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FTM 205 Fortmueller

Getting Started and Barinstorming

Getting Started With Your Final Paper

Once you have chosen your research topic, the next step you should take is to find background information about your film and to also develop keywords for searching. Finding background information and brainstorming keywords will set you on the right track for when you begin to search for articles and other materials for your final paper.

Finding Background Information

Finding background information is a key component to doing quality music in film research. When you are doing background research you should be looking for all of the specific details about the film in which you are researching. For example, if we were to examine the use of sound in Citizen Kane we might need to know some of the following information:
Citizen Kane

  • Alternate Title
  • Director
  • Release Date
  • Premiere Information
  • Production Date
  • Cast                                                                                                
  • Composers and Conductors
  • Sound designers/editors/recorders
  • Production music
  • Songs

To find this type of background information I would begin by searching in the American Film Institute Catalog or by taking a look at the next tab on this guide titled "Background Sources" for links to the best music and film encyclopedias and dictionaries.

Image: "Citizen Kane-1" by RKO Radio Pictures - Citizen Kane trailer (1941). Screenshot taken at 3:40 from this DVD release — Warner Home Video, September 13, 2011, DVD. 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collectors Edition, UPC 883929184811 (DVD).. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Citizen_Kane-1.JPG#/media/File:Citizen_Kane-1.JPG

Brainstorming

Once you have found your background information, the next step you should take is to brainstorm keywords about your topic. When brainstorming about your topic, try and think of any words or concepts associated with your film and the direction you wish to research it. This will help when you begin searching as you will often have to try a variety of different search terms to find what you are looking for.

For example, if I were researching music in Citizen Kane I might consider the following keywords: 

  • music
  • sound
  • musical score
  • Citizen Kane
  • Orson Welles
  • composer
  • soundtrack
  • film critique
  • significance

These keywords can now be used when you begin searching library databases. To see the best library databases for film and music topics select the tab at the top of the page titled "Finding Articles".

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American Film Institute Catalog