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(Original 1993) The Nightmare Before Christmas Trailer
Introduction to Film Study
Indirect-Direct Characterization
Idea created by Landon Pollard; expanded and edited by Donna Hambright
Subject: High School English 9-10 and/or AIG Language Arts 6-8
Approximate Time: Three to five class periods.
Materials: Whiteboard, whiteboard markers in several colors, slips of paper with adjectives describing different types of animated film characters; multiple copies of S.T.E.A.L. handout and highlighters in several colors for student use.
Essential Question: How does film characterization compare to literary characterization?
Student Objective: I CAN _____ (fill in the blank with RBTs : remember, explain/define, apply, analyze, evaluate, create) direct and indirect characterization using examples from literature and film.
(Common Core 6-7-8 ELA )
Opening Discussion Questions:
1. Can you learn something about personality simply by looking at appearance?
2. Does a person's speech reveal anything about his or her character?
3. Do a person’s actions tell you about what type of person he or she is?
4. How can you tell what a person is really thinking?
5. What effects do certain people have on other people?
In response to students' contribution to questions, teacher says: In literature, this is called characterization and there are different types of characterization. Today, we will discuss direct and indirect characterization using the mnemonic device S.T.E.A.L., which stands for Speech, Thoughts, Effects, Actions, Looks.
  • Write on the board: I CAN recognize and apply examples of direct and indirect characterization in animated film.
  • Distribute handout: S.T.E.A.L.; teach definition of direct and indirect characterization using color markers, while students use color highlighters.
  • Give examples of direct and indirect characterization from literature, which your students already know and compare with some from Tim Burton's NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993).
  • Have students work in groups; let each group choose a slip of paper with ADJECTIVE describing a film character. Each group will act out the adjective they have selected, while classmates try to guess.
Follow-up Discussion:
  • Ask students: “Why would an author choose to use either direct or indirect characterization, or both?”
  • Ask students: ”Which is more effective? Why?”
Closure: Your goal for today was: I CAN recognize and apply examples of direct and indirect characterization in animated film. So, class, let's review definitions of both types of characterization and name the five types of indirect characterization. Next time, we’re going to VIEW anthropomorphic characterizations through stage make-up and computer generated animation as a springboard for discussion and writing about characterization.
Grammar Hammer - Adjectives
Word Wall Vocabulary: Anthropomorphic, conundrum, mnemonic, personification
A. Informal: Teacher will ask questions at multiple levels during class discussion and teacher will monitor student progress.
B. Formal: Students will score no less than 88% on multiple-choice/short answer test evaluating student knowledge and comprehension of types of characterization in the animated film, Tim Burton’s THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993).
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Sally (Nightmare Before Christmas) Make-up look 2
Anthropomorphic Characterization
Anthropomorphic Characterization
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Anthropomorphic Characters

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