Focus workshops

Tony Watkins is available to lead workshops and seminars on the subject matter of Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema. He has been leading similar sessions for over ten years with a wide variety of groups – churches, Christian organisations and CUs, as well as regularly teaching much of the material in an academic context.

These workshops and seminars are stimulating, engaging, practical and fun. As structured, interactive learning experiences they generally include elements of Bible study, teaching, group discussions, individual reflection, and plenty of opportunity to engage with examples from a range of films.

There are three basic options on offer, depending on the length of time available, but each of these can be adjusted to suit particular circumstances. See below.

Option 1: Whole day workshop

Session 1 (10.00-11.00): What Lies Beneath: thinking about films at a worldview level

Film is a hugely significant medium in today’s world. It is increasingly important for our ability to relate to a media-dominated culture that we learn to understand the messages which films communicate and how we can engage with them. In this session we will look at why we should engaging with films at a worldview level, and then reflect on some principles for using films. We will briefly consider a framework for understanding worldviews and explore four aspects of worldview analysis.

  • Biblical basis for engaging with culture
  • Why engage with films at a worldview level
  • Principles for using films
  • A framework for understanding worldview
  • Four aspects of worldview analysis: analyse, evaluate, celebrate, challenge

Session 2 (11.30-12.30): Five aspects of films and how they communicate meaning

Film-makers put a great deal of effort into their work, so we will be rewarded for paying closer attention to what we see and hear. We discover deeper levels of meaning and understand more fully what the film-makers wanted to communicate – as well as what they communicate unwittingly. In this session we will examine the elements of films which combine to create meaning.

  • Mise-en-scène
  • Editing (montage)
  • Dialogue
  • Actor’s performances
  • Soundtrack

Session 3 (13.30-14.30): How films tell stories – the narrative structure of films

Films are, in general, primarily a medium for telling a story. Human beings have always told stories as part of the process of making sense of our history. Stories make connections between past and present, and suggest what the future might hold. In this session we will consider how films tell stories and explore how various features of the narrative communicate the film’s message.

  • Cause and effect
  • Fictional realities
  • Protagonists and goals
  • Motivation
  • Change and resolution

Session 4 (15.00-16.00): Films and the meaning of life

Every film touches on big questions to some degree, examining issues of identity, morality, power, religion or sexuality, or exploring the nature of happiness, freedom, love, fulfilment or spirituality. In this final session we explore various ways in which we need to respond to films and how we can help others in their response. We will reflect on ways in which films offer answers to our deepest longings, and suggest that in doing so they offer us glimpses into the deepest longing of all – the yearning for shalom.

  • The deepest longings of the human heart
  • Responding personally to films
  • Levels of response (Aesthetic; Emotional; Ethical; Spiritual; Worldview)
  • Helping others to respond – Christians and non-Christians

Option 2: Shorter whole-day workshop

Session 1 (10.30-11.30): What Lies Beneath: thinking about films at a worldview level
See Session 1 above.

Session 2 (12.00-13.00): Six aspects of films and how they communicate meaning
A condensed version of sessions 2 and 3 above.


Session 3 (14.00-15.00): Films and the meaning of life

See Session 3 above.

Option 3: Half-day workshop

Session 1 (10.00-10.45): Why we should learn to think about films
A shorter version of session 1 for the whole day workshop, above
Session 2 (11.00-11.45): How films tell stories
A shorter version of session 2 for the whole day workshop, above
Session 3 (12.00-13.00): Films and the meaning of life
A shorter version of session 3 for the whole day workshop, above

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