Mediacinema METHOD

Teaching Method

Alex's film classes focus on film history, theory, narratology, and film language and include a wide selection of clips from films, excerpts from scores, screenplays, interviews, behind-the-scene footage, and other digitalized material organized in a series of multimedia presentations. Recurring classes such as The Language of Filmmaking and Visual and Narrative Strategies for Filmmakers are constantly updated with clips from new films and TV series.
The examples used in these lessons are grouped by narrative or cinematic techniques (mise-en-scène, lighting, camera movements, editing, sound, subjectivity, direct and indirect narration, etc.). They range from classics (Orson Welles's Touch of Evil) to contemporary movies (Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence), they include foreign films (Patrice Leconte's Girl on the Bridge, Julio Medem's Lovers of the Arctic Circle), TV series (Pushing Daisies, Lie To Me, Life on Mars), experimental films, commercials, and music videos.
Students attending the courses on site benefit from presentations projected onto a big screen and live interaction with the instructor. Students attending the classes online can access clips and other material in the form of a website, and they can interact with the instructor via discussion boards.
The final goal of these courses is to provide a clear and insightful understanding about the filmmaking process, as well as an enhanced enjoyment of film viewing.
This class is the next best thing to taking lessons from the masters themselves!
Nancy Hendrickson, Creative Screenwriting, April 2008.

Click here to read an article by Beverly Olevin on Alex's International Cinema Series.
Click here to read an article by Nancy Hendrickson on Alex's class The Language of Filmmaking, published on Creative Screenwriting, April 2008.
This is definitely the most organized, well designed and intellectually stimulating film class I have ever taken. Pirolini's course builds up from the fundamentals of the technical nature and history of film to the nuances of film theory. A great deal of information is easily learned in a short time because the multimedia examples are always clear and interesting. In short, this course is fun, intellectually stimulating and will change the way you view cinema.
Etan Ilfeld, student

If the pov shot translates the literary technique of first person narration in cinematic terms, the camera look can be considered as the equivalent of the “You” form, as it represents a direct interpellation of the spectator. When characters look straight into the camera (often even talking to it), they are basically addressing their audience.
Since the result is similar to the act of breaking the fourth wall in theatre, the camera look is a rare device in classic and mainstream cinema, as it represents an explicit violation of the classic principle of invisibility of storytelling.
In a previous lecture we saw that the camera look was systematically adopted by the Nouvelle Vague (Godard in particular), in order to promote the viewers' linguistic awareness in a provocative way. We saw a typical example of this practice in a clip from Pierrot le fou (1965, Jean-Luc Godard).
Camera looks can also be found in classical cinema, mostly limited to musicals (especially during song numbers or dance sequences) or slapstick comedies, where the actors are famous screen personas such as Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, or Laurel and Hardy, playing the same characters from film to film. Think of Laurel and Hardy, for example, always gazing into the camera after a disaster as if they were asking the audience for their understanding.

Singin' in the Rain (1952, Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly)

Beside these exceptions, it is almost impossible to find a classical Hollywood drama or a period movie where the characters look into the camera and talk to the spectators. That is also why classic cinema created the so called "over-the-shoulder shot" in scenes where two characters talk to each other--a device that is still widely employed.

O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000, Joel and Ethan Coen)

Without such device, the subjective shot would result in a camera look, like the following example from A Clockwork Orange (1971), where director Stanley Kubrick uses the technique to force the audience to identify with the main character.
What is interesting, in this sequence, is the fact that the shots portraying Alex are neither pov shots nor camera looks. The camera, in fact, is clearly above the inspector's head, and the result is obviously less disturbing than the identification with Alex, which instead is obtained through a combination of pov shots, camera looks, and wide angle lenses.

Several directors have played with the implications of camera looks and pov shots. Wim Wenders, for example, used the pov shot/camera look combination in Wings of Desire (1987), to turn dialogue between two characters into a call upon the spectators to take charge of their own lives.
Nights of Cabiria (1957, Federico Fellini) ends on a quick, almost imperceptible, camera look of the main character nodding at the spectators, in recognition for their support and compassion.
Contemporary sit-coms that imitate the look and feel of reality shows employ such device in order to create a bond between a character and the viewer. As a result, the camera look suggests that the character is winking at the spectator and places the two of them above the other characters involved in the scene.

Parks and Recreations (2012, Season 4 Episode 18)