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Video Essay Best Supporting Actor

The assignment asks your group to make an interpretive argument via a short film of 4-5 minutes.

Assumptions for this assignment

  1. the video essay makes an argument about subject matter
  2. the argument is an instance of communication and should be easy to understand
  3. the argument is supported with clear and specific evidence

How To Go About Making Your Video Essay

Part 1: Draft Topic and Argument

  1. You and your group members should brainstorm a topic (a film genre, an important/weird/interesting film, a director, a plot device, a stylistic technique) and explain why you are interested in your topic.
    • Example: Wes Anderson’s costumes; the cult film Troll 2; Bourne’s action sequences; the portrayal of women in slasher films
  2. You should then describe what your argument about your topic will be.
    • Example: By depicting over-the-top gore while also referencing film history, Quentine Tarantino challenges audiences to reconsider what makes a “quality” film. OR Over time, the editing of Bourne’s action sequences increase in speed, suggesting an audience increasingly familiar with and bored by the genre.


All five of these should be addressed/included in your final project. Turn in your group’s responses to these questions and a short annotated bibliography.

  1. Introduction: what will your classmates need to know to get them oriented to your video essay? Consider your audience’s likely level of knowledge/familiarity; are you working on something famous or something a bit more niche?
  2. Thesis: what will you be arguing in your video?
  3. Reasons: why are things as you say they are in your thesis? What are the underpinning ideas/theories that must be demonstrated?
  4. Supporting evidence: what specific scenes and shots will you discuss? What filmic techniques are most important to point out? (While it may be necessary to focus more on certain formal elements than others, the video essay should touch on all four major stylistic elements of film art: mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound.) What can you include from your research?
  5. Conclusion: what do you want your audience to take away from this essay? How should we consider your film, genre, director, etc. differently?
  6. Annotated Bibliography
    • Using MLA Style, write citations for a minimum of the following three source types:
      • An interview
      • A scholarly article
      • A non-filmic item of your choice
    • Annotate each entry with 3-5 sentences explaining why the source will be useful to you/how it supports your work.

PART 3: Style/Aesthetics

  • The video essay itself
    • The projects should be aesthetically pleasing. You should consider formal issues in addition to content (consider the following: image, voice, pacing, text, sound, music, montage, rhythm, edits/transitions, etc). Edits/transitions should be clean, functioning as guideposts leading the viewer from one point to another.
    • All evidence should clearly relate to the thesis. There should be no question of why you are presenting a given clip.
    • Formal elements/quantity: while it may be necessary to focus more on certain formal elements than others, the video essay should touch on all four major stylistic elements of film art (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound)
    • Accuracy. All formal elements should be accurately identified and discussed.
  • Short supplemental essay: This 2-3 page paper should explain decisions you made in organizing your video essays. Why did you select certain clips or ignore others? How did your thesis and/or other ideas change over the course of the project? What became important to you to communicate as you learned more about your topic? What creative ideas did you attempt in your efforts to communicate your interpretation?

Grading Rubric For Interpretive Video Essay

Proposal (2% of course grade).
Overview (8% of course grade)

In each section of each category, you will be scored as follows:
5: Expert/Excellent; 4: Advanced/Good; 3.75: Basic/Satisfactory; 3: Needs Work 2: Barely Acceptable 1: Unacceptable 0: Missing

Video Essay: Basics 20%
ON TIME: The video essay should be submitted by the exam period.
TITLE: Preceding the video should be a title that draws the viewer in and reflects the creators’ argument.
NARRATION: Some form of narration (whether audio or text) should guide the viewer through the video.
LENGTH: About 4.5 minutes (not underdeveloped, not excessive), indicating the creators’ have control over the argument.

THE THESIS: should be easy to locate, arguable, clearly stated, and able to be supported with evidence.
FORMAL ELEMENTS: While it may be necessary to focus more on some than others, the video essay should touch on all four stylistic elements of film art (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound).
ACCURACY: The video essay should accurately identify the formal elements throughout the video essay.
QUALITY: All evidence should relate to the thesis; there should be no question about its purpose or significance.
STYLE: The project should be aesthetically pleasing. The author should consider formal issues in addition to content (i.e. the group must consider ideas of image, voice, pacing, text, soung, music, montage, rhythm, etc.). Edits/transitions should be clean, fucntioning as guideposts, leading the viewer from one point to another. Sound should be loud enough that the viwewer doesn’t have to strain to hear.

ON TIME: To be submitted in person at the beginning of the final exam period
LENGTH: roughly 2-3 pages (not underdeveloped, not excessive
FILM TITLES (and titles of TV shows, books, newspapers, journals, websites) should be italicized. The DIRECTOR/RELEASE DATE should be placed in parentheses the first time the film is cited. ACTORS’ names should be placed in parentheses the first time a character is mentioned

CONTENT/GOAL: This paper should serve as an accompaniement to your visual presentation and a continuation of your argument., It should include pertinent evidence/information, images, dialogue, etc. the video essay may have omitted because of the time constraint (e.g. why you selected certain clips/images and ignored others, why you took on the argument you did, and what others might say in response)> You might also consider the project’s aesthetics : the ordering, shot/scene transitions used, background music and narration style chosen, etc. and how these decisions support the thesis and the overall scope of the video essay.
CONCLUSION: The essay should sum up the project and ask the viewer to think furhtere abou the film (s), messages, etc.
A BIBLIOGRAPHY: The bibliography should be included either at the end of the video essay or the report. It should use correct MLA style
GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION, ETC.: Responses should be free of mechanical, syntactical, grammatical, and punctuation errors that make it difficult and tedious to read. Also, topic sentences and transition words should function as guideposts, leading the reader from one point to another.

______ Total Project Grade

Watch: 4-Minute Video Essay Looks At 6 African-American Performers & Creators Who Deserved 2016 Oscar Consideration

Like David Oyelowo’s stunning performance in “Selma” last year, there have been stars, filmmakers, and movies predominantly featuring people of color that have been completely shunned when it comes to awards season. This year, the controversy reached new heights, spawning the rightfully unavoidable hashtag campaign #OscarsSoWhite, recruiting those against racial discrimination to avoid the telecast and boycott the show altogether.

READ MORE: Consider This: Is #OscarsSoWhite A Symptom Of Movies Losing (Even More) Ground To TV?

The folks at Fandor have created a video essay highlighting some of the outstanding performances robbed of accolades this year, including a nod for Jason Mitchell in “Straight Outta Compton” as Easy-E, and the film itself for Best Picture. Though the film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Mitchell’s turn as the rapper, and the film, which was one of the highest grossing of 2015 (in the top 20, domestically), should have definitely been recognized.

Ryan Coogler’s “Creed,” a decades-later sequel to the “Rocky” franchise received a Best Supporting Actor nod for Sylvester Stallone, but the director and star Michael B. Jordan (who is notoriously terrific in any role he plays) were left out.

For a look at a few other should-have-been nominees who eluded the Academy, take a look at the video below, and let us know what other performances they missed out on in the comments.

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