Discussion Guide for Film or Video
As young adults become more and more comfortable with different forms of media, they often would like to include media in how they learn and discuss God. One way to include media in campus ministry is to discuss movies. However, setting up a discussion can be a bit daunting. Below are some tipes for organizing movie discussions.
For a template for movie discussions, click here.
For movie discussions that are already developed, click here.
How to prepare
Unless you are taking the group to a movie, you need to view the material in advance. As you do, select the points you want to mention in your introduction to make the material clearer to your viewers. Make note of questions or issues that may arise, or which you might want to raise.
With both video and film, set up your equipment in advance so It is ready for instant use. You want to push the button and start the show without a hitch the minute you have finished your introduction. If you are going to a movie, read as many reviews as you can find and begin to visualize the discussion,
How to conduct the discussion The discussion you generate will vary with each film, video or movie you view. Discussions of dramatic films will differ from those of documentaries or panel discussions. In each case, however, the general pattern to follow remains the same.
Introduce the film or video. Explain what the film is about. You needn't go into detail; just say enough to orient participants to the subject and alert them to some key points. State the objectives for presenting this paticular film; this helps participants answer their unspoken question, "Why are we seeing this?" Tell them who produced the material. If it deals with a subject the group has discussed previously, mention some of the conclusions of the earlier discussions and ask them to look for new insights on those themes.
Following the viewing of the film or video, start by asking specific questions about the content of the production. If the film or video has a strong dramatic or emotional impact, give viewers a chance to express their feelings: "How were you feeling, or what went through your mind, when you saw those babies dying in their mothers' arms?" This step need not take a long time. If you plan for 30 minutes of discussion, three to five minutes will suffice.
Now you are ready to move to personal reactions, and then to implications for them and their world. Start with questions on the theme.
What does this mean to you?
You want to elicit personal reactions, personal understandings and personal thoughts. You can direct your questions to specific people if you like, especially if members of your group know each other well. Encourage people to both affirm and challenge the ideas they have received. When someone makes a statement, ask if others agree or disagree.
Which character was most like you?
Did the story come out the way you would have had it come out?
What moved you the most?
You should not have much trouble with this phase of the discussion. Everyone holds opinions and feelings, and most people like to talk about them. You will encourage an atmosphere of openness if you use restraint in giving your own ovinions. As leader, limit yourself to asking questions and encouraging conversation. If you sense the group is overlooking some important (to you) aspects of the issue, you can inject some "devil's advocate" questions, so long as you don't leave the impression that you are trying to convert them to your point of view.
Next shift the discussion from personal feelings and thoughts to the more gencralized area of implications for participants as a Christian community and as citizens of the nation and the world. Here you deal with the theme
What does this mean for us - as a campus ministry, a community, or a nation?
Begin by summarizing the personal ideas, feelings and reactions that have been expressed. You might list the key points on chalkboard or newsprint. These represent your group's understanding of the issue or topic. Then go on to explore wider implications with questions such as -
What does this mean for us as a campus ministry?
What can we do about it?
Where do we see signs of this issue (or its effects) in our own community?
How does this issue relate to other issues?
Monitor the time so that the session doesn't end with the discussion still up in the air. Two or three minutes before the end of the allotted time, stop the discussion, thank the group for their participation, and briefly summarize the insights and conclusions of the discussion. Ask if anyone wishes to go more deeply into some aspects of the issues raised. If that desire seems strong, plan for an appropriate follow-up session.