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The Video Essay Podcast

The Video Essay Podcast

By The Video Essay Podcast
Interviews with leading critics, filmmakers, scholars and other creators about the craft of videographic criticism. Hosted by Will DiGravio. Learn more at
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Episode 29. Thomas Flight
Today's episode features a conversation with Thomas Flight, one of the most popular and prolific video essayists currently working on YouTube. We discuss Thomas' origin story, his audience, and how he balances paying the bills as a full-time video essayist with his passion projects. We also discuss his video essay, "The Side of Scorsese We Don't Talk About," and a fantastic video essay by fellow YouTuber, Jacob Geller, "The Game That Won't Let You See All Of It."  Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter. Music access via Free Music Archive here and here.
December 13, 2021
Episode 28. Broey Deschanel
Today's episode features an interview with Maia, the YouTuber known as Broey Deschanel. Today's topics include Maia's introduction to video essays, her creative process, why YouTube is currently in a "magic moment" of virality, censorship and the YouTube algorithm, how and why to cite the work of other video essayists, why humor is funny, and much more. We also discuss Maia's video "The Liberal Escapism of Bridgerton" and BREADSWORD's 2017 video, "Treasure Planet - Disney's Biggest Mistake." 1. Maia's "origin story" and early influences, why YouTube?, the accessibility of YouTube, why it's the best time to go viral on YouTube [1:39 - 8:01] 2. The YouTube algorithm, what it censors, and how to navigate copyright, the art of the thumbnail, best practices for titling a video [8:01 - 19:46] 3. How and why to cite other video essayists and the way Maia cites and builds upon her own past work [19:47 - 27:04] 4. "The Liberal Escapism of Bridgerton," when and why Maia appears on camera, balancing the correct number of sources, humor and not taking oneself too seriously [27:04 - 48:31] 5. "Treasure Planet - Disney's Biggest Mistake," the art of sourcing and sequencing clips, how Maia writes her scripts, using active language in voiceover, why the video essay? [48:31 - end] Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter. Music access via Free Music Archive here and here. 
October 01, 2021
On Your Screen: @SilentMovieGIFs
On Your Screen is the new monthly show about digital film culture. Today's episode features a conversation with Don McHoull, the creator of the popular Twitter account @SilentMovieGIFs. We discuss the history of the account, Don's curatorial approach, why the GIF is an ideal medium for the sharing of silent film, how content spreads on the internet, and how GIFs are helping to bring silent cinema to new audiences in the 21st century. Don also talks about his Reddit page and the viral compilation videos he has made about silent cinema on YouTube. Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter.
August 31, 2021
Episode 27. Ian Garwood
Today's show 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 role of voiceover in AV criticism, and his award-winning audiovisual monograph, Indy Vinyl: Records in American Independent Cinema: 1987 to 2019. Will and Ian also discuss "My Mulholland," a video essay by Jessica McGoff. Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter, Notes on Videographic Criticism.
July 26, 2021
On Your Screen: The Rise of Film TikTok
What is Film TikTok, or FilmTok? You've probably seen the videos, either on TikTok or other social media platforms, or perhaps you've seen Queline Meadow's great video essay on the subject. On today's episode of On Your Screen, Queline, also know as kikikrazed on YouTube, answers all the questions you may have about Film TikTok: How does it work? What kinds of videos can you find on the platform? What does Film TikTok mean for the future of film criticism and fandom? If you're looking for a beginners guide to the platform, this conversation is for you. Want to learn more about Film TikTok? Check out Episode 10 of The Video Essay Podcast, which features a conversation with Charlie Shackleton about his video essay, "Criticism in the Age of TikTok."  Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter.
June 19, 2021
Episode 26. The Scholarly Video Essay
Today's episode features a conversation with Dr. Tracy Cox-Stanton (Savannah College of Art & Design) and Dr. Allison de Fren (Occidental College), two leading videographic scholars who recently co-edited an issue of the online journal The Cine-Files dedicated to the scholarly video essay. Our conversation centers on the creation of the issue, what they hope the issue contributes to the field's understanding of the scholarly video essay, and how the scholarly video essay differs from other forms of videographic criticism. The episode also features the first part of a conversation between host Will DiGravio and Shant Bayramian, a Netherlands-based video essayist who runs the YouTube channel, The Audiovisual Essayist. The conversation was published in three parts and is entitled, "The Video Essay: What Do New Practitioners Think?" All three parts can be found on Shant's YouTube page. Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter.
May 24, 2021
On Your Screen: Monographs
The second episode of On Your Screen is dedicated to Monographs, a video essay series on Asian cinema commissioned by the Asian Film Archive. Will sits down with Thong Kay Wee and Viknesh Kobinathan, who are programmers at the Asian Film Archive and the coordinators of Monographs, to discuss the series. Monographs will screen alongside Kevin B. Lee’s video essay "Explosive Paradox" online via the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art until May 2, 2021. Stream the program here. To learn more about the program, and to get in touch with Viknesh and Kay Wee about screening Monographs at your festival or venue, visit the Asian Film Archive website. Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter.
April 18, 2021
Episode 25. Terri Francis
Terris Francis is an associate professor at the University of Indiana — Bloomington and director of the Black Film Center/Archive. On today's show, we discuss Terri's new book, Josephine Baker's Cinematic Prism. Terri and Will met in 2019 at the Scholarship in Sound & Image Workshop, where Terri worked with the films of Josephine Baker. We discuss how videographic criticism influenced the book and changed Terri's relationship with Baker and her research. Support the podcast on Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter. Learn more at the pod's website. Get the free newsletter. Music Via FreeMusicArchive: Brain Power by Mela is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License. | Drop by Ketsa is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
April 04, 2021
On Your Screen: The 2021 Essay Film Festival
For the first episode of On Your Screen, Will DiGravio chats with Michael Temple, the director of the Essay Film Festival and the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, about the 2021 Essay Film Festival. The festival will run online from 25 March to 3 April. Learn more here.
March 24, 2021
Episode 24. John Gibbs, plus Douglas Pye on V.F. Perkins
On today's show, Will sits down with John Gibbs, Head of the School of Arts & Communication Design and Professor of Film at the University of Reading, to discuss style-based criticism, his videographic work, and more. They discuss John's video essay, "‘Say, have you seen the Carioca?’," published as part of the AHRC/FAPESP-funded project, "Intermldia: Towards an Intermedial History of Brazilian Cinema." John and Will also talk about Liz Greene's "The Elephant Man's Sound, Tracked" and "The Strange Streets of a Strange City: The Ambersons Montage" by Patrick Keating. Douglas Pye also joins the show to discuss his new edited collection, V.F. Perkins on Movies: Collected Shorter Film Criticism, from Wayne State University Press. Doug and Will discuss the work of Perkins, how it relates to videographic criticism, and more. Music: Sonata No. 05 in C Minor, Op. 10 No. 1 - I. Allegro molto e con brio by Daniel Veesey is licensed under a Public Domain License | Brain Power by Mela is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License. | Via FreeMusicArchive
March 12, 2021
Episode 23. The Listeners + Learning On Screen's Video Essay Guide
Last year, listeners of The Video Essay Podcast were assigned the five videographic exercises developed for the Scholarship in Sound & Image Workshop as "homework." Listeners made more than 60 videos as a response to the homework assignments. Episode 23 features audio reflections from eight listeners who created videographic exercises: Jemma Saunders, Cormac Donnelly, Roberto Carlos Ortiz, Charlotte Crofts, Alan O'Leary, Ben Creech, Max Tohline, and Ariel Avissar. Will also talks with Dr. Estrella Sendra, an academic based at the University of London and the University of Southampton, and Bartolomeo Meletti, the Education and Research Executive of Learning on Screen. Estrella and Bart are the team behind the "Introductory Guide to Video Essays," a brilliant new resource published by Learning on Screen. Music: Leave The Bottle (Instrumental) by Forget the Whale is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. | Brain Power by Mela is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License. | Via FreeMusicArchive
February 04, 2021
Episode 22. The 2020 Sight & Sound Poll + Kevin B. Lee
Today's show is (in part) dedicated to the 2020 Sight & Sound poll of the year's best video essays. Will is joined by the co-curators of the poll, Cydnii Wilde Harris, Grace Lee, and Ariel Avissar to discuss what it was like putting the poll together in the year of quarantine. The episode also features commentary from Oswald Iten, Kevin B. Lee, Shannon Strucci, Thomas Flight, and Scout Tafoya, who provide short audio reflections that expand upon their own selections in the year's poll. Finally, Will talks with Kevin B. Lee about an innovate new master's program he is starting at Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, Germany. Kevin talks about his plans for the program and the future of video essays. Music: Transition Time by Rowan Jane is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License. | Brain Power by Mela is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License. | Accessed via Free Music Archive.
January 18, 2021
Episode 21. The Journeys of Cary Grant (+ A Special Request)
Today's episode begins with a special request from Will to the podcast's listeners. The episode features the audio from "The Journeys of Cary Grant: An Audiovisual Celebration," a partnership between the Cary Comes Home Festival and The Video Essay Podcast. In July 2020, we put out a call for video essays related to the theme of "journeys," 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. On November 20, 2020, seven essayists joined Festival Director Charlotte Crofts and Will for a live conversation as part of the Cary Comes Home Festival to discuss the work they made for the celebration: Ian Magor, Anna Marin, Kendahl Cruver, Cormac Donnelly, Roberto Carlos Ortiz, Ian Garwood, and Philip Brubaker. The videos can be watched at 
December 21, 2020
Episode 20. Nelson Carvajal
Will sits down with Nelson Carvajal, a two-time Webby award nominated video artist and television producer. Nelson is also the founder of the website Free Cinema Now. We discuss his video essay/mashup, "If Pride Rock Could Talk" and a supercut by Nicolas Longinotti, "Martin Scorsese: Hands."
November 22, 2020
Episode 19. Live Event: 'Seen & Heard: Selections from the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist'
"Seen & Heard: Selections from the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist" was a live event recorded as part of the Open City Documentary Festival on September 12, 2020. The event was co-moderated by Cydnii Wilde Harris, Kevin B. Lee, and Will DiGravio, and featured interviews with Jazmin Jones, Professor Flowers, Nzingha Kendall, and Cydnii. Learn more at
October 02, 2020
Episode 18. Cydnii Wilde Harris
Cydnii Wilde Harris joins the show to discuss her video essay, "Cotton — The Fabric of Genocide." Cydnii and Will also discuss Ian Garwood's "SLAP THAT BASS Zoomed" and Jace Alexander Casey's "New Forms of Racism in the Post-Cinematic Dispositif." They also talk about what it's like to be a student of videographic criticism and how video essays have shaped their own scholarly pursuits.
September 06, 2020
Episode 17. Jason Mittell & Christian Keathley
Will is joined by his former teachers and mentors, Jason Mittell and Christian Keathley, who are professors at Middlebury College, two of the co-founders of [in]Transition, co-conveners of the Scholarship in Sound & Image Workshop, and leading practitioners and teachers of the academic video essay. Our conversation centers on their collaborations, the history and practice of the workshop, aka "video camp," and features an in-depth discussion of the videographic exercises that listeners have been making in recent weeks. Listeners are assigned their final (for now) videographic assignment: abstract trailers.
July 06, 2020
Episode 16. On Publishing the Video Essay
We are finally back! Today's episode is the first of our new roundtable series, which will center on topics related to all aspects of video essays. Will is joined today by Michael Leader of BBC’s Inside Cinema, Adam Woodward of Little White Lies, and Joost Broeren of Filmkrant. We discuss what it's like to edit publications that publish videographic work, tips for freelance video essayists, what video essays bring to a publication, and more! Listeners are also assigned the penultimate videographic exercise homework: the voiceover.
June 29, 2020
Episode 15. Shannon Strucci
Shannon Strucci joins the show to discuss life as a YouTube video essayist, developing one's own video essay aesthetic, the relationship between video essay making and podcasting, and more! We also discuss Shannon's epic video essay "Fake Friends Episode 2: parasocial hell" and Harry S. Plinkett’s (Mike Stoklasa) review of Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace, a seven part video produced by Red Letter Media. Listeners are assigned new homework: multi-screen videos.
May 15, 2020
Episode 14. Leigh Singer
On today's show Will sits down with journalist, programmer, and video essayist Leigh Singer. We discuss his most recent essay, “The Movies Behind Your Favorite GIFS” and kogonada’s 2014 video essay, “Linklater // On Cinema & Time.” Listeners are also given their next homework assignment: videographic epigraphs.
April 29, 2020
Episode 13. Scout Tafoya
We are finally back! On today’s show, Will sits down with Scout Tafoya, aka Honors Zombie. Scout is a prolific video essayist and critic, who regularly contributes to among other publications. We dive deep into his essay film Beata Virgo Viscera and “Deep Focus: Mike Figgis’ STORMY MONDAY, as reviewed by Roger Ebert,” a video essay edited by Matt Zoller Seitz, narrated by Kim Morgan, and based on a review by Ebert.
April 12, 2020
Episode 12. Liz Greene
Liz Green is a scholar, sound professional, and video essayist. On today's show, she and Will discuss her essay, "Do it for Van Gogh: Detecting and Perverting the Audience Position in David Lynch's Blue Velvet." They also discuss Tracy Cox-Stanton's recently released video essay, "Gesture in A Woman Under the Influence."
February 19, 2020
Episode 11. The 2019 Sight & Sound Poll
Will is joined by his fellow co-editors of the 2019 Sight & Sound magazine poll of the best video essays of the year, Grace Lee (What's So Great About That?) and Ariel Avissar. They discuss what it was like editing the poll, what changed about the poll this year, how they'd like to see the poll evolve in the future, and how they made their own selections. The second half of the show features commentary from nine contributors to this year's poll: Chloé Galibert-Laîné, Scout Tafoya, Jason Mittell, Philip Brubaker, Andrea Moran (on behalf of FILMADRID), Shannon Strucci, Ian Garwood, Oswald Iten, and Johannes Binotto.
January 31, 2020
Episode 10. Charlie Shackleton
Filmmaker and critic Charlie Shackleton joins the show to discuss his background, philosophy when it comes to making videographic work, and his most recent essay, "Criticism in the Age of TikTok." In a first for the show, Charlie and Will also discuss a performance piece by Zia Anger, My First Film.
January 16, 2020
Episode 9. Johannes Binotto
Scholar Johannes Binotto joins the show to discuss his video essays on John Ford's Stagecoach and François Truffaut. He and Will also discuss Hartmut Bitomsky’s 1991 essay film, Das Kino und der Wind und die Photographie (The Cinema and the Wind and Photography).
December 23, 2019
Episode 8. Chloé Galibert-Laîné
Chloé Galibert-Laîné, one of the leaders in the video essay genre of "desktop documentary" comes on the show to discuss her film, "Watching The Pain of Others." Chloé and Will also discuss Ross Sutherland's 2015 film, "Stand By for Tape Back-Up."
November 29, 2019
Episode 7: Jennifer Proctor
Jen Proctor is a video essayist, filmmaker, media artist, and professor at the University of Michigan - Dearborn. On this week's show we discuss the difference between those terms, what a video essay is, and a whole lot more. Jen and Will discuss her found footage film, Nothing a Little Soap and Water Can't Fix, and Martin Arnold's 1988 found footage film, Pièce Touchée.
October 31, 2019
Episode 6: Adrian Martin
We are back! Will DiGravio sits down with Adrian Martin, who discusses his video essays made in collaboration with Cristina Álvarez López. The two discuss their essay, "Only Free Gestures," and Rafael Guilhem's "Traspasos." Learn more at
October 13, 2019
Episode 5: Jacob Swinney
Jacob Swinney comes on the show to discuss his work at Fandor, his popular Twitter account First & Final Frames, how he built a large following on Vimeo, and what it's like to have Paul Schrader share your work. He and host Will DiGravio also discuss Jake's essay "First and Final Frames," and the video essay "The Art of Overanalyzing Movies" by Now You See It.
September 20, 2019
Episode 4. Grace Lee (What's So Great About That?)
This week's guest is Grace Lee, who operates the popular video essay channel, What's So Great About That? on YouTube. Grace and host Will DiGravio talk about how Grace's fine art background influences her video essays, what it is like having one's video essay go viral, how to please the YouTube algorithm, and discuss her essay, "Feathered Foes: Birds in Horror." They also discuss the desktop documentary "Reading//Binging//Benning" by Chloé Galibert-Laîné and Kevin B. Lee.
September 05, 2019
Episode 3: Philip Brubaker
Will DiGravio sits down with Philip Brubaker, formerly one of the principal video essayists at Fandor. Philip is also an experimental filmmaker with a background in documentary filmmaking and an alumnus of Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School. His video essays have screened at numerous film festivals and his work has appeared regularly in Sight and Sound’s annual list of the best video essays. The two talk about Philip’s introduction to video essays, the rise and fall of Fandor, why Philip does not consider himself a critic, and his latest work, Abandoned Movie, an essay film. The also discuss Victoria Oliver Farner’s video essay, “Peripheral Attention.”
August 15, 2019
Episode 2: Catherine Grant
In the first true episode of The Video Essay Podcast, host Will DiGravio sits down with Catherine Grant, one of the leading video essay makers working today. In the episode, the two talk about Katie's first introduction to the form, her philosophy when it comes to making video essays, and her latest video essay, "The Haunting of THE HEADLESS WOMAN." They also discuss "Cotton - The Fabric of Genocide," an essay by Cydnii Harris. Learn more about the show and the homework for next week at
August 01, 2019
Episode 1: Pilot
In the pilot for "The Video Essay Podcast," host Will DiGravio discusses the show's origins, his background, the format of the podcast, and previews the next episode, which will feature an interview with Catherine Grant. Music:
July 28, 2019