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Exercise Movie

Demonstration of cinematic technique from the 1950s

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The film shows three different film versions of a simple storyline, taken by a beginner, an experienced amateur and a professional filmmaker. The three short films were made by a beginner, an experienced amateur and a professional. Each was given the same story synopsis, the same camera (a GB Bell Howell 'Autoload') and 100ft of 16mm Kodak Plus X film. Working independently, each movie-maker shot his own version of the story in the same location with the same girl in the leading part. The films show a woman sitting on a park bench feeding the pigeons. The man sitting next to her falls asleep, trapping her handbag. The woman then has to startle the man awake by bursting a paper bag in order to free her handbag. The full story of Exercise Movie was published in Amateur Movie Maker August, September 1958.

Questions & Activities


  • What similarities and differences can you spot between the three clips?
  • Which one do you like the best?
  • Would the inclusion of dialogue/sound effects/music improve the films?
  • What are the points the producers want to make about the level of experience of the filmmakers?


Media Studies / Literacy: Download these films, separate them and show them to the class without telling them who is the beginner, who is experienced and who is a professional filmmaker. See if they can spot the differences in terms of story design, cinematography, shot structure (direction), acting and editing. You may want to discuss which film was technically the best (cinematography, directing, acting, story, etc.) and which was emotionally most satisfying and why.

Media Studies / Literacy: At the end of the second film the girl looks back and the man smiles (remember the Gary Moore song "Looking Back" song), write a sequel that shows how their relationship develops.

Drama: Think out and act out a new scenario involving a male character, a female character, a bench, a paper bag, and a handbag.

Media Studies / Computer Studies: Add sound effects and music to alter the genre or tone of the clip (e.g. thriller, horror, comedy, love story).

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-345-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 3969
Date 1958
Genre Drama, Educational
School Subject Media Studies, English, Computing Science
Subject Matter Literacy, Creative Writing
Who Brian Glanvill (filmmaker), George H. Sewell (filmmaker), Leslie Freeman (filmmaker)
Where Scotland
Attributes Black and White, Silent
Clip Length 6:32
Film Length 06:32