Volume 1, Issue 13: Cary Grant

Pod's Got a New Website, BLM Playlist Enters the Academy, It's Bad Luck to Compare Hands

You’ve got more homework!! I couldn’t be more excited to announce a partnership between The Video Essay Podcast and the Cary Comes Home Festival! Here’s the full call for video essays:

The Journeys of Cary Grant: An Audiovisual Celebration

Call for Contributions

The Cary Comes Home Festival, in partnership with The Video Essay Podcast

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Cary Grant’s journey to the United States and international stardom, his hometown’s festival is seeking video essays exploring journeys of many types.

This year marks the centenary of Archie Leach’s first transatlantic voyage, the beginning of his incredible journey to becoming Cary Grant. Born in Bristol, UK in 1904 as Archibald Leach, Archie ran away from school with a troupe of acrobats and later sailed to America on the RMS Olympic on 21 July 1920 on, arriving in New York on 28 July. Archie lived in New York for over 10 years developing his craft, first in vaudeville, then in a music hall on the Broadway stage, before setting off in a yellow open-top Packard in November 1931 for Hollywood, where he changed his name and the rest is history. Journeys also feature in many of his films, from the 2000-mile chase of North by Northwest to the cruise ship romance in An Affair to Remember. 

We are interested in exploring the idea of the journey, not only in terms of geography, place, space and physical travels (both real life and on film), but also in terms of psychological journeys: voyages of identity, self-discovery and self-invention.  

We are open to all kinds of journeys, including fan journeys, star pilgrimage, set-jetting, movie location tours and rephotography and all forms of audio-visual criticism, including video essays, fanvids, and any kind of video that reappropriates footage of Cary Grant. 

Videos of any length will be accepted but the ideal length will be between 5-6 minutes. 

All submitted work will be featured on the Cary Comes Home website and on The Video Essay Podcast website. Some of the best work will be featured on an episode of The Video Essay Podcast which will be recorded live at the virtual festival in November. Creators will be invited to join the conversation. 

Please add “For Study Purposes Only” at the end of the video, include a list of the sources of clips used, any references cited and ideally, if you want to use a backing track, please only use copyright-free music for that purpose. If you use copyrighted music, we may not be able to feature your work at the festival.

You will need to upload to your own Vimeo page. Learn more about uploading in their Video Guidelines, Compression Guidelines, and Help Center.

If you are new to making video essays you might want to check out the series of videographic exercises listeners were assigned as “homework” on The Video Essay Podcast, here.

Rolling Deadline until: Friday 16 October 2020

We’ll begin to post submissions to the website from September.


Cary Comes Home is a biennial festival which aims to celebrate Cary Grant’s Bristol roots, develop new audiences for his work and recreate the golden age of cinema-going, directed by Dr Charlotte Crofts (Associate Professor of Filmmaking, UWE Bristol). The festival will take place online this year, 20-22 November 2020. Learn more at www.carycomeshome.co.uk

The Video Essay Podcast, hosted by Will DiGravio, features interviews with critics, scholars, filmmakers, and other leading creators of videographic criticism. The show is accompanied by a weekly newsletter, ‘Notes on Videographic Criticism,’ which features original essays, interviews, and links to events and news related to the form. Learn more at www.thevideoessay.com. v

Please let me know if you have any questions! I will continue to plug the event in this newsletter until the deadline.

Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist

Cydnii Harris, Kevin B. Lee, and I are continuing to update the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist. Please continue sending in videos! Going forward, I will highlight a piece from the list each week:

CW: Violence, police brutality

News & Notes

I need your help curating this section!! Have something that should be featured? Email me: willdigravio@gmail.com

  • Deadline Tomorrow!! — The audiovisual essay journal Tecmerin issued a new CFP and is accepting submissions until August 1, 2020. The journal also recently released a special issue of video essays on “Censorship & Media,” with work by Niamh Thornton, Agustín Fernández, Daniel Ferrera, Manuel Palacio and Ana Mejón.

  • ScreenWorlds and [in]Transition have partnered on a call for video essays, “African Screen Worlds in Conversation with Other Screen Worlds.” Learn more here. The deadline is October 1, 2020.

  • Thanks to Irina Trocan for writing about the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist in an article for Close Up! Read below.

  • The latest issue of Senses of Cinema features a dossier on Stanley Kubrick, including a selection of video essays curated by Jeremi Szaniawski.

  • Congratulations to Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell on publishing their 1,000th blog post! The post is a reflection on their blog itself. Read it here.

  • And finally, drum roll please …. the podcast now has a new website! As I said on Twitter, let me know what you think/where the typos are.

    Student Spotlight: Q&A with Alex Slentz

    Each week, the newsletter will aim to feature a video essay made by a student(s) along with a short Q&A. Is there a student(s) or former student(s) of yours you would like to see highlighted? Email willdigravio@gmail.com.

    Alex Slentz is an MFA student at the Savannah College of Art & Design.

    I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your piece. How did you come up with the idea for the video? What were the early stages of your creative process like? How did you settle on these three films? 

    Thank you so much! The idea came together for a final project in Professor Tracy Cox-Stanton’s class, Cinema in Context. The final project was focused on a specific movement in film, and with my emphasis in film being on editing, I thought combining and comparing different surrealist works could display the Surrealist movement better than anything I could film myself. The early stages of working on this project were mainly spent watching and re-watching Persona, since it was the longest of the three films. Once I had picked all the clips from Persona that I felt would work in this piece, I went through Un Chien Andalou and Meshes of the Afternoon to find clips I could use to compare them. I knew I wanted to include Un Chien Andalou, because it’s such a significant film when discussing the Surrealist movement in film. Including Persona and Meshes of the Afternoon came partly because I enjoyed the difference in the time periods; how that influenced the composition and aesthetic of the films, and partly because they are two films that I was already very familiar with and had previously shaped my view and admiration for the Surrealist genre.  

    I really appreciated how you allow for the images, for lack of a better word, to breathe; to not take up the full screen. How and why did you settle upon this decision? What is the intended effect? 

    I originally had the images take up the full screen, but when editing the clips together the comparisons seemed to get lost in between the cuts. I had to re-edit the project a few times to get the intended result, but I believe that putting the images side by side helped convey the comparisons better than switching between the different films. I’ve always thought of the split screen effect as something that is very engaging and entertaining (and as someone with a particularly short attention span), it keeps the viewers eye moving and paying attention. I found that putting the comparing images side by side gave a clearer idea of my intended purpose and was easier to see how the films related to each other, and why I chose to compare them.  

    I believe that you are an MFA student and a filmmaker. Is that correct? If so, how does your filmmaking background influence a more critical piece like this one? 

    That is correct! I think my filmmaking background influences pieces like this because I’ve been taught to recognize specific symbols and draw comparisons between films, which really helped me when I was choosing the shots to edit together. I spent a lot of my undergraduate career in film theory courses, which taught me a lot about questioning the intent and meaning behind films and how it relates to the history and time period it was made in. The concept of questioning intent and creating your own meaning was something that first pulled me into experimental art. It’s always fascinated me how the spectator’s conclusion or interpretation of abstract artwork can differ wildly from the artist’s intent, and that’s something I really love about the experimental and surrealist genre. I’ve always referred to myself as an ‘experimental’ artist but diving into the origins and specific meanings of different movements really helped me realize how surrealism specifically has influenced me.  

    And to follow up on that question, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about Tracy, myself, and others classifying your work as a video essay. Do you agree? I ask this because on a past episode of my podcast, Jennifer Proctor and I discussed the work of Martin Arnold, and how his work might be considered a video essay, and how video essays, of course, operate in the tradition of the found footage film. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on your piece being a video essay, and where you see similarities and differences between the two practices. 

    I do agree! I didn’t intend for it to turn out as one, but on reflection I do see how it could be interpreted as such. The manipulation of found footage, I think, can always (to some level) be considered a video essay since altering found footage is making a comment on the original film, intended or not. Most of my work involves found footage, since my primary interest is editing, so I often don’t think of the interpretation of others and instead try to focus on the aesthetic of the work. For me, the tradition of found footage has been to utilize found footage to create new works, while video essays were to make a commentary on specific films or genres. When discussing this certain piece however, seeing how it utilizes found footage and compares surrealism in them, it definitely falls in line with what I’ve viewed as video essays.  

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