Exploring Multimodal Texts

3. Short Films: Modelled and Collaborative Analysis and Creation

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To analyse the visual, audio and gestural features used in multimodal texts
  • To use writing and design processes to plan and create a multimodal digital text
  • To effectively use modal features to enhance the meaning of a text
  • To explain the meaning of modal features

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can explain how visual, audio and gestural conventions are commonly interpreted
  • I can compose texts using visual, audio and gestural features

Short films

Graphic organiser

  • Identifying and exploring modes – Wordless film: docx PDF
  • Name, Describe, Act: docx PDF

Ask students to turn and talk with a partner about how a film narrative is similar and different from a print narrative. Record and display student responses using a Venn diagram.

Present the short film, Snack Attack. After viewing the film, ask students to work in small collaborative groups to:

  • summarise the main idea and sequence of events from the film
  • suggest the mood and theme of the film
  • create a character profile for each of the characters
  • list the emotional responses displayed by the characters.

Consider creating groups of four and using the jigsaw method to enable groups to answer each of the questions above.

Lead a discussion sharing student observations and summaries. Ask students to suggest how the author created mood, character and emotional responses in the film. Ask students to consider the stereotypes presented in the film. Encourage students to comment about the costumes, actions, facial expressions and physical appearance of the characters; the music and sound effects used in the film.

Explore the main point of view or character perspective that is presented in the film. For instance, what techniques were used to emphasise the woman’s viewpoint?

Replay the film, stopping at salient points to discuss the visual, audio and gestural conventions used. For example, signs of frustration and anger and examples of long, medium and close shots used to show setting, social interaction between characters and the emotional responses of characters. 

Stop the film at a close-up frame of the woman and man from the film - for example, at 2:08 and 2:10. Ask students to write a short script to express what each character is thinking and/or feeling. Share student responses and model giving feedback using the stars and stairs protocol, drawing attention to the star, examples of where the written text compliments the visual and gestural information, and suggesting a stair, outlining how the work could be improved to link the visual, gestural and written information.

Introduce the film Somersault Pike. Explain that this is a wordless film about a competitive diver who faces her fears while taking on new heights.

Ask students to predict how the film maker might communicate a character’s fear in a wordless film. Encourage students to think about the gestures and facial expressions that might indicate fear. Ask students to suggest visual and audio techniques that may suggest fear. Record and display student predictions.

Present the film and ask students to note:

After viewing the film, invite students to share their interpretations, questions and responses. Question prompts to support a general discussion could include:

  • What might the film be about? What might the film maker have been wanting to say?
  • What do you think about it? Why?
  • How does it make you feel? Why?
  • What are some of the things you find puzzling about the film?
  • What are some things or events that it reminds you of?
  • What connections can you make to other texts and experiences?

Replay the film and ask students to record their interpretations of visual, audio, gestural and spatial features using the Identifying and exploring modes: wordless film resource.


Enable students to closely examine modal patterns of meaning by suggesting they only focus on one aspect of visual communication. For example, facial expressions or point of view.

Extend students by directing their attention on how meaning is created by complementary modal patterns. For example, at 00:41; the long shot of the diving board, the dark clouds forming in the sky, the small figure of the diver standing alone, the calm waters of the pool and the ominous music combining to create a sense of trepidation or foreboding.

Facilitate a class discussion and ask students to describe explicit examples in the film where modal conventions are used effectively to create meaning. Replay the film if necessary to support the discussion.

Creating a digital text

Explain that students will be working in collaborative groups to create a short digital text that focuses on a particular emotion. Brainstorm a list of strong emotions with students and events or circumstances that may trigger each emotion.

Use a range of whole class and small group teaching sessions to support students to plan and create their digital text. ACMI provides teaching notes and suggested activities to explore:

  • developing a script, recording a scene
  • exploring shot types and camera angles
  • storyboarding.

Explicitly model each of these processes. Support students to plan, script and storyboard a digital text.

Decide on the technology that will be used. Class experts could support others by sharing expertise in editing and adding sound effects.

Create a rubric with the students, outlining the visual, audio and gestural features that could be used in the digital texts. Encourage students to list, describe and explain the meaning created by each modal convention during storyboarding.


Enable students by collaboratively writing a script during a shared writing session. Provide additional support to develop a storyboard.

Extend students by encouraging them to also consider using gaze and vectors to influence the viewer.

Provide a forum for students to present their films to their class or a wider school audience. Invite students to review the work of their peers, noting the modal conventions used to create meaning. Distribute the Name, Describe, Act graphic organiser and ask students to record effective techniques used by their peers to create meaning.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image, n.d. ACMI: Exploring shot types. [Online] Available at: https://www.acmi.net.au/education/school-program-and-resources/exploring-shot-types/ [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Gonzalez, J., 2015. 4 Things You Don't Know About the Jigsaw Method. [Online] Available at: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/jigsaw-teaching-strategy/ [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Lefoe, K., 2018. Somersault Pike. [Online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/275360779 [Accessed 15 March 2022].

NSW Government, 2021. Feedback strategies. [Online] Available at: https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/teacher-quality-and-accreditation/strong-start-great-teachers/refining-practice/feedback-to-students/feedback-practices-and-strategies#Feedback3 [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Verastegui, E., 2016. Snack Attack. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=38y_1EWIE9I [Accessed 15 March 2022].

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