Monday, 24 November 2008

Online Film Audio-Commentaries and Video Essays Of Note


In Film Studies For Free's humble opinion, one of the most exciting online areas for potential Film Studies' development is rapidly emerging from the already hugely popular Web 2.0 practice of video-sharing. It has never been easier to publically display work in which moving (and still) image-tracks, created by others, can be 'overlaid' with one's own recorded words/sounds/text, to create web 'video-essays' or online 'audio-commentaries'.

The practical/technical side of this activity should provide few challenges for the YouTube generation: the main issue to consider in relation to the educational uses of such 'user-generated' resources is, as ever, that of the quality of content. But there are plenty of noteworthy models around, from which Film Studies teachers and students can gain insight and inspiration, such as Susana Medina's excellent video essay on fetishism in the work of Luis Buñuel, embedded above (and also available on MySpace and at the Internet Archive).

To celebrate these developments, and to support them in a small way, Film Studies For Free has created a new (right-hand margin) list of links to freely accessible online audio commentaries, video essays, and 'alternative' DVD commentaries. The list currently links to the following websites: Shooting Down Pictures; Susana Medina, 'Buñuel’s Philosophical Toys'; Listology List of Best Fan Commentaries (until 2005); Sean Weitner and Andy Ross on Mulholland Drive; Whiggles.com on Suspiria and Profondo Rosso; and Renegade Commentaries. Suggestions of other websites or items of this kind are, as ever, warmly welcomed.

By far the richest website resource in this area, to date, is the one at the head of FSFF's current list: Kevin B. Lee's fabulous Shooting Down Pictures. As GreenCine Daily rightfully testified back in July 2008 (when Film Studies For Free was barely a twinkle in this neophyte blogger's eye): 'For some time now, Kevin B Lee's video essays have been among the most exciting developments in film blogging, suggesting not an alternative but supplemental form of film criticism accessible to anyone online.'

Lee is a filmmaker and multimedia producer based in New York City. Shooting Down Pictures primarily serves as a repository for a wide variety of materials connected with his project of viewing every film on the list of 1000 greatest films of all time, as compiled by They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? Rather than simply writing about, or gathering pre-existing resources together for these films -- both of which Lee does brilliantly, it must be said -- he also makes video essays about them and commissions others to provide their own audio commentaries, including ones by such luminaries as Nicole Brenez, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Richard Brody, Karina Longworth, Andy Horbal, Mike D'Angelo, Matt Zoller Seitz, Preston Miller, Vadim Rizov, and Girish Shambu.

The current full list of video essays by Shooting Down Pictures is given below, but also check out the video index Lee maintains at YouTube where these and many other videos by him, or fabulously 'mashed up' by him, are hosted.

After a recent flurry of literally feverish activity, Film Studies For Free is going to take a richly-deserved, two-week break so that its cold-ridden author can become fully healthy once more, and go off to deliver a talk on her own work (which is not totally unconnected to the focus of today's blog post, as it happens). In the meantime, FSFF leaves you with a little video essay by Lee and Dan Sallitt on another of this blog's favourite filmmakers (alongside Buñuel), Claude Chabrol. Adieu, pour le moment...

5 comments:

nitesh said...

Thank you so much for sharing Catherine, your blog is an invaluable source of learning for cinephiles here in India.

Catherine Grant said...

Nitesh, thanks for the thanks - much appreciated.

Catherine Grant said...

I see you are one of the Winds From the East bloggers (http://windsfromtheeast.blogspot.com/): great blog, which Film Studies For Free is very happy to have in its blogroll. Thanks again.

Dan Auiler said...

great blog and I'm happy to be in your list, but you should note that Allthingshitchcock.blogspot.com is now vertigoramblings.blogspot.com
Dan Auiler

Catherine Grant said...

Thanks for the nice comment, Dan (I'm an admirer of your work, so very nice, indeed!). I've updated the listing for your blog.