Volume 1, Issue 16: Black Lives Matter Playlist IV

New Episode with Cydnii Wilde Harris, BLM Playlist Debuts this weekend, Call for FanVids

Welcome back to the newsletter! A few weeks ago I teased that I would have some exciting personal news to share. Well, here it is: If you follow me on social media, you know that almost three weeks ago I started a new job as a media analyst at Media Matters for America. I couldn’t be more excited to pitch in and help with the work they are doing in these insane and important times. My work there is, of course, completely independent from any of the podcast/film/video essay stuff I do on the side. My plan is to continue producing podcast episodes, this newsletter video essays, and the occasional written essay, but all these things will have to occasionally take a back seat, especially in the immediate future as I settle in and get in the swing of things. I’ll have a short essay for you next week. In the meantime, enjoy the newsletter!

P.S. And a friendly reminder that I more than welcome guest posts/essays/video essay guides/etc. for this space!


Episode 18. Cydnii Wilde Harris

The podcast is back! The one and only Cydnii Wilde Harris joins the show to discuss her video essay, "Cotton — The Fabric of Genocide." We also discuss Ian Garwood's "SLAP THAT BASS Zoomed" and Jace Alexander Casey's "New Forms of Racism in the Post-Cinematic Dispositif." We also talked about what it's like to be a student of videographic criticism and how video essays have shaped our own scholarly pursuits!


Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist

A reminder that this Saturday, September 12th, selections from the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist will screen at the London-based Open City Documentary Festival. The event, "Seen and Heard: Selections from the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist" will take place at 2 p.m. EST. In addition to the screenings, Cydnii Wilde Harris, Kevin B. Lee, and myself will be in dialogue with the creators. All revenue from ticket sales will be donated to Black Minds Matter UK.

The festival is also offering a bulk discount for classrooms. An educational group ticket is available for £30 when you enter the promo code “EDUC4T1ONALGR0UP2020” at checkout. A hidden ticket type will appear after you type in the promo. Teachers will receive a link to the livestream about an hour before the event which can then be shared with students. More here.


Partnership with the Cary Comes Home Festival

Another reminder that the podcast is partnering with the Cary Comes Home Festival, the Bristol, UK-based festival honoring the life and work of Cary Grant, to present "The Journeys of Cary Grant: An Audiovisual Celebration."

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Grant’s journey to the United States and international stardom, we are seeking video essays exploring journeys of many types.​​​​​​​ 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!

The rolling deadline for submissions is Friday, October 16thSubmit here.

Here’s a submission from Ian Magor:


News & Notes

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

  • Ian Garwood assembled a wonderful list of open access sources for curated video essay collections. Read here.

  • The Fan Studies North America Conference invites submissions of short-form video reflections on fandom, fanvids, or both.  Submissions can include fan vids, edits, or video essays/videographic criticism. Videos should be between 1 and 5 minutes long. Videos will be screened in their Vid Show. More here.

  • All four chapters of Bottled Songs, the collaboration between Chloé Galibert-Laîné and Kevin B. Lee, will also screen for the first time at Open City Documentary Festival. More here.

  • Apply for the Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant. Deadline is October 31.

  • Tecmerin has put out a call for video essays, due Oct. 15. More here.

  • 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.

  • And congratulations to the one and only Katie Grant!!


    Student Spotlight: Q&A with Kelsey Draper

    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.

    Kelsey Draper completed this video essay under the supervision of Liz Greene at Liverpool John Moores University.

    How did you come up with the idea for this essay? What drew you to the form of video essay and Safe in particular?

    I created this video essay as part of my university’s Audiovisual Essay module. When I first received the assignment brief, I was brainstorming various films I thought I could discuss effectively in a video essay, mainly films that I liked and already knew a bit about. Despite having multiple films I wanted to talk about, I couldn’t settle on any of them. One evening, I stumbled upon Safe on the streaming platform Mubi and I was instantly drawn in. I didn’t necessarily love the film itself, but I was so intrigued by its strange atmosphere and stylistic choices that I knew I wanted to explore it in-depth, and so the video essay assignment was the perfect excuse to do that!

    I noticed you have a constant sound that plays throughout the piece. What is this sound? Why did you choose to include it and what do you think it brings to the piece?

    The background music is actually a selection of three separate tracks from the score of the film. Although I don’t discuss it in the essay, sound plays a huge role in establishing the uneasy atmosphere of Safe, and so I wanted to incorporate it into my video essay. Much of the music in the film is very unsettling. It sounds ominous, almost ‘alien-like’, and I felt that, by including it in my work, it would bring the whole essay together and audibly convey the atmosphere of the film without having to mention the use of sound. My essay is split into three main sections, ‘Framing, ‘Character’ and ‘Themes’, and so I decided to include a different piece of music for each section in order to further differentiate them while also keeping a steady pace to the essay.

    I really liked the white border that frames the video essay. Why did you choose to include this?

    Initially, it was purely an aesthetic choice. I felt that having a white border made the essay look quite sleek and helped the transition to split-screen and archival footage less jarring. However, as I was doing more and more research surrounding Safe, I realised that the white border effectively mirrored its themes of isolation and enclosed spaces. One of the key arguments of the essay is how the framing contributes towards the atmosphere of the film, and so the aim of the white border was to present this discussion in a way that reflected the form of the source itself.

    What is one "aha!" moment you had while creating your video essay? In other words, what did the process of actually making the video teach you about your object of study?

    Before this video essay, I had only ever presented essays in written form. While I was constructing this piece, I came to realise how valuable it is to actually see and experience the film yourself in order to understand the argument at hand. Written essays can be highly informative, but there are techniques which are unique to the video essay form which can make you look at a film from a completely different perspective. For example, there is a section of my essay where I use multi-screen to compare the framing of Safe to that of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. While I knew Todd Haynes was influenced by 2001, actually seeing the two films side by side made me understand Haynes’s stylistic choices and motivation for the film on a much deeper level. That is what I loved about creating this essay - having the ability to visually apply the research I’ve done to the subject matter so that anyone, whether they’re familiar with the film or not, can understand my argument and bring their own perspective.


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