• 3-minute read
  • 4th September 2017

APA Referencing – Citing a Film or TV Show

Usually, people switch on the TV or go to the cinema to avoid work. But sometimes, if you’re watching the right show or film (e.g. a documentary), it can count as ‘research’ instead.

Cinemas have popcorn, which is more than any university library can say. (Image: dbreen)

For this to work, though, you need to know how to cite what you’re watching. With APA referencing, this depends on what it is you’re citing in your work.

In-Text Citations

The basics of citing a film or TV show are the same as for any other source. All you need to do is give a name and date in parentheses. The person (or people) to cite may depend on the particular source, but it usually includes producers, directors and/or writers.

With a film, for instance, you could cite the director and the year of release:

As we all know, the most important moment in Australian history is when Hugh Jackman takes his shirt off (Luhrmann, 2008).

If you’re quoting a film or TV show, you also need to give a timestamp in the citation:

Critic David Stratton said the film was ‘a bit perfunctory’ (Adams, 2008, 24:21).

Here, for example, we see that the quote comes from 24 minutes and 21 seconds into the broadcast. It’s also worth noting that although David Stratton was speaking, the director, Julie Adams, is the person cited in this case.

Reference List: Film

In the reference list, the correct format for a motion picture is:

Surname, Initial(s). (Role). (Year). Title [Format]. Studio.

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As such, the DVD of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia would be listed as follows:

Luhrmann, B. (Director). 2008. Australia [Motion picture]. 20th Century Fox.

Reference List: TV Show

The format for a TV show in the reference list depends on whether you’re citing a one-off broadcast or an episode from a series. For a one-off broadcast, the standard format is:

Surname, Initial(s). (Role). (Date of Broadcast). Program [Program Type]. Network, Studio or Distributor.

The correct format for an episode from a series, meanwhile, is:

Surname, Initial(s). (Role). (Date or Year of Broadcast). Episode title [Program Type]. In Producer’s name (Producer), Program title. Network, Studio, or Distributor.

For example, we would reference the episode of At the Movies cited above as follows:

Adams, J. (Director). (26 November 2008). Episode #5.41 [Television series episode]. In B. Walls (Producer), At the Movies. ABC.

The main thing to remember here is that the people listed as the creators in the reference list need to match the people cited in the main text of your essay.

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