How to Write a Reflection Paper in Film and Theatre Studies: Things to Keep in Mind

Writing guide
Posted on July 1, 2021

When a film director wants to learn more about the attitude of viewers towards his or her movie, he or she will check comments on various websites and social networks. Feedback of viewers belongs to reflection writing. People watch a movie and say what they like or dislike about it. They might also mention things they would like to delete or change. Thanks to that, a filmmaker can consider defects to improve future works.

A reflection paper aims at learning students’ thoughts and feelings concerning some ideas, approaches, or suggestions. Consequently, a reflection paper in Film and Theater Studies should speak about somebody’s point of view about the plot, actors, decorations, and other details of a particular movie or theatrical play. Students have a chance to become critics and estimate the assigned work of art.

NB! A reflection paper is subjective, though, it must not be too emotional and resemble a personal diary.

Compared to other academic assignments, a reflection paper is interested in a student’s vision of the topic. So, one should remember important details to avoid mistakes and get the highest grade.

  • You present their viewpoints using the first person singular.
  • You speak about the problem so that the target reader could let their emotions through.
  • You can alter the presentation and hint at concluding deduction at the beginning of the paper.
  • You support their thoughts with personal experience and examples of friends or mates.
  • You speak about the lesson you have learned when dealing with reflection writing.

Professionals recommend using active voice instead of passive and preferring description to simple telling. Due to that, a reader can empathize with the student and understand the chosen point of view.

How to Write a Reflection Paper in Film and Theatre Studies in 4 Steps

Experts write such papers very often and have developed a scheme of actions. They know how to do that quickly and qualitatively. Professional writers take four steps to complete a reflection paper. Students can also follow them to manage time and succeed.

Step 1. Be always topic-oriented

Students are lucky to get the ready topic and reflect on it. As a rule, professors and teachers ask a question and tell their students to answer it. A student should write a summary regarding the research topic and personal experience. It is better to be honest when discussing the idea. Reflection papers help readers better understand students’ feelings, emotions, and, consequently, the chosen side or opinion.

Speaking about the world of movies and theatrical plays, students usually argue with the choice of actors, scenes, and portrayal of events or choice of words for dialogues. Usually, people dislike something when it contradicts reality or looks silly. They compare everything with things or events they have observed.

Step 2. Create an outline to know what you need

It is impossible to write a paper without a good plan. An outline is a perfect assistant for students and writers. First, a person brainstorms to collect all ideas on a piece of paper and see what to do, how to do, and what else it is necessary to add. It also helps to create a striking thesis statement and look for literature to support its idea with vivid facts.
Senior students say that it is effective to add citations and links to each item of the plan. Later, it will be easier to cite the applied literature. Facts make the text sound smarter and more credible. Shreds of evidence in combination with personal experience help students be convincing and create winning content.

Step 3. What is the influence of the main idea on you and your beliefs?

A reflection paper unites personal expectations and conclusions made at the end of the writing. The best way is to write questions and give answers. These are sample questions one can answer when performing a reflection paper in Film and Theatre Studies.

  • How did the film/ play affect me?
  • What are the strong and weak points of the movie/ play?
  • Did the movie/ play alter my beliefs, thoughts, ideas, and prior assumptions?
  • Are there any questions that still need a response?
  • In what way does the movie/ play relate to my personal experience?
  • Are there any movies/ plays which ideas cross with the chosen one?
  • Is the core idea of the play/ movie unique? How does it differ?

Everything depends on the topic. A professor can ask to speak only about characters and avoid a general description of the movie. A tutor might want to know what a person thinks about stage decoration and costumes. In this case, students are to ask reflective questions on a specific topic. For example, ‘Was the selection of dressing successful? Did it help the audience understand how poor the main character was? Did the closing impress me and my imagination of poverty?’

Step 4. Connect everything you know to reflect your suppositions

It is better to introduce one’s assumptions at the beginning of the paper. Then a person will have to talk about the movie or a play. Finally, a student will draw conclusions. In other words, a student believes in something and describes the changes that happened to him or her after the film screening or staging of the play. Every detail matters. Mentioning various things will be indicative of awareness and diligent analysis of the chosen theatrical or cinematographic work.

How to Write a Reflection Paper in Film and Theatre and Keep to the Academic Structure

Senior students often say that a reflection paper does not demand formal structure and a student can experiment. It is only a partial truth. One can start with the conclusion and develop the opposite idea to shock the reader. Nevertheless, a student has to present all the important parts of an academic paper. One can use unique words and writing style but introduce one’s position logically and wisely.

An average paper consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Each part serves a concrete purpose.


This part welcomes the reader. Its goal is to attract the target audience. Professionals recommend using different methods to catch a reader’s eye. The most popular ones are reflective questions, jokes, citations, provocative statements, etc. It is also important to include a thesis statement that frames the key message of the paper. It is clever to present it at the end of the introductory part. That will guarantee a meaningful connection with the body of the paper.


A body is a reasonable explanation of the thesis statement presented in the introduction. Its purpose is to develop the idea of the reflection paper. A student should not only describe personal experience and feelings but cite other sources to support the central message. Experienced writers recommend creating three paragraphs to compose a good body.

A person should explain personal impressions concerning a topic of the reflection paper in the first paragraph. Reflection writing is beneficial because there is no right or wrong point of view. A person can think the way he or she wants. One should also speak about things a person expects from the movie or a play. The second paragraph provides other reasons for such an attitude towards the topic. It reflects discoveries a student finds in the movie or play. The third paragraph discloses a student’s feelings and experience related to the main idea.

One might also introduce the connection between the described film or play and other works. Experts recommend reading reviews of outstanding people and fans to sound convincing and knowledgeable.


In this part, a person demonstrates changes, and the path one has undergone to draw such a conclusion. A student compares personal experience with and assumptions before watching a movie or a play and after. One can also ask another reflection question to make the reader agree with the presented viewpoint or ponder on things that remained ‘silent’ but deserve considerations.

One should summarize briefly and brightly. The concluding words are to evoke the emotions of the target audience. Such a trick helps the reader to understand the writer and ponder on important things.

NB! A person is free to use literary devices in descriptions, though, one must preserve an academic tone.

The Last Things to Do Before Handing in a Reflection Paper in Film and Theatre Studies

Nobody doubts the importance of the information a student discusses in the paper. Nevertheless, it is not the only condition that guarantees excellent marks. Academic writing demands proper formatting and text free of slips. That is why a person has to do the following things before handing in the paper.


It often happens that individuals finish their work but are too tired to check it. Some of them have enough time to read it later and manage to correct mistakes. Others neglect proofreading and fail because of grammar errors they have not noticed. One should proofread the text being rested. Moreover, it is better to reread the text once again to make sure that everything is smart and well-composed.

It is impossible to notice all errors in a hurry. A student should read each sentence slowly and devote enough time to that process. Otherwise, it will be ineffective.


Sometimes a person repeats oneself and creates watery texts. As a rule, a volume of a reflection paper is not big and covers 400-800 words. Consequently, a person must select every word carefully and every sentence should bring new information. One must rewrite passages that lack clarity, logic, and value for the paper. It is better not to be lazy and edit the paper properly.

One should use transitions to convey the message and improve the readability of the text. Such words and word combinations connect all parts and help to structure a paper preserving lucidity. A reflection writing resembles a chain that unites all sentences and leads a reader from the beginning to its end presenting facts, beliefs, and thoughts of the writer.


An academic paper must have a solid look. It means that a student must use the required size of the page, font, spacing, margins, etc. One should not look for the formatting details on the Internet because different colleges have different requirements. As a rule, an official website of the college or university devotes a page to this question. Another variant is to ask a tutor.

Final grading includes points for the formatting, so it is better to do everything correctly. Besides, the bibliography section has formatting peculiarities as well. A college can demand Harvard, MLA, Chicago, or APA style. It is not a problem to find information about each style on the Internet or find a tool that generates citations quickly and without mistakes.

How to Write a Reflection Paper in Film and Theatre: Do’s and Don’ts

One should definitely know what to do and what to avoid. These 5 to-dos and 5 to-avoid things in reflection writing.


  • use online tools to edit a paper like Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, and Cliche Finder
  • develop a personal writing style and present a unique paper
  • involve facts and objectivity when speaking about the plot, filmmakers, and characters
  • present personal thoughts about the movie or play
  • reason your reaction and provide recommendations


  • use too negative or positive tone when describing a movie or a play
  • overuse long and complicated sentences
  • apply long quotations and citations
  • generalize personal viewpoint
  • introduce several ideas within one paragraph

It is better not to depend on one’s intuition and scan the text through various tools to detect slips, plagiarism, passages with bad readability, cliches, and other incorrectness. One should supply the paper with a personal viewpoint but be objective when describing the plot and the creators. Language is to be academic. If a person chooses a side or presents a reaction to the movie or a play, it will be necessary to explain them. Generalizing is not a reflection!

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