their silent film.

Materials Needed:

- Youtube clip - Pixar Short Paperman

- The Eagle, The Cat & The Wild Sow Fable (three copies, cut into strips) - Fable
- Brainstorm for Silent Film Worksheet (one for each student) - Brainstorm Sheet for Silent Film


As students come into class give them each a slip of paper that contains a section of a story. If there are more students than slips then have students partner up. Inform students that they must work together to put the story together in order.
Have three groups going… whichever finishes fastest (and correctly) wins!


Once students have completed the story, ask them how they did it. How did you know what or-der to go in? Why is the order of a story important?


Ask students to get their journals. As they do so, draw the dramatic structure triangle on the board. For their journal entries today, ask them to fill it out. (this should take two minutes, if that).


Introduce students to the term Dramatic Structure (most (if not all) may be familiar with this from their English classes, but you may need to clarify that in drama, you want them to call it a de-nouement and an inciting event).
Have students come up and label the different parts of the dramatic structure triangle.

EXPOSITION – Background information (Who, what, when, where, why; normal life)
INCITING INCIDENT – An action that sets the conflict in action (normal life changes)
RISING ACTION – The story thickens and obstacles arise
CLIMAX – Highest point of the play (most emotional, the choice, etc.)
FALLING ACTION – Everything that happens leading up to…
DENOUEMENT — The untying of the knot or resolution.

Show the film clip from PIXAR. While they are watching, have the students write down when each of the six elements of dramatic structure occur.


Talk with the class about the events of the clip. What was the dramatic structure or storyline? Did the plot follow the dramatic structure correctly? Have them define the exact moments of each element (What are some exposition points that created a background for the characters and story? What happened to change normal life? What obstacles were tossed in the way? What was the climax? What could have happened? How did the story resolve itself – or did it really resolve completely? Etc.).


Divide the class into six different groups for “One Minute Fairytale.” Have the class, together, pick a fairytale that they will be performing. Each group will focus on one of the parts of the dramatic structure (group 1 = exposition, group 2 = inciting event, group 3 = rising action, group 4 = climax, group 5 = falling action, and group 6 = denouement). They will have five minutes to decide what part of the story fits their part of the structure, how they will be performing it, and to rehearse. Each performance should only be a minute (hence the name).


Briefly, and in as little detail as possible, explain that the students are going to be creating mov-ies. Tell them that they don’t know their groups yet, but they will need to create a pitch (a movie idea) that they will present to their groups once I have assigned them.
They need to keep the dramatic structure in mind, making sure that their story idea for their movie has all of the plot points.
They also need to make sure their film ideas have 4-5 characters.

Take the rest of the time to fill out the “Brainstorm for Silent Film” worksheet. Help them with this process. Explain that these are due next class.


Students will be assessed on their participation, their journals, and on how well they fill out their “Brainstorm for Silent Film” worksheet.