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Video-essay assessment in Film/Television Studies


Video-essay assignments can be used in the Arts as a mode of assessment, prompting students to further engage with the subject by producing informationally rich content and exploring an increasingly popular research methodology that they can pursue in further academic or nonacademic work. Jose Arroyo uses video-essays as the main assessment in the 15-CAT The Practice of Film Criticism module, enabling students to produce a work of film criticism that takes the form of a 5-10-minute video-essay.


José Arroyo, Film and Television Studies

A photograph of Jose Arroyo

Module: FI328: The Practice of Film Criticism (2021)

Lesson plan

  1. The students are offered four skill sessions throughout the term, where a technician explains the basics of audio- and video-editing and introduces the university-provided software. The skills sessions are optional to attend (and most of the students tend to skip them).
  2. Initially, students are required to write a 500-word review of a film they choose to discuss in their video-essay. This essay is not graded, but rather commented on by other students. Writing the review encourages students to critically assess their selection of a particular film.
  3. A week or two later, the students are asked to make a small video-compilation of ten 6-second clips from their chosen film, which is meant to evoke the general feeling of the film. This prompts the students to begin thinking about the audiovisual aspect of the film as well as their own decisions with regards to audiovisual production and editing.
  4. Each student is invited to talk on a podcast show with me and discuss the film they have selected. The podcast is edited by the student at their discretion and eventually published online – this is part of the process of preparing students for their final project.
  5. The students are then asked to a write a more traditional (though not assessed) 1500-word essay about their project, where they are invited to think about their selection of particular scenes, their aims and expectations, and their methodology.
  6. The students are asked to create a ten-minute PowerPoint slide presentation in the last two weeks of the module, which encourages them to think and about the structure and sequencing of ideas and the flow of argumentation in their video-essays.
  7. Lastly, each student submits their 5-10-minute-long video-essay, with each accompanied by a short ‘Creator’s Statement’ explaining the purpose and nature of the video.

Tutor's observations

  • Students respond well to the idea of producing audiovisual film criticism, even if they are initially daunted by the idea of having it published.
  • The module is very time-intensive and demands a high level of student participation.
  • Initially, this course allowed students to opt out of the video-essay and instead choose a traditional 5000-word essay. Few did so, and eventually this option was taken away.

There are unique aspects to video-essays; for some purposes, they can be more effective than traditional written work, but for others, they will face limitations. That said, I can imagine the format of an experimental video-essay being used quite productively in other discipline, particularly something like philosophy.

Examples of student work

Bianca Giacalone: 'The Erotics of 8 1/2: "reveal the sensuous surfaces"'

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FI328: The Practice of Film Criticism