Topic: Exploring the cinematic journey of Al Pacino.

Home » Topic: Exploring the cinematic journey of Al Pacino.


Explore the contributions of a specific artist to film. This is not a biography of the artist The “artist” does not have to be an actor/actress. You could look at the contributions of a specific director, screenwriter, set designer, make-up artist, etc.

Research Essay Guidelines
Now that you have had a chance to learn about the birth of film and some of its major genres, you may have discovered an area of specific interest about which you would like to know more. The final research essay is your opportunity to explore a topic on your own.

Basic Requirements

Length and Number of Sources: The essay should be 6-7 pages, not counting the Works Cited page, using a minimum of five credible outside sources.

Sources: You will need to use at least one book (e-books are acceptable for this requirement), one scholarly journal, one magazine or newspaper article, and any other two sources. Why do I require this breakdown of sources? It is to ensure that you do more than just “surf” the web for the first five sources you find AND to make sure that you become familiar with all of the material that is out there.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you search the Yocum Library’s online catalog for possible books and take a trip in to the library to look at what is probably one of the largest collections of film-related books in the county.

I require the use of at least one scholarly journal because this is an academic essay and you should be familiar with what is being said about film by those who study it for a living. Project Muse is a good source of material about films, but any of the general databases will also provide a wealth of information.

Do not use film reviews or other comments posted by someone on blogs or on their own web site. Commercial sites for film production companies, actors, directors or anyone involved with the film should also be suspect. Remember, they are trying to “sell” the film to viewers and their material may be biased. There are some instances when the material found on these commercial sites might be helpful. For example, if the site includes material from another credible source, and you want to include it in your essay, you should find the original source and cite that—not the commercial site.

DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA! However, you may find a list of sources at the end of a Wikipedia entry about your topic and those sources (often hyperlinks) may be credible.

Do not use sites such as,,, or any general encyclopedia, whether in print or online. However, you may use topic specific encyclopedias, such as The Film Encyclopedia.

Format: Your essay should be in MLA format, including a Works Cited page and appropriately formatted in-text citations. If you are not familiar with MLA or need a refresher, you can find the information in any handbook or web site that includes the 2009 update of MLA. A link to the information at Purdue University’s Online Writing Center (OWL) is available on the Yocum Library web site.

Choosing Your Topic/Developing Your Thesis Statement

Step 1: Determine the topic of your research essay. (Example: Horror films)

Step 2: Determine what specific aspect of the topic you plan to research and write about. (Example: Effects of the graphic scenes on viewers)

Step 3: Conduct initial research to make sure that you will be able to find enough information to support your thesis. You will also use this initial research to help you develop your thesis statement. Remember, you must use five credible outside sources. They should be more scholarly in nature. While you conduct this initial research, I recommend that you save any sources you might be considering for your essay. It will save you time, and it may save you from the “headache” of not being able to find the source again when you try to locate it after your thesis has been approved.

Step 4: Develop your thesis statement. Remember, the thesis statement should let the reader know what your topic is AND the direction you will be taking the topic. (Example: Because modern cinematic techniques have allowed filmmakers to get more graphic, horror flicks have desensitized young American viewers to violence.)

Step 5: Submit your thesis statement to the drop box located in just below these Guidelines. Your topic MUST be approved by me and you should get that approval prior to doing more than a quick search for sources as described above.

Other Tips for Writing a Successful Film Research Essay

Assume that your readers have seen the film. Therefore, do not simply summarize the plot of the film. Essays that provide only a summary of the film, or contain up to 50% summary material, will receive a grade no higher than a D. However, you may need to summarize part of a film, for example, a specific scene, in order to support your thesis. Incorporate that summary into the point you are trying to make.
The titles of films should be italicized.
Any films mentioned in your essay should be included in your Works Cited.
Do not use the names of actors and actresses who portray characters when you are actually talking about the characters. Use the characters’ names.
The first time you use anyone’s name, mention the full name. In subsequent mentions, use only the last name.
Be sure to follow the standard essay format: an introduction with background information for the reader and the thesis statement, a body presenting your key points, and a conclusion to wrap up the essay. Pay attention to paragraph and sentence structure as well as grammar and punctuation. All of these items affect the reading of your essay and therefore, your grade. You do not want errors in any of these items to distract the reader from your message.
This is an academic essay and should be written in third person. Do not use first person and avoid the use of second person.
Most importantly, take what you have learned in this course and use it to develop your essay. Use the terminology, theories, history, technological aspects, etc. This is your chance to put everything you have learned to work for you.

Type of service-Academic paper writing
Type of assignment-Essay
Pages / words-7 / 1925
Number of sources-6
Academic level-Junior (College 3rd year)
Paper format-MLA
Line spacing-Double
Language style-US English

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