Volume 2, Issue 7: Thinking

I'm stuck on my big project, so I started a new one

I’ve hit a bit of a wall with my Grace Kelly project. Actually, hitting a wall would imply that I had tried and failed to advance the project. I haven’t even tried. I still plan to complete the video essay this year, but I’ve just had no desire to reopen the Premiere file. Perhaps it’s because of my recent move to New York City. I associate the essay with working alone, with nothing else to do, in my parents’ basement. I’m living a different life now, and a big project like that feels like too much right now.

But for a long time, I’ve had an idea for a series of smaller video essays centered around the thoughts I have while watching movies. As I’ve said before on The Video Essay Podcast, some of my favorite video essays are ones that seemingly begin with —and then drill down on — a single thought.

And so, below is the first installment of what I hope will become a regular “Film Thoughts” series. Please let me know what you think!

And finally, here’s a little personal news. I’ve been a contributor to Film School Rejects since 2018, where I worked as an editorial intern and have contributed essays, reviews, and lists ever since. In fact, some of my first pieces were about video essays, and I contributed many “video essay guides” to movies, directors, actors, etc.

Last month, I took on a new role as a columnist. I now write two columns per week: "Brief Histories" centers on the stories behind trending pop culture topics and "Real Stories" tells the true stories behind upcoming film and TV releases. You can find them all here.

This week I also had a chance to review The Green Knight, the latest film from the great David Lowery. I loved it. You can read the review here.

I’m very excited to be getting back in the writing game in this way. I’m also hoping to review more films in the future and continue writing articles at FSR and elsewhere. If you happen to edit a publication that needs some writing, feel free to hit me up! : )

Episode 27. Ian Garwood

The latest episode of The Video Essay Podcast features a conversation with Ian Garwood, senior lecturer in Film & Television Studies at the University of Glasgow, and one of the leading practitioners of the academic audiovisual essay. We discuss Ian's background, his creative process, Cary Grant, the influence of Catherine Grant, the role of voiceover in AV criticism, and his award-winning audiovisual monograph, Indy Vinyl: Records in American Independent Cinema: 1987 to 2019. We also discuss "My Mulholland," a video essay by Jessica McGoff. 

News & Notes

I need your help curating this section! Is there something going on in the video essay world that you think others should know about? Email me: willdigravio@gmail.com.

This week’s news and notes begins with two exciting new opportunities to create video essays! The first is led by Evelyn Kreutzer and Ariel Avissar.

Via Ariel’s Facebook page:

Two years ago, Evelyn Kreutzer and I invited our friends and colleagues to collaborate on “Once Upon a Screen”, a collection of video essays dealing with childhood cinematic traumas; this resulted in nine videos that were published in The Cine-Files late last year (check it out if you haven’t already: http://www.thecine-files.com/issue15-audiovisual-essays/).

Today we are excited to launch another volume of our project!

This time the concept is a bit different. For one thing, we’ll be expanding our scope from childhood traumas to include, more broadly, formative screen memories from viewing film/TV/audiovisual media.

Also, we will employ a more collaborative approach, operating in two steps: first, each person interested in participating will submit a text – not a video – narrating their formative screen memory; this “narrative” should be understood in the broadest possible sense – either an explanatory narrative or a more free-form, abstract flow of associations; an account of actual events or of a real or imagined stream of consciousness reacting to the chosen media object that affected you; etc. The only stipulation is that THE MEDIA OBJECT MUST NOT BE SPECIFIED within this text, nor any too obvious identifying details given. It should focus on the experience of viewing, on the emotional response and affective resonances.

After we’ve gathered all of the stories, they will be randomly (and anonymously) shuffled among the participants; each participant will then make a short video essay based on the text they receive, using whichever associations it evokes in them, and without knowing what media object it was originally referring to. It will be up to each participant to decide whether or not, to what extent and in what way they’d like to incorporate the original text as part of the video.

The result will be a collection of co-authored works, formed through a dialogue between our subjective experiences and associations.

We’re very excited to try out this new collaborative format, and invite those of you who are interested to join us, and to share this with others who might be! Please let us know if you’d like to participate - and send us your stories by October 1st.

As many of you know, “Once Upon a Screen” was one of the best videographic projects of 2020, with many of the works getting shoutouts in the Sight & Sound poll of the year’s best video essays.

The other project is one created by Ariel. It’s a brilliant initiative he calls “TV Dictionary” : “Each entry of the TV Dictionary tries to capture the essence of a television series in a single word (and its dictionary definitions).”

All of the videos Ariel has made thus far can be found here. And here’s the first entry:

Via Ariel: “Check it out - and if you feel like it, contribute your own entries to the collection!”

I definitely want to make one! Thank you Ariel and Evelyn for these great opportunities!

Here are the rest of the news and notes for this week: