Introduction to video-essays

While we wait for the Videography course to become again available at Middlebury, I invite you to discover the world of video essays on your own terms through these five artists.

Video essay is a piece of video content that, much like a written essay, advances an argument. The only difference is that a video essay takes advantage of the structure and language of film to deliver its point.

  1. Kogonada

    Discover masterfully constructed video essays from the writer-director Kogonada who reveals through visual arguments the power of cinematography in your favourite. His works are STRIKINGLY beautiful and give you an amazing insight into the history of film and its artistic power to create emotional response in viewers worldwide. You can start your exploration with this piece on Italian Neo-realism:
  2. Shanespeare

    If you are looking for more casual, relaxed and chattier video-essay experience, you should definitely check out Shanespeare channel on YouTube. Shaniya explores a variety of cultural, societal and media subjects using popular films we consume to ask critical questions about our collective values. And it’s great fun, too! She manages to combine highly academic rhetoric with casual Gen-z language and jokes, making you feel like you are listening to a friend’s banter about pop culture’s latest trends. I recommend this piece on How Hollywood Demonizes Feminity.
  3. Nerdwriter

    We all sooner or later discover this channel on Youtube and inevitably fall in love with Evan Pushak’s beautiful voice, slick visuals and highly engaging philosophical reflections on a myriad of humanity subjects. Whether you want to look at the film you love from a new, unexpected perspective, learn about history, architecture, painting or like me, discover the poetry of Emily Dickinson and E.E. Cummings, you absolutely must check out this page if you haven’t already done so before. You can start with this piece Time, Tarkovsky And Pandemic.
  4. What’s So Great About That?

    Grace Lee is the queen of engaging with dense, very specific media subjects with seeming ease and relaxed attitude that you cannot stop watching whatever video you happen to click on and can find yourself down the rabbit hole of layers of complex theoretical arguments Lee proposes. Be careful with this self-reflexive, funny and piercingly smart video-essayist, because the next time you will be preparing readings for your film theory class, inevitably this question will pop into your head: “Did Grace reference this paper in one her essays?” She probably did, and let’s keep this gem between us. You can start with her piece on Video essay.
  5. Lessons from the Screenplay

    Finally, if like me, you have missed an opportunity to take a screenwriting course and find yourself in ss1/2 trying to make a short film, this is one of the helpful resources on your crash-course journey of becoming a better storyteller. Check out this piece on the structure of When Harry Met Sally.

    Bonus essay: Jessica McGoff on Mulholland Drive:

Feel free to talk to me about taking a video essay class – my media tutor hours: Sunday 4 pm-7pm and 8pm-12 am:)

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