Simple Tips on Writing a Research Paper About a Movie

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writing a movie research paper
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Cinema is a massive medium, money-maker, and all-round marvel.

The camera has granted us a way to communicate that’s unlike anything else in human history. Combined with the riotous pace of technological advancement, films really can make our wildest dreams come true.

Studying film is a calling for many students. While studying it can mean making films, it can also refer to unpacking, discussing, and debating the meanings of film on social or cultural levels. There is also an economic aspect to film which can present a different angle for writing about a movie.

For an essay writer, movies and films have a great pull because it implies that part of your work is watching one, if not multiple, films. That’s arguably the most fun you can have while preparing for an essay.

This guide will present simple tips, tricks, and ideas that can be used to write excellent research papers about movies as thought of by professional college essay writers.

It’s important for students to understand the process of writing a paper takes time. Many will delay the inevitable by procrastinating and then rush the paper shortly before the deadline. In order to avoid this furious writing frenzy, there are some steps which can and should be taken in the weeks before the paper is due.

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1)  Choose the topic

Research starts when you select a topic to write about. The topic is the broad subject area that you will investigate and analyse. With film, it is best to begin this process by considering several films that inspire you or motivate you. Perhaps this could be drawn from a particular era, genre, or the origin of film. 

The key purpose of any essay, especially that on a film, is to ensure you write on a topic that’s interesting to you. You can take this motivation and inherent knowledge to propel your essay to new heights, especially since essay writer online resources are plentiful. For example, Mubi has excellent lists of films based on themes, and there are the wonders of Wikipedia and IMDB for tracking down obscure film-makers and other film-workers.

2)  Decipher the issue

While the topic is broad, the issue is specific. At this stage you are focusing your attention. The importance of narrowing focus is that it keeps the topic, and therefore the paper, to manageable proportions. Generally essays run from 1,000 words up to 4,000 words. Unless you’re writing a dissertation or final thesis in which a microscope can be applied to all aspects of the issue given that the word count is so large.

Avoid broadness when factoring the issue at hand. Do not attempt a complete world history of film-making. Consider your essay one volume of many that you will write, building up your corpus slowly like this is better for everyone involved. It means each discrete part of the subject as a whole receives some individual attention.

While there are excellent books and texts on singular movies, most essays will draw on two or three at most. The issue that you’ve defined is important in selecting the films you will use.

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3)  State a research question

A research question sets the tone and compass for the paper. The task of essay writing is to grow and nurture an answer to this question. You will demonstrate your thesis in answer to the question that you have posed. 

It is a critical stage – defining the research question – because it helps to set an overall tone of the paper and delineates the scope. While essays do contain different styles of writing, such as descriptive, narrative, and biography, the core task of an essay is to analyse and interrogate the problem as you have defined it. 

Devising a hypothesis or hypotheses takes time; it can bud into life at any stage of the research process. Though it should be based on your reading and your interpretation. That is to say, not simply on a random hunch. Of course, hunches become much more sound the more you know about a subject, so don’t discard those hunches out of hand. Flip them over and look at them in detail before accepting them as facts.

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4)  Keep track of your sources

Every essay needs a bibliography. Whether you publish it or not, whether it is a requirement or not, keep track of your sources. You never know when they’re going to come in useful again. However, for almost all essays you write in education, unless they’re a first person reflective piece, you will need citations and sources to back up what you’re saying. What that means is that you’ll need to keep diatribes and polemics for your personal writing projects. Instead, be methodical, keep a separate document with all your sources and their attendant notes in. If you’re feeling fancy, you could even use a proper referencing tool like Evernote to stash them away.

Another aspect of citing in essays that students sometimes overlook – cite as you write. Don’t leave it to the end to add in all those sources. Add the footnotes or use the brackets if you’re doing Harvard referencing. Keep on top of citing as you’re writing to avoid difficulties once you’ve finished your essay.

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5)  Create an outline of your paper

Developing the structure of an essay while you’re also researching the topic is very helpful. You’ll sit down to write with some strong points of references already in place. It’s nice to see the word count above zero before you have even begun. 

A working outline is not the finished article though. It’s a preliminary list of the main aspects that you have anticipated will be crucial to your overall essay. The outline doesn’t rely so heavily on a linear, straightforward structure but on a fluid and nonlinear assemblage of ideas based on the research and the research question.

The points you make in the outline will be pieces to use at a later date. With some finessing, they may make it into the final piece, just not in the order they were written or at the initial level of exposition and analysis. 

6)  Sort your information

Hopefully, you’ve assembled a heck of a lot of information that will be useful in answering your research question. The thing is, the information will be unsorted and cluttered. Take the time to mull over the information you’ve sourced and put it into an order that will make it easy to search through and to draw from. 

Do this task within the bounds of the working outline. The latter  gives you space to collect pieces of knowledge, classify them around a theme, and then bank them. If the knowledge is interesting but doesn’t fit into the outline – throw it away. Or save it somewhere else. 

7)  Plan you paper substance 

If all that sounded like a plan, then hold onto your hats, because now is the time to actually plan. The outline is non-linear, it doesn’t qualify as a proper essay. Now you need to work in tandem with your working outline and your knowledge of essay structures to slot the information into place.

One word of warning: don’t straight copy and paste from your outline into your essay. This patchwork method won’t read smoothly. A solid essay has a clear structure, taking the reader from point A to point B. The plan is the realisation of these points. For instance, a plan could look like this; an introduction, a main section (containing anywhere from one to five main arguments) and then a conclusion. Each main argument may also contain sub-sections. But the overall flow should build the argument linearly, logically, and soundly.

8)  The rough draft

Filling in the plan counts as a rough draft. Getting down to the act of writing itself and working with the research and the outline will yield something that looks like an essay, but isn’t quite the final product. 

If you’ve researched correctly, you’re going to have more information and research than you can fit into the word limit. As such, you should overwrite and go hard. But then in the next stage you pare it back and cull parts that are surplus to requirements. Resist the temptation to leave a few sentences finely polished. Save it for the next step.

9)  The final copy

This is the point where you take all the work you’ve done so far, and make it shine. All the time students will submit what is essentially a rough draft of a paper. They need to go back, respect the reader, and make their essay work properly. Proofread, use Grammarly, use your roommates. Get someone to read over it and gauge their reaction. 

At this point you can start looking at design, making sure you conform to style guidelines and any other specifics you have to tick off.

Ultimately the question of how to become a better essay writer is all down to preparation. Preparation for a film essay makes the work easier and will result in a better grade. By following these steps you can be assured to receive the best mark you can get. 

Robert Malcolm

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