• 3-minute read
  • 20th August 2020

How to Cite a Film in Chicago Footnote Referencing

If you need to quote or refer to a film or documentary in an essay, you need to cite it correctly. But how do you cite a film in Chicago footnote referencing? In this post, we explain how this works.

How to Cite a Film in Chicago Footnotes

In the Chicago system, you should include the following details in the footnote when you first cite a film or documentary:

n. Film Title, directed by Director’s Name (year of original release; distributor details, year of edition cited), format/URL.

In practice, then, the first footnote citation for a DVD would look like this:

1. The Sword in the Stone, directed by Wolfgang Reitherman (1963; Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Studios, 2008), DVD.

For repeat citations, you’d then just need to give the film’s title.

Citing a Specific Part of a Film

You can also cite a specific part of a film. You have two options for this:

  • Cite an indexed section with a scene name at the start of a footnote (similar to how you would cite a chapter from an edited book). This is best when discussing a scene as a whole.
  • Give a time stamp at the end of the footnote citation. This is best when you’re quoting a line or citing a very specific moment from a film.

In the first case, you would use the indexed name or scene number for the version of the film you’re citing (i.e., the name given when you use the “Chapter select” option on your DVD player):

2. “John makes a dinner reservation for twelve,” John Wick, directed by Chad Stahelski (2014; Santa Monica, CA: Lionsgate), DVD.

In the second case, you’ll need to give the exact time of the scene you’re citing in hours, minutes, and seconds. For instance:

3. 21 Bridges, directed by Brian Kirk (2019; Burbank, CA: STXfilms), https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B0815SMXC1/, 01:03:25.

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In both cases, this will point the reader to the relevant part of the source.

Films in a Chicago Bibliography

For every source you cite in a footnote, you’ll need to add it to the bibliography at the end of your paper. For a film, the correct format here is:

Director Surname, First Name, dir. Film Title. Year of original release; Distributor details, year of edition cited. Format/URL.

Note that we give the creator’s name first here instead of the title, unlike in the footnotes. This is because a Chicago bibliography lists sources alphabetically by the author’s (or, in this case, director’s) surname.

For example, the entries for the films cited above would look like this:

Kirk, Brian, dir. 21 Bridges. 2019; Burbank, CA: STXfilms. https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B0815SMXC1/

Reitherman, Wolfgang, dir. The Sword in the Stone. 1963; Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Studios, 2008. DVD.

Stahelski, Chad, dir. John Wick. 2014; Santa Monica, CA: Lionsgate. DVD

As shown above, moreover, the bibliography only lists the film as a whole. As such, you don’t need to include time stamps or scene names here.

You can follow these tips to cite a film in Chicago footnote referencing. And remember, our expert proofreaders are available 24/7 to help you polish your reference list and clear up any mistakes in your writing.

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