As the 92nd Oscars Ceremony known as the Academy Awards recently drew near, Keiser University Cinematic Arts Program Film Instructor Samantha Kountz shared that most triumphant movies possess at least one, and often more, of the ingredients below.
- A well-paced first act: Studios could benefit from placing additional emphasis on how their films are enticing audiences to buy-in. The first act is so important, as it relays what the audience should care about, and builds the universe in which the characters exist. It tells who to love and who to hate, etc. Like anything else, if a film doesn’t have a solid foundation, it won’t compel audiences or awards societies.
- A brave plot full of strangers can warrant consideration: Yes, the Joker, Jimmy Hoffa, and a couple of Popes have managed to snag some prestigious nominations, but the films that people talk about the most are the ones with original characters and original stories. Nowadays, this is a brave and risky approach to cinematic storytelling, but with conversations centered around Parasite, Pain and Glory, and Jojo Rabbit that dared to be Oscar-worthy genre films, chaotic autobios, and a fantasized Nazi Germany respectively speaks to how an original approach will pay off in the long run.
- Fun films pay-off: Yes, the Oscars Awards Ceremony is famous for doling out those ‘gold boys’ to drama after drama after drama but again, the films that have the biggest payoffs in awards season AND audience reception are the ones that either don’t take themselves too seriously or offer audiences a light at the end of the tunnel. Parasite is horrifying, but it has both its fun visual and narrative moments; Jojo Rabbit is absurdly ridiculous, but adorable; Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood dares to both parody and honor the Action Renaissance of the 70s. Ultimately, the difference between these films and beautiful downers like Joker or A Marriage Story is that the former films do something about how harsh reality can be; the latter films simply wallow in it, something that can be seen as a cinematic “easy way out.”
Kountz also shared details of the Cinematic Arts Program with WPBF viewers. To view the ABC television segment, please visit here.
As a child growing up in Boynton Beach, Florida, Kountz became fascinated with film as she enjoyed animated musicals and old horror movies along with her parents. “I was not only intrigued by what film could do and be, but I also became fascinated with how the medium came about. When DVDs then appeared on the scene with special features that provided behind-the-scene looks into our favorite movies, my interests increased ten-fold,” said Kountz.
Kountz now feels fortunate to work in the field while serving as the Keiser University College of Cinematic Arts Film History professor and a G-Star Digital Video Production and Film teacher. The partnership between Keiser and G-Star School of the Arts and Motion Picture Studios provides students with valuable opportunities for hands-on experience and training in feature film production, commercials, music videos and documentaries. While incorporating business principles, as well as more advanced coursework and a strong general education program, the curriculum’s interdisciplinary approach enables student to demonstrate their artistic expertise and application of business knowledge to enhance their career opportunities. Future filmmakers will be prepared to appreciate and apply cinematic arts skills and concepts, effectively communicate information using appropriate technologies, understand fundamentals of screenwriting, storytelling, structure, tension, suspense and more.
“Movies have always been a tool I’ve used to connect with family and friends, while also learning more about human nature and our world. As a burgeoning film historian, I’m excited by how we can all examine the medium and its influences, good or ill, as a relic of world culture of the past, in the present, and how we can begin to look at motion pictures in the future,” reflected Kountz whose educational journey in film began at G-Star School of the Arts after falling in love with its small class sizes, rustic charm, and concentration in film studies thanks to a tour led by founder Gregory Hauptner.
The Keiser University Introduction to film class examines the core elements of film history which include changes in technology, changes in censorship, changes in business practices, and the social and political influences of film narratives and genres. “It’s a very exciting pot to stir because it requires much more than memorization. Film History requires critical thinking as well as reflective thinking in terms of making direct connections between then and now. My favorite ‘light bulb’ moments are when students relay that they cannot watch movies the same way anymore,” smiled Kountz, who earned her bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Studies and her master’s degree in Film Studies from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.
G-Star School of the Arts is a not-for-profit, public, charter high school that provides an exceptional, unified culture for all students to thrive academically and creatively, through respect, acceptance, self-discipline, and elevated thinking. Our Film, Theater, and Digital Media programs have been created and are being taught by passionate professionals from throughout the entertainment industry. Our working production facilities provide project-based learning on actual professional productions, and our International Baccalaureate Program provides an academic foundation that is recognized around the world. We are also home to the X-Scream Halloween, one of the largest Halloween events in Florida (including the single largest Haunted House in Florida) which is built and run entirely by our students.